15 Books About Kindness for All Ages

By Laura Klein

We all know that it’s important to be kind. A smile, a compliment, opening a door, or writing a thank-you note are simple gestures that go a long way in building trust and fostering friendships. According to Psychology Today, “science has now shown that devoting resources to others, rather than having more and more for yourself, brings about lasting well-being.” The article goes on to note that kindness is an important predictor of happy and stable marriages, and many colleges and universities have even started screening applicants for kindness.  

Illustration of a heart rising out of a book

We also know that an important way to teach children how to be kind is to model kind behavior ourselves. While modeling kindness is clearly impactful, as a librarian, I also believe that books about kindness are an important teaching tool. The characters experience situations that may or may not feel familiar to your child, but either way are powerful lessons on the importance of kindness and what it can feel like when someone is―or is not―kind.

I asked my fellow librarians (Lower School librarian Judy Clegg and Middle School librarian Ivana Renteria) to share their top kindness books for kids of all ages, combined them with my top books in the Upper School, and listed them below. All of these books are available for check out in our libraries here at University School of Milwaukee, or available at your local public library. Enjoy!

Lower School (ages 3 to 9)

  1. “The Girl and the Bicycle” by Mark Pett
  2. “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña
  3. “I Walk with Vanessa” by Kerascoët
  4. “Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson
  5. “A Bike Like Sergio’s” by Maribeth Boelts

Middle School (ages 10 to 14)

  1. “White Bird” by R.J. Palacio
  2. “Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella
  3. “Mockingbird” by Katheryn Erskine
  4. “Stargirl” by Jerry Spinelli
  5. “If I Ever Get Out of Here” by Eric Gansworth

Upper School (ages 15 and above)

  1. “Humankind: A Hopeful History” by Rutger Bregman
  2. “Darius the Great Is Not Okay,” and the latest sequel, “Darius the Great Deserves Better” by Adib Khorram
  3. “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson
  4. “The Book of Lost Names” by Kristen Harmel 
  5. “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: 101 Stories of Life, Love and Learning” by Jack Canfield

About Laura Klein

Laura Klein is USM’s Upper School librarian. She holds a bachelor’s in literature and film, a master’s in film, and a master’s in education, library media and instructional technology. She also received the Charles F. Wright Technology and Innovation Teaching Award. 

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