booklist-kindnessOne reason I love Sesame Street – and why it continues to delight audiences 48-years after its debut — is this: On Sesame Street, there is room for everyone.

Humans, animals, and monsters of different ages, colors, backgrounds, and personalities live together in harmony. Characters don’t always get along. Like all friends and neighbors, they deal with misunderstandings, challenges, and hurt feelings. But in these moments, they model how to bounce back: how to listen, how to apologize, and how to show a little extra kindness to someone who needs it.

 

As parents, we can build on these strong messages by reading books to our children that explore empathy, celebrate diversity, and encourage kindness. Here are ten books to get you started.

 

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum thinks her name is “absolutely perfect.” That is until she starts school and classmates begin to tease her about it. But with some help from her parents, and an extraordinary teacher, Chrysanthemum and her classmates find a way to look at the situation from a different point of view.

It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
This bright, colorful book shares a simple message: It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be who you are. Concepts range from the silly (“It’s okay to be missing a tooth, or two or three”) to the serious “(It’s okay to talk need some help.”)

The Monster Who Lost His Mean by Tiffany Strelitz Haber (Author) & Kirstie Edmunds  (Illustrator)
The M in “monster” stands for “Mean,” right? But one little monster loses his “M” –  and now he feels different from his monster pals. He tries to get his “mean” back, but some new friends help him see that he doesn’t need that “M” to be special.

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Author) & Patrice Barton  (Illustrator)
Brian feels invisible –  nobody seems to notice him or invite him to play. But when he teams up with a new kid in class to work on a project, this new friendship helps them both step into the light.

How Kind! by Mary Murphy
Kindness is contagious! In this animal tale, one act of kindness has a ripple effect through the barnyard, with one good deed leading to another.  

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
After their belongings are destroyed in a fire, a grandmother, mother, and young daughter save up for a soft chair for snuggling and resting at the end of the day. The family is helped along the way by kind neighbors, relatives, and co-workers – highlighting the importance of extending love and support to those in need.

Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen (Author) and Kristina Swarner (Illustrator)
This book echoes Fred Rogers famous advice during times of tragedy, “Look for the helpers,” and describes ordinary people in our communities doing good things — from farmers to doctors to teachers to builders.

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (Author) and Guy Parker-Rees (Illustrator)
Gerald the Giraffe wants to dance, but his gangly limbs provoke more laughs than applause.  But a little cricket helps him realize that he just has to find how own beat, his own moves, and his own music.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña (Author) & Christian Robinson (Illustrator)
This award-winning book follows a boy and his grandmother as they take a public bus across town. His grandmother’s interest in and compassion for the people they encounter on their trip leaves a lasting impression on her grandson – and the reader.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud (Author) & David Messing (Illustrator)
“All day long, everyone in the world walks around carrying an invisible bucket . . . You feel happy and good when your bucket is full, and you feel sad and lonely when your bucket is empty.” Using this simple metaphor, the author encourages children to be “bucket fillers” by showing kindness and love to others.

 

About Deborah Farmer Kris

Deborah Farmer Kris spent several years as a K-12 educator and as an associate at Boston University’s Center for Character and Social Responsibility. She is a regular contributor for MindShift and the mother of two young children. You can follow her on Twitter @dfkris.

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