Our Family’s Favorite Kindness Books

I’m not always the best interactive mom.  When I join in during play kitchen, my kids tell me I’m not playing the “right” way.  Whatever that means.  Art and reading, I totally shine.  Sometimes, Reece and Kat even prefer MOM to read the book instead of Dad!  It’s kind of a big deal in my house because if Dad is home, it’s alllll about Dada!  In big ways and small, these are just a few of our favorite books that make Reece and Kat think.  Wether it’s about the environment, equality, or kindness, these books help open up the conversation to discuss topics in an age appropriate way.

A Kitten Tale and Grumpy CatIMG_9573

A Kitten Tale is a sweet tale about three kittens who have never seen snow and worry about the day the snow will come, with a forth kitten who excitedly waits to see snow someday.  At the end of the book we discover all the worry is for nothing and snow is fun and exciting.

Kitten wants to be friends with Grumpy Cat but he’s having none of it.  I love the idea that Grumpy Cat, while seemingly grumpy is really just a lonely cat who wants to be friends but doesn’t know how.  Sometimes, when we are scared or lonely, we will behave in ways that reenforce being ostracized.

My husband thinks I’m overthinking these stories. I think it’s a jumping off point for young children.  As these books are newborn and up, the stories are straight forward so toddlers and preschoolers can understand.  I’ve been reading these cat books for over 4 years now.  My son still likes to analyze why Grumpy Cat is so grumpy and how silly it was that the kittens worried so much about something so great.

The Bad SeedIMG_9564

My four year old has a lot of questions while reading The Bad Seed.  “The seed is cracked, he’s broken, will he ever be fixed?”  The Bad Seed is rude and unthoughtful.  We learn, he wasn’t always a bad seed, back in his days on the sunflower.  The book teaches kids if you want to change yourself, it is within your power to do so.  Work hard enough, you can even change peoples perception of you.  You don’t always have to be a Baaaaaad Seed.

Not Quite NarwhalNot Quite Narwhal.jpg

In Not Quite Narwhal, Kelp, a unicorn, is born in the ocean believing he is a narwhal and always feeling a little off from all his friends.  One day Kelp is swept away by an ocean current to the shore.  He learns about unicorns and that he is in face a unicorn as well.  He loves being with the unicorns but realizes he misses his home.  Will his old friends accept him even though he is not a narwhal?

A fun story that incorporates a great lesson about self acceptance, differences in others, and friendship.  Super sweet, Reece loves to cuddle with me on the couch just to read this book, then brings it upstairs so Dad can read it for bedtime.

She PersistedIMG_9559

She Persisted turned out to be a surprise hit in our house.  She Persisted gives examples of women throughout history who have overcome obstacles, highlights their successes, and encourages young girls to pursue their goals.  Even if others say No.

The Sneetches and The LoraxIMG_9582

The Sneetches highlights that differences are nothing more than differences that shouldn’t define who a person (or Sneetch) is.  Told in a fun way that is understandable for toddlers and up.  As an adult, when you are reading the book, you think about how silly the Sneetches are being to let something so unimportant dictate their thoughts and feelings towards others.  What I hope my children get out of this book is something that they can take out into the world around them.  Stars or no stars, such a thing really doesn’t really matter at all.

A lot of conversations about recycling, reducing waste, and growing our garden, stem from (no pun intended) The Lorax.  As most know, it’s a story of the progression of a beautiful Truffula forest that is overtaken by consumerism and excess, then pollution.  The Lorax gives warnings which are dismissed until everything is consumed.  Is this the end of the Truffula tress?  Will the humming fish hum again?

What Do You Do With A Problem? and What Do You Do With An Idea?IMG_9578

What Do You Do With A Problem? and What Do You Do With An Idea? are beautifully illustrated.  I’ll admit, I love these books more than my children, but I can see the wheels turning during bedtime while we read.  The books are all about avoiding problems/exploring ideas out of fear of ridicule or failure.  When we run away from the idea and problem, it grows and continues to follow us.  Once we embrace them, we learn it wasn’t as bad as we had made it out to be.  In fact, they are pretty great.  Taking on problems and embracing our ideas improve and nourish us.

What to do with an idea - book page

Last Stop On Market Street and Those ShoesIMG_9568

I have a soft spot for Last Stop On Market Street because, like CJ, I also had a Nana whom I had a special bond with growing up.  Nana’s thoughtful answers to CJ’s questions during their bus ride highlight the good and beauty around them.  Nana helps CJ observe the people and world beyond the superficial surface.  Reece asks a lot of questions about the soup kitchen which makes for great discussions about the world outside our house.

Jeremy badly wants a pair of Those Shoes that all the other kids in his class wears.  I think even adults can relate to wanting something out of reach but having to instead, stay within their means to buy what they need.  Themes of the book compassion, kindness, and sharing are all easy enough to understand for adults, but might go over a preschoolers head, maybe in the next year or two it won’t go over Reece’s head as much.  This book is a great jumping off point to start a conversation and explore further in order to really get your child’s mind thinking.

Both books takes place in urban settings and highlight diversity.  Is it just me, or are most children’s books in very rural or suburban settings?  Both are great books for opening up a discussion about diversity with preschoolers.

Good Night Stories For Rebel GirlsIMG_9547

Daughters or sons, it doesn’t matter, Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls is great, highlighting the successes of 100 different women.  Women of all different backgrounds, education, race, incomes.  This is a pretty comprehensive book for younger kids, probably better suited for kindergarten or older, but Reece does like the pictures and can get through a page or two without losing interest.  Since school has started because Reece started coming home saying, “Girls can do [x, y, z].  Catherine can’t do that, only boys can.”  Which makes me glad we can read Goodnight Stories to reinforce that anything boys can do, girls can do also!

What books do you read with your children that have a focus on kindness?

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