Ten Picture Books About Caring and Compassion


My sister, as you may know from reading past posts, is an elementary school principal in Ohio.  She was a classroom teacher before moving into “the office,” so we’ve had lots of conversations about children’s books. The other day she asked me to recommend picture books about caring. It turns out that “Caring and Compassion” are themes of the school year ahead, and she is collecting picture books to read to the students. A few came to mind right away – we both thought of A Sick Day for Amos McGee – but after giving it some more thought, I came up with a list for her.

All of the books listed here are for students between kindergarten and 5th grade, but titles for the youngest children are at the beginning of the list.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead (When the zookeeper gets sick, the animals care for him. Even if you already know this book, it may be worth re-reading. I just did, and was inspired again by its beauty and gentleness.)

Six-Dinner Sid by Inga Moore (This story about a cat who eats six dinners every evening is funny and sweet – and should be better known.)

Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson (Perfect for the youngest students, the picture of the animals helping Bear “fluff” his blanket is worth the cost of the book.)

 A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (A classic story about a girl, her mother and grandmother saving their coins for a cozy chair they can all enjoy – together.)

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham (I love this book.  A gentle story about a boy who sees a bird fall and nurses it back to health.)

Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine (Rosalinda sees a man stuffing a sack with lemons from her family’s tree – and, with her grandmother’s help, finds a way to help him and replace her lemons)

Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth (A young African-American girl looks for – and finds – “something beautiful.”)

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway (Based on a true story about a boy in Ghana who, with the help of a community loan, buys a hen and changes his life.)

The Three Questions by Jon Muth (Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, the boy in the story asks questions for children – and adults – to ponder: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important? What is the right thing to do?)

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (A book for all ages about making the world more beautiful)


Good Books about Being Good

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Can reading books make us “good?”  I think maybe it can. Reading provides a window into people’s lives that makes us more empathetic and certainly more open to the views of others.

I was recently asked for a list of children’s books on the topics of kindness and generosity.  There are many books out there—many of them dull and preachy.  However, there are gems as well.  This list is not complete, but they are a good place to start.

Books for Children ages 3-6

Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya by Mary and Rich Chamberlin

Giving by Shirley Hughes

The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter

Books for Children ages 7-10

The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine

Brother Juniper by Diane Gibfried

Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier

One Hen by Katie Smith Milway

Listen to the Wind by Susan Roth

And the best book of all about generosity and friendship:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White