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15 Board Books about Kindness to Foster Empathetic Toddlers

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For toddlers, kindness is not something that comes naturally or easy. Rather, it is more of a skill that is developed over time, and goes hand-in-hand with empathy, or the ability to share and understand the feelings of others.

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While empathy is fully developed around age 4 or 5, it is imporant to begin developing that sense of empathy within your toddler at a younge age. Reading books to your toddler about emotions and kindness, and explaining how and why people feel the way they do in various situations goes a long way toward developing empathy.

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Check out this list of books specifically about emotions.

The more kiddos understand why it’s important to be kind, the more they will act with kindness themselves.

Let’s dive into 15 of the best books for babies and toddlers about kindness:

1. Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller

A beautifully told story of a child who ponders what it means to truly be kind.

The child witnesses a classmate embarrass herself, and wants to help her feel better. But how does one make an embarrassed classmate feel better? From the big ways to the small ways, this book considers what it means to really be kind to someone in a meaningful way, and how that kindness can spread.

2. Kindness Makes Us Strong by Sophie Beer

This has been one of my daughter’s favorite books since she was a baby. Back then, we would have fun pointing out the colorful illustrations of recognizable objects. I would have her point out things like flowers, dog, cat, bird, etc.

Now, we use the detailed and colorful illustrations of children engaging in kind activities to talk about the various ways they are showing kindness: cheering each other on, inviting others to join in, saying hello, etc.

These scenarios are similar to what toddlers face regularly with peers, so they offer great insight that you can refer back to. “Remember how the children wait their turns to jump rope? We have to wait our turn too.”

3. How Can I Be Kind? (Lift-the-Flap First Questions and Answers) by Katie Daynes

A lift-the-flap Usborne book that teaches tots ways to be kind. Colorful illustrations of bugs and nature are used to illustrate what kindness is, and how we can be kind to others, to ourselves, to nature, and to the planet. Plenty of flaps and text make this more suitable for older tots.

4. My Bag of Kindness by McLean, Danielle

A boy shows us what is in his bag of kindness, made up of objects that remind him of specific moments of kindness in his life. The book is not about the objects, but rather the instances of kindness that they represent to the child.

Understanding acts of kindness in specific situations, rather than as abstract ideas, can really help older tots and children develop a sense of empathy for others.

5. Babies Love Kindness by Ginger Swift

This sturdy, chunky lift-a-flap book is perfect for introducing babies and young tots the idea of kindness.

See cute woodland animals showing each other acts of kindness, such as sharing, thanking, apologizing, etc. Have babies find recognizable objects and favorite animals, and hone in on the acts of kindness with older babies and toddlers.

6. ABCs of Kindness by Patricia Hegarty

A sweet, soft pastel-colored book that allows your tot to practice their alphabet while learning about how to be a kind human. Cute illustrations of zoo animal friends engaging in kind activities bring each letter to life.

7. The Nice Book by David Ezra Stein

A simple book of little illustrated animals depicting acts of kindness, and very short and simple rhymes to explain each one.

“Cuddle, nestle, nuzzle. Don’t tickle…well, maybe just a little.” Use this as a jumping off point to delve a little deeper into the topics about kindness and cooperation.

8. Where’d My Giggle Go? By Max Lucado

Sometimes, you just wake up feeling cranky, and you can’t find your “giggle.” When a boy’s giggle is gone, he looks high and low for it, and eventually finds it when helping make others smile.

A sweet rhyming book about the joy of helping others, and how that in turn makes us happy. The lengthier text makes this great for older tots, but the concept is great for readers of all ages.

9. ABCs of kindness by Samantha Berger

Teach your tot about ways to be kind to yourself, your friends and family, and the earth with this alphabet book.

Older tots will especially learn from this one, with the lengthier text and bigger words that younger tots may not be familiar with yet. Lots of great little nuggets of wisdom here!

10. Llama Llama Time to Share

Sharing is an act of kindness often put to the test for toddlers. Teach your little one that playing with friends is more fun when you’re able to share!

A new neighbor is over to play, and Llama Llama is very skeptical about sharing. He even rips his toy trying to take it back from his new friend. However, eventually he learns that sharing is much more fun! Your tot will enjoy the typical Llama Llama rhymes and relatable playtime scenarios.

11. Baby Be Kind by Cowen-Fletcher

Learn from this kind baby’s example in this simple rhyming book about children showing each other acts of kindness.

“Share warmth when it’s cold. Share cool when it’s hot. Share cookies and crackers, or whatever you’ve got.” Watch children take turns and play well together, setting an excellent example for your kiddo.

12. Find Out About Kindness by Mandy Archer

A lift-a-flap book to show toddlers how being kind to friends and family makes them happy.

Show your little one all sorts of ways they can make the people they love happy by showing them kindness in different situations.

13. Chicken Soup for the Soul BABIES: Everyone Shares (Except Cat): A Book About Sharing

Another fantastic book about kindness through sharing.

This cute and silly book about a group of friends who are really great about sharing…except Cat. Cat doesn’t like to share, but she is learning! Once Cat decides it’s okay to share with her friends, it makes her happy!

Your tot will be entertained by these relatable moments of sharing (or not sharing).

14. Dragons Make Great Friends

Teach your tot the joy of making friends with people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. This rhyming book is a great way to show your little one how to be a good and kind friend, and how you can find friends anywhere you look. You might even make friends with a mermaid, a pirate, and a knight!

15. Ollie Feels Fine by Toni Yuly

Ollie the octopus has a rough day, and experiences a whirlwind of emotions.

His friend Stella the starfish sees what emotional and overwhelming day he has had, and offers a hug. This makes Ollie feel MUCH better, and now he feels fine!

This colorful book teaches tots that helping our friends feel better is an act of kindness that makes us all happier.

I hope you and your little one enjoy bonding over these books about kindness. Subscribe below for more book lists like this!


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