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.
Bates, Amy June and Jennifer Bates. The Big Umbrella. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018. A lovely illustrated story about being kind and inclusive.
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.
Brown, Laurie Krasney and Marc Brown. How To Be A Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them. Massachusetts: Little Brown & Co., 2001. Dinosaur characters illustrate the value of friends, how to make friends, and how to be a good friend.
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.”
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.
Carlson, Nancy. How to Lose All Your Friends. New York: Puffin, 1997. The author uses humor to convey what it takes to be a good friend and make friends.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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. The Invisible Boy. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 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. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, available in August 2020.Change 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: Knopf Books for Young Readers. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Otoshi, Kathryn. Draw the Line. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2017. This is a story about friendship, boundaries, and healing after conflict.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Thomas, Pat. Stop Picking on Me. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 2000. This book approaches the issue of bulling and feelings in a simple and interactive fashion.
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.
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.