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Choosing Cheeriness and Kindness: Books For Kids

We all tell our children that happiness is a choice, and here are the books to help you prove it! We've compiled a list of our favorite 30 books that exemplify choosing cheeriness, because this lesson is never too early to learn, and you can never have too many reminders. It's hard to learn to regulate your emotions (just ask any two-year-old!), and if we're being honest, it's something we're even mastering as adults. These books are great way to learn and reinforce the knowledge that we control our emotions, no matter our circumstances. To quote Leo Tolstoy, "If you want to be happy, be."

Be Happy! book
#1
Be Happy!
Written and illustrated by Monica Sheehan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

A great introduction to the idea that happiness isn't something that happens to you, it's something you make for yourself with your actions and your attitude. It's geared towards a little older crowd than my 18 month old son, but by adding a little discussion about what's happening with the dog and mouse on each page we both enjoy it, and it's honestly a great reminder for me as a mom to be mindful about CHOOSING to be happy.

Monica Sheehan has taken her bestselling book be happy. and created an irresistible little gem for people BIG & small. So open it up and get inspired to . . . Sing and dance a little! Have fun! Be kind--be brave! And be the best YOU.

Bernice Gets Carried Away book
#2
Bernice Gets Carried Away
Written and illustrated by Hannah Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This book is amazing and I love it so much! The illustrations are beyond phenomenal—gorgeous, wonderfully detailed, and absolutely expressive— and the message that happiness is a choice and best achieved by having empathy for others and helping and sharing with others is fantastic. This is definitely a favorite.

Having missed out on the other treats at a friend's birthday party, a grumpy cat grabs all of the balloons and floats into the sky, where she sees that her problems are not so big, after all.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? book
#3
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
Written by Carol McCloud and illustrated by David Messing
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-9
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book does a fantastic job of just laying it all on the table so it's super simple and easy to understand how to make others happy, and, in turn, how it makes you happy. :) I love the message of this book and I actually love how explanatory it is, even though that's not my usual style. There are even specific examples given. I also think the visual aid of the buckets is a great way to teach kids this concept! But any book that teaches you how to make others happy and yourself happy is a winner in my book!

"Children are not the only ones that need to learn how to be truly happy. It's all in the bucket, that invisible bucket that follows you everywhere... teaches young readers valuable lessons about giving, sharing, and caring. This guide to daily happiness, though, is not just for kids. We all need reminders of the benefits of positive thinking and positive behavior. It's an important lesson to teach and remind us all . . . that showing kindness and appreciation of others goes a long way to making this world a happier place for everyone, including ourselves. A classic tale, beautifully told and beautifully shared." —Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Readers' Favorite Book Reviews While using a simple metaphor of a bucket and a dipper, author Carol McCloud illustrates that when we choose to be kind, we not only fill the buckets of those around us, but also fill our OWN bucket! Conversely, when we choose to say or do mean things, we are dipping into buckets. All day long, we are either filling up or dipping into each other's buckets by what we say and what we do. When you're a bucket filler, you make the world a better place to be! This 32-page picture book is perfect for children, parents, grandparents, teachers and people that want to teach empathy, nurture kindness and create a positive environment in their home, classroom, workplace and community.

Miles of Smiles book
#4
Miles of Smiles
Written by Karen Kaufman Orloff and illustrated by Luciano Lozano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

When someone smiles, who knows where it goes? Baby smiles at Mommy, Mom keeps it for a while . . . and then passes it on. As the smile begins its joyful journey--moving from a first-grade class to a soccer team, from Gran to a garbage man, even to a puppy--it spreads happiness throughout the community, bringing everyone together. A sunny picture book guaranteed to make kids SMILE!

Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy book
#5
Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy
Written and illustrated by Bernadette Russell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

"In this book are lots of acts of kindness that kids can do to spread a little joy -- with a side order of mischief and magic!" --P. [4] of cover.

  1. Terrific - When grumpy Eugene wins a free cruise to Bermuda, he thinks he knows just what to expect: a really nasty sunburn. But instead, after a shipwreck, he finds himself stranded on a tiny island with no one—except for a parrot with a busted wing. “Terrific,” says Eugene. “What good is a parrot?” It turns out a parrot is good for a lot, including planning a very elaborate escape. And when the castaways are rescued by a team of fishermen, it’s Eugene’s turn to be kind to his new friend.

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!