Recommended Reading For Children: Preschool-Elementary
Adults | Preschool-Elementary
Elementary-Middle School | Middle School–Young Adults
NOTE: please read first to make sure the content and reading level is
age-appropriate for your particular young reader.
Atkinson, Cale. Where Oliver Fits. New York: Tundra Books of Northern New York, 2017. It can be puzzling for kids to figure out who their true friends are. Where Oliver Fits shows that fitting in isn't always the best fit; it's more important to find friends who accept and appreciate the real you!
Bates, Amy June and Jennifer Bates. The Big Umbrella. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018. A lovely illustrated story about being kind and inclusive.
Bell, Kristen and Benjamin Hart. The World Needs More Purple People. New York: Random House, 2020. This picture book shares the importance of having an open mind and heart. A good story for promoting empathy, diversity and inclusion.
Berger, Samantha. What If... New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2018. A lyrical story celebrating resilience and determination in feeding one's creative mind and spirit.
Bernier-Grand, Carmen T. We Laugh Alike: Juntos Nos Reímos. Massachusetts: Charlesbridge, 2021. Bernier-Grand writes a bilingual story that addresses the question: How can we communicate if we don't speak the same language? The story unfolds in a lovely way, with the characters learning that they have more in common than they think.
Boelts, Maribeth. Those Shoes. Massachusetts: Candlewick, 2009. Set in a realistic interracial school environment, this story addresses “wants” vs. “needs” in a beautiful, compassionate way.
Brandt, Lois. Maddi’s Fridge. New York: Flashlight Press, 2014. Author Lois Brandt sensitively addresses for young readers the important topic of childhood hunger and how we can make a difference in helping others in need.
Burnett, Karen Gedig. Simon's Hook; A Story About Teases and Put-downs. California: GR Publishing, 2000. When Simon's bad haircut makes him the target of teasing, Grandma Rose teaches him how to refuse to “take the hook.”
Byers, Grace. I Am Enough. New York: Balzer + Bray, 2018. A lovely picture book with concise text about respecting and accepting ourselves and others.
Campbell, Marcy. Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018. This story reminds me a bit of Eleanor Estes’s classic, The Hundred Dresses. Adrian lets kids know he has a horse, but Chloe knows that this is not true. She can choose to be kind or choose to be cruel in how she communicates with him. Young readers will learn that understanding is more important than judgment.
Castillo, Ani. Ping. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2019. An empowering story beautifully illustrating how we send out and receive feelings, intentions, and ideas.
Cave, Kathryn. Something Else. New York: Mondo Publishing, 1998. Something Else wants to be like everybody else but finds he isn't. This is a lovely story about accepting people's differences.
Churnin, Nancy. Manjhi Moves a Mountain. California: Creston Press, 2017. This true life story of an Indian sage shows how everyone can make a difference if their heart is big enough.
Clark, Bonnie. Catching Thoughts. Minnesota: Beaming Books, 2020. What a wonderfully thoughtful and calming book to help young readers who may feel weighed down by unwelcome /unwanted thoughts.
Curato, Mike. Where is Bina Bear? New York: Henry Hold and Company, 2022. This is a sweet and gentle story about accepting and loving one another just as Tiny, the little rabbit, does with his shy, introverted friend Bina Bear. Everyone can use a friend like Tiny!
De La Peña, Matt. Last Stop On Market Street. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015. CJ leans important lessons from his nana about the beauty of the people they encounter in their everyday city life.
De La Peña, Matt. Milo Imagines the World. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2021. A little boy named Milo studies the people around him, imagining what their lives are like. But what if everyone's life is different than he thinks? This powerful story helps young readers understand you really can't know people just by looking at them.
De Paola, Tomi. Oliver Button is a Sissy. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers,1979. Oliver Button is teased by the boys in his class for pursuing his dream of being a tap dancer.
Denos, Julia. Here and Now. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. A lovely, mindful meditative approach for young readers about living in the present.
DiOrio, Rana. What Does It Mean To Be Kind? California: Little Pickle Press, 2015. With simple, straightforward text, this book helps young children easily understand what acts of kindness are all about.
Doerrfeld, Cori. The Rabbit Listened. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018. This is such a lovely picture book about the importance of actively listening with your heart.
The Fan Brothers. Lizzy and the Cloud. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. This is such a gentle, sweet story told in a beautiful way about caring, change, and letting go.
Feder, Sandra. Angry Me. Toronto, Canada: Groundwood Books, 2022. There are many ways to feel angry, and this book does a great job helping little ones understand these strong feelings in a compassionate way.
Frankel, Erin. Weird, Dare, Tough Book Series. Minnesota: Free Spirit Publishing, 2012. The Weird Series are stories of bullying told from the perspectives of the target, the bystander, and the child doing the bullying. Best to get all three in the series to be more effective in the classroom.
Gainer, Cindy. I’m Like You, You’re Like Me. Minnesota: Free Spirit, 2011. This is a nice little intro to young readers about appreciating our similarities and differences with one another.
Geissel, Theodor (Dr. Seuss). The Sneetches and Other Stories. New York: Random House, 1961. The Sneetches is an excellent story about prejudice and social outcasts.
Gruener, Barbara. Mr. Quigley's Keys. Alexandria, VA: Edumatch, 2021. This story is a touching tribute to a beloved school handyman whose empathy, compassion, and acts of kindness made both a lasting impression and a positive difference in the lives of students. Every school needs to have a Mr. Quiqley!
Ho, Joanna. Eyes That Kiss in the Corners. New York: Harper, 2021. This is an empowering story about appreciating and recognizing one's own unique beauty and strength.
Holmes, Margaret. A Terrible Thing Happened. Washington, D.C.: Magination Press, 2000. A gentle story to help kids ages 4-8 who have witnessed violence, trauma, or natural disasters.
Hoose, Phillip and Hannah Hoose. Hey Little Ant. California: Tricycle Press, 1998. A little ant tries to convince a boy not to squish him because he has feelings and a family, too. The book allows the reader to determine the outcome of the story-great opportunities for discussion!
Hubbard, Rita Lorraine. THE OLDEST STUDENT: How Mary Walker Learned to Read. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020. An amazing picture book biography of the oldest American student who, with perseverance and dedication, learned to read at the age of 116!
Jenkins, Emily. The Little Bit Scary People. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2008. A lovely little story about how some people look or act a little bit scary, but if you’d get to know them better, you’d find out they’re really not.
Jussel, Amy. The Secret of the Vanishing Bones. California: Shaping Youth, 2021. This is the first in a Media Literacy Series that serves as a great primer for young readers on digital literacy and privacy. I love how Jussel addresses these timely issues in an entertaining and informative way for children. There's an also an extensive Parent & Educator Guide to go with it.
Kerascoët. I Walk With Vanessa. New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2018. A beautiful, compassionate story in which a young bystander who witnesses hurtful behavior becomes an upstander and recruits more upstanders.
Kim, Anna. Danbi Leads the School Parade. New York: Viking Books for Young Readers, 2020. As a Korean immigrant now living in American, protagnoist Danbi uses her spunk and imagination to adjust to a new school and make new friends. Danbi comes to learn that when you open your world to others, their world opens to you!
Lovell, Patty. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon. New York: Scholastic, 2002. When the class bully at her new school makes fun of her, Molly remembers what her grandmother told her and she feels good about herself.
Ludwig, Trudy. Brave Every Day. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Available June 28, 2022. Some kids love hide-and-seek. Camila just likes to hide because she worries. And she worries a lot: What If? I Can't! I'm Scared! But when an anxious classmate asks for help, she learns that her heart is bigger than her fears.
Ludwig, Trudy. Calling the Wind. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Available October 4, 2022. Inspired by Itaru Sasaki's Wind Telephone, which brought healing to the people of Japan in the wake of an Earthquake and tsunami, this story explores grief and loss, and how we move forward by finding meaningful ways to connect with the family and friends we've lost, as well as those who are still with us.
Ludwig, Trudy. The Invisible Boy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. Brian is invisible. Nobody seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, games, or activities…until a new kid comes to class. This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.
Ludwig, Trudy. THE POWER OF ONE: Every Act of Kindness Counts. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2020. An empowering story that begins with one person standing up for what it right. Learn how one act of kindness can start a chain reaction.
Ludwig, Trudy. Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. Owen, a talkative boy, comes down with laryngitis and learns about the power of listening—not only with his ears but also with his heart—as a result.
Mantchev, Lisa. Strictly No Elephants. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. A sweet story about inclusion, with the important message that all are welcome.
Maynor, Megan. Not Enough Lollipops. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2022: When kind-hearted Alice wins a wagon full of lollipops, sharing them with classmates becomes more complicated than she thought. This story would be a sweet introduction to scarcity mindset for upper elementary kids.
McCain, Becky. Nobody Knew What To Do: A Story About Bullying. Florida: Magnetix Corporation, 2002. When bullies pick on a boy at school, a classmate is afraid and tells his teacher. The story delivers the message that bystanders can make a difference.
McCloud, Carol. Have You Filled A Bucket Today? Michigan: Ferne Press, 2006. This story helps young children understand the importance of treating others with kindness and respect.
McGhee, Holly. Come With Me. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017. A sweet story showing how even little ones can have a positive impact in the face of intolerance and uncertainty.
Miletsky, Jay. Ricky, the Rock That Couldn’t Roll. New Jersey: New Paige Press, 2018. A very sweet story that shares, in a gentle and humorous way, lessons of kindness,inclusion, and friendship.
Miller, Pat Zietlow. Be Kind. New York: Roaring Brook, 2018. This wonderful NYT bestseller is all about how to spread kindness out in our world!
Miller, Pat Zietlow. Be Strong. New York: Roaring Brook, 2021. Being strong can mean different things to different people. What I love about this story is that it focuses on what it means to be strong when it comes to showing up, speaking up, and never giving up!
Miller, Pat Zietlow. In Our Garden: New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2022. Having just moved to a different city, Millie misses her family's garden back home. With the help of her new school community, Millie's garden proposal takes root and blossoms. This story shows what can be accomplished with vision, patience, hard work, and collaboration in mind.
Miller, Pat Zietlow. When You Are Brave. New York: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019. This beautifully illustrated picture book shows how to embrace your inner spark of courage even in difficult times.
Montague, Brad. The Circles All Around Us. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2021. A heartwarming story that relays the importance of widening your circle of relationships to build a community.
Mortola, Peter. The Bear Inside. Oregon: 19th Avenue Press, 2016. This story helps little ones to better understand and manage their aggressive behavior/ hurtful feelings.
Moss, Peggy. One of Us. Maine: Tilbury House, 2010. Roberta’s first day at a new school is a bit confusing as she tries to find friends who can accept her for who she is. This book will generate great discussions about peer pressure of trying to fit in with others.
Moss, Peggy and Dee Dee Tardif. Our Friendship Rules. Maine: Tilbury House, 2007. When Alexandra dumps her best friend Jenny for the new, cool girl, she soon learns that friendship is more important than popularity.
Moss, Peggy. Say Something. Maine: Tilbury House, 2004. A girl witnesses others being mean to her peer and learns the important lesson that being a silent bystander is not the solution.
Muhammad, Ibtihaj and S.K.Ali. The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family. New York: Little Brown & Company, 2019. Little Faizah starts the new school year excited for herself and her big sister Asiya, who will be wearing a beautiful blue hijab to school. While not everyone at school reacts kindly to Asiya's hijab, the two sisters learn from their loving mother to be strong, proud, and accepting of who they are.
Munson, Derek. Enemy Pie. California: Chronicle Books, 2000. A fun story of how a little boy, with the help of his Dad, learns a delicious lesson for turning his number one enemy into a good friend.
Olsen, Shannon. Our Class Is a Family California: Olson, 2020. This is a great back-to-school picture book to share with little ones the importance of a caring school community and classroom.
O'Neill, Diane. Saturday at the Food Pantry. Illinois: Albert Whitman & Company, 2021. This lovely story promotes empathy and compassion by addressing, in a heartfelt way food scarcity and food insecurity that millions of households with children face.
Otoshi, Kathryn. Draw the Line. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2017. This is a story about friendship, boundaries, and healing after conflict.
Otoshi, Kathryn. Lunch Every Day. California: Ko Kids Books, 2021. Every day Jimmy takes ‘Skinny Kid’s’ lunch at school...until a surprising act of kindness stops him in his tracks and opens his heart. Another winner by Otoshi that addresses bullying and promotes empathy and compassion.
Otoshi, Kathryn. One. California: Ko Kids Books, 2008. This simple story shows young readers how, when you stand up for others, you can make a positive difference.
Otoshi, Kathryn. Two. California: Ko Kids Books, 2014. Another lovely numbers story by Otoshi promoting healthy friendships among young children.
Otoshi, Kathryn. Zero. California: Ko Kids Books, 2010. All the number Zero saw when she looked at herself was a hole—right in her center. This is delightful story with the heartfelt message that everyone has value.
Penfold, Alexandra. All Are Welcome. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018. This lovely book celebrates kindness, inclusivity and diversity at a welcoming school. This would be a great back-to-school read to start off the school year!
Penfold, Alexandra. Big Feelings. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2021. Big Feelings will help young readers navigate and manage emotional challenges they face in their daily lives.
Quang,Phung Nguyen. My First Day. New York: Random House Children's Books, This stunning picture book shares a Vietnamese boy's exciting journey to to school. This story can lead to wonderful conversations about the excitement, fear and joy of starting school--regardless of where you live.
Reul, Sarah Lynne. The Breaking News. New York: Roaring Brook, 2018. This story will help young readers who feel overwhelmed with bad news and show the power of resilience, optimism, and a sense of community.
Reynolds, Aaron. Nerdy Birdy. New York: Roaring Brook, 2015. A playful story about finding your own flock—even if the flock has members different from you!
Roberts, Justin. The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014. Even though small Sally McCabe is often unseen by others, she learns she can make a noticeable difference in the lives of others.
Romo, Diane. The Feelings Activity Book for Children: 50 Activities to Identify, Understand and Manage Your Feelings. Emeryville, CA: Rockridge Press, 2021. This book is a helpful resource for parents to use with their little ones (preK- K) to help them explore and better understand their emotions. Older elementary-aged children (i.e., grades 2 -4) can use it on their own.
Santat, Dan. After The Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2017.What a lovely twist of a class nursery rhyme that shows how even the timid can overcome their fears /failures, get back up, and reach new heights.
Seskin, Steve and Allen Shamblin. Don't Laugh At Me. California: Tricycle Press, 2002. This picture book helps kids think twice about teasing and name-calling.
Sotomayer, Sonia. Just Ask! New York: Philomel Books, 2019. Justice Sonia Sotomayer writes about children with differences and challenges who work together to build a community garden. Readers will learn that those children's differences can also make them interesting and powerful in their own unique ways.
Stead, Philip. A Sick Day for Amos McGee. New York: Roaring Book Press, 2010. A kind zookeeper who gets sick and now the animals kindly come to take care of the caretaker!
Talbott, Hudson. A Walk in the Words. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2021. This is a lovely illustrated story that will inspire young children who find it difficult to read. This wonderful NYT bestseller is all about how to spread kindness out in our world!
Thomas, Pat. Stop Picking on Me. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 2000. A good "first look at bullying" for young children.
Verdick, Elizabeth. Words Are Not For Hurting. Minnesota: Free Spirit Publishing, 2004. For ages 4-8, this book focuses on the power of words when it comes to friendship and social skills.
Walker, Tricia Elam. Nana Akua Goes to School. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020. A wonderful story celebrating cultural diversity when students get to share what's great about their elders in Grandparents Day.
Woodson, Jacqueline. Each Kindness. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012. A modern take of the classic story One Hundred Dresses, this story shows how important it is to reach out to others in kindness.
Woodson, Jacqueline. The Day You Begin. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018. A lovely story celebrating our differences rather than feeling like outsiders.
Woodson, Jacqueline. The Year We Learned to Fly. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022. This picture book lyrically shares the beauty and power of our minds to lift ourselves up in tough times and imagine a better world.