12 Children’s Books That Encourage Kids to Be Nice

Kindness is a must-have trait in today’s world, and it’s made easy in these kid-friendly reads.

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The Monster's Monster
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The Monster’s Monster (2012)

What makes a monster a monster after all? Patrick McDonnell’s acclaimed picture book shows kids that you can’t judge a book by its cover, or a “monster” by the way he looks on the outside. The story follows a team of little monsters who create a bigger one, Frankenstein-style. The three get confused when their new friend is anything but monstrous. He’s kind. This one will bring a tear to your eye.

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The Golden Rule book cover
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The Golden Rule (2007)

Gorgeous illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska give this book a sense of magic. A young boy questions his grandfather about the golden rule. The elder man teaches the young boy about the connections across religions—how each has a similar rule about kindness. The stirring artwork makes the words by author Ilene Cooper glow.

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The Sneetches and Other Stories book cover
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The Sneetches and Other Stories (1953)

This Dr. Seuss classic tells the story of a group of Sneetches—some have stars on their bellies, some don’t. When the ones who don’t have belly stars figure out how to get them, the social hierarchy crashes down. This story provides a great way to teach children not to judge each other based on superficial differences.

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Whoever You Are book cover
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Whoever You Are (1997)

Mem Fox’s vibrant storybook champions the human values that connect us to those in different cultures and parts of the world. A whimsical man in a cloud suit shows up to carry a group of children around the world as he teaches them about love and acceptance. Leslie Staub’s colourful and dynamic illustrations make this a bedtime favourite.

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Last Stop on Market Street book cover
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Last Stop on Market Street (2015)

This gorgeous journey takes you on a long city bus ride from a child’s perspective. (No wonder it won top Newberry and Caldecott honours.) Matt de la Peña’s story capture’s young CJ’s trek with his Nana. On the bus, CJ meets a collection of strangers as his eyes slowly open to the world around him. Christian Robinson illustrates CJ’s world with vibrant colour that’s sure to appeal to children. The bus’s final stop comes as a surprise that teaches you all about the beauty of serving our communities—a lesson children of every age will take to heart.

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Thank You, World book cover
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Thank You, World (2007)

This beautiful global journey teaches children the art of gratitude. They learn how to be grateful for the little things: rain, a breeze, a soft pillow. Alice B. McGinty’s words have a simple poetry that resonates with children. The illustrations by Wendy Anderson Halperin provide a window in to the lives of children across the globe. She takes you on visits to the lives of eight children in eight different nations as they all give thanks for their lives and our beautiful world.

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Grumpy Gloria book cover
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Grumpy Gloria (2006)

Told in upbeat rhymes, Anna Dewdney uses a grumpy family dog to teach kids a lesson about how it feels to be left out. A group of siblings can’t understand why their beloved pet is in such a bad mood. This story helps kids understand the nuances of compassion. The kids have to figure out what’s wrong with their dog—and most important of all, how a little kindness and caring can fix hurt feelings.

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Charlotte's Web is one of the most beloved children's books
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Charlotte’s Web (1952)

The famous spider from E.B. White’s classic children’s novel is a paragon of courtesy and class. But more than that, Charlotte is kind and compassionate. She swoops into the farmyard and teaches all the animals there what it means to be nice. As Charlotte works tirelessly to protect the pig Wilbur from slaughter, she shows all of us the power in speaking out and taking a stand in whatever way you can. The ending hurts because you’ve grown to care more than you ever thought you could for a tiny little spider.

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Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons
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Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons (2006)

In this yummy and delightful picture book, author Amy Krouse Rosenthal teaches kids the definitions of words “respect” and “compassionate” and “generous” through life lessons on cookies. Jane Dyer’s gorgeous illustrations bring whimsy into kitchen settings as children share treats with animals and family members. It’s the perfect book for teaching young ones the importance of cultivating kindness.

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I Like Myself book cover
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I Like Myself! (2004)

Kids need help learning kindness for others, but they also need the lesson for themselves. Karen Beaumont’s happy, energetic I Like Myself!, teaches children all about self-kindness and self-acceptance. She writes in fun rhymes that are sure to draw in children. David Catrow’s illustrations show the joy and fun in loving every part of yourself.

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A Boy, A Dog and a Frog
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A Boy, A Dog and A Frog (1967)

Mercer Mayer’s classic tale of friendship is told through a series of delightful line drawings. The boy and his dog go down to a creek to capture a frog. But the frog doesn’t want to be caught! This story teaches children how to make friends. Getting along is easy if you know how to try.

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The Little Blue Truck
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The Little Blue Truck (2008)

This rhyming tale shows the power of friendliness. A little blue truck ambles through a community giving a friendly hello to all the animals he encounters along the way. Then a big gruff truck goes powering through being rude to everyone. This charming tale teaches children the importance of being nice to others, all the time! Not only when you need help.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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