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Picture Books That Instill Kindness in Young Children

In order to prevent bullying and exclusionary behaviors in schools it is important to teach kids to respect one another. We want our children to celebrate the differences that make us unique, not tease and taunt others because of them. Before the new school year begins talk to your child about his or her behavior and the way that words and actions can hurt others. Even very young preschoolers can grasp the concept of kindness. If you want to discuss this topic in detail search for picture books that reflect on the importance of being kind, friendly and considerate. If you aren’t sure where to begin, take a look at the list below. These books will discourage bullying and inspire your children to reach out a helping hand to others.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

This award-winning book teaches children that everyone carries around an invisible bucket that can either be filled or dipped into. When you help others by writing them notes, telling them how much you appreciate them and simply being kind you fill the buckets of those you know and meet. In turn when you fill someones bucket you fill your own too. When you act mean you become a bucket dipper, you hurt other people’s feelings and leave their bucket empty. This book provides the basis for discussing small acts of kindness with your children. You can talk to them about the importance of their actions and how simple actions can brighten the day of someone they meet or know. It is also a great introduction to the complex topic of bullying.

The Invisible Boy

While kids learn about reading, writing and arithmetic in school they also learn a great deal about forming relationships with others. Every single child in this world yearns to be accepted and appreciated, but unfortunately many children feel left out. The Invisible Boy tells the story of Brian; a young child who feels unnoticed and unwanted by his peers. None of the kids talk to him or invite him to their birthday parties. He is left out until a new boy named Justin arrives at school. Justin admires Brian’s artwork and quickly becomes his first friend. In this story it takes only one person to make Brian feel included. Talk to your child about the importance of being the one child who reaches out when someone feels invisible.

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed tells the story of Ordinary Mary whose kindness sets off a chain reaction. Ordinary Mary picks blueberries for her neighbor Mrs. Bishop who uses them to bake muffins. When the blueberry muffins are finished baking Mrs. Bishop serves them to five people. One of those men is Mr. Stevens who sets off to help five people and one recipient of that kind deed sets off to help five more people. Eventually the good deeds make their way all the way back to Ordinary Mary. This story demonstrates the impact of kindness on the rest of the world. It shows that even the most minor acts of kindness can spread infinitely.


One discusses the topic of bullying using watercolors in a deceptively simple way. The color Red is a bully. He picks on the color Blue and none of the other colors step up to defend him. Red enjoys his power over Blue and eventually Red’s confidence grows and he begins to tease all of the other colors too. Finally a new kid comes to town in the form of a gray number One who stands up to Red and won’t back down. When the other colors witness One’s bravery they stand up to Red and before the book ends Blue confronts his bully too. On the last page of the book the author writes, “Sometimes it takes just One.” Teach your child that he or she can be the one person that stops a bully from taunting.

You can search for all of these books and many others devoted to the topic of kindness at Barnes and Noble.