9 picture books that help us to understand the joy and sometimes the challenge of kindness

in / conversation starters, emotional resilience

When Max was very little, he hatched a plan to leave a note for someone in his class that said: ‘ugly and fat and stinky like a rat’. The conversation then went like this:

Kim: (aghast) How do you think the other person will feel when you do that?

Max: (amused) They’ll be really mad.

Kim: (carefully) What do you think they’ll do?

Max: (triumphantly) They’ll chase me.

Kim: (patiently) Do you think you should change your plan then?

Max: Yes, I’ll give it to someone slower than me.

It was all a bit hilarious, but you can imagine the mad scramble at our house to teach more about kindness! As always, my first port of call was picture books. I used some of the books in our 'Kindness' category and some others that will make it there eventually.

We read, we talked, we modelled, we were careful to affirm that we knew he was a kind boy. And it worked. He didn’t leave the note and he really is an unusually kind and empathetic teenager.

Here are a few suggestions that you might like to check out - I can vouch that they're all fabulous:

Books about the small kindnesses that make life happier for those we love ...  

Books about kindnesses that lift our communities ...

... and books about big kindnesses that involve risk and great reward.

I love the kindness books and I've seen their gentle power so many times. Reading about the way other people have been kind or benefitted from kindness lets us take a moment to reflect on our own desires and actions. And those reflective moments can beautifully inform our everyday choices.

Our kindnesses make such a difference. They can affect those we love, they can change our communities. And then there are the kindnesses that are based on moral goodness that change the world.