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Compassion: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about compassion?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to compassion. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about compassion.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about compassion, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Come with Me to popular sellers like Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug to some of our favorite hidden gems like I Am Human.

We hope this list of kids books about compassion can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

I Am Human
Written by Susan Verde & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A child recognizes his own humanity, his capacity for doing harm and being harmed, his ability to feel joy and sadness, and his belief in hope and promise to keep learning.

Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug
Written by Jonathan Stutzman & illustrated by Jay Fleck
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Tiny T. Rex has a HUGE problem. His friend Pointy needs cheering up and only a hug will do. But with his short stature and teeny T. Rex arms, is a hug impossible? Not if Tiny has anything to say about it! Join this plucky little dinosaur in his very first adventure—a warm and funny tale that proves the best hugs come from the biggest hearts. Introducing an unforgettable character on the picture book scene, Tiny T. Rex will stomp into the hearts of readers in this winning new series.

Nothing in Common
Written by Kate Hoefler & illustrated by Corinna Luyken
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A tender and timely story of compassion and finding common ground with others, perfect for fans of _I Walk With Vanessa _and Thank You, Omu!

Two neighbors both love to watch the old man and his dog from their windows, but they never wave to each other. After all, they have nothing in common. But everything changes when they are the only ones who notice that one day is different—there is the old man, but where is the dog?

In this lyrical picture book, two strangers learn about the many ways the world connects us—even if the only thing we have in common is how much we care about someone else. Filled with whimsy and warmth, Nothing In Common is a tender friendship story that reminds us to always lead with compassion.

Izzy Gizmo
Written by Pip Jones & illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Izzy Gizmo loves to invent but gets frustrated when her inventions fail to work properly, so when she finds a crow with a broken wing her grandfather urges her to persist until she finds a way to help.

Out There
Written & illustrated by Tom Sullivan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This stunning picture book will have young readers wondering about outer space and life on other planets while imparting a surprising and profound message of empathy. From the author/illustrator of Blue vs. Yellow and I Used to Be a Fish. Do you ever look up at the night sky and wonder if there is anybody else out there? Are there evil robots or cool aliens? Do they fly in UFOs or live in futuristic cities? Or maybe . . . they are just like us. Out There is a wonder-filled, surprising journey of imagination and empathy, a book that will inspire readers of all ages to reflect on how much we all have in common, despite our differences.

  • Come with Me - When the news reports are flooded with tales of hatred and fear, a girl asks her papa what she can do to make the world a better place. “Come with me,” he says. Hand-in-hand, they walk to the subway, tipping their hats to those they meet. The next day, the girl asks her mama what she can do—her mama says, “Come with me,” and together they set out for the grocery, because one person doesn’t represent an entire race or the people of a land. After dinner that night, the little girl asks if she can do something of her own—walk the dog . . . and her parents let her go. “Come with me,” the girl tells the boy across the hall. Walking together, one step at a time, the girl and the boy begin to see that as small and insignificant as their part may seem, it matters to the world. In this lyrical and timely story, author Holly M. McGhee and illustrator Pascal Lemaître champion the power of kindness, bravery, and friendship in the face of uncertainty.

  • Noah Builds an Ark - A storm is coming — a big one. How does a young urban boy prepare? A lovely allegorical story about ecology and caring inspired by the ancient tale of stewardship. While his family readies his townhouse for an approaching storm, boarding up windows and laying in groceries, Noah heads to the back garden, where beetles are burrowing deeper into the bark and mice are stuffing their hole with moss. Quickly and efficiently, Noah sets to work building an ark for them and other backyard creatures — salamanders and toads, snakes and spiders, even brightly colored hummingbirds. Setting out fistfuls of nuts and leaves, berries and seeds, the boy props a flashlight inside and arranges some miniature furniture for the animals to sit or sleep on. “Come,” Noah whispers to his friends just as his mother calls him inside and the dark storm roars in. From an award-winning author and a Caldecott Honoree comes a quietly inspiring story about how taking action on behalf of our fellow earth travelers can help us face fearsome events.

  • The Seed of Compassion: Lessons from the Life and Teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama - For the first time ever, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate His Holiness the Dalai Lama addresses children directly, sharing lessons of peace and compassion, told through stories of his own childhood. One of today’s most inspiring world leaders was once an ordinary child named Lhamo Thondup. In a small village in Tibet, his mother was his first great teacher of compassion. In everyday moments from his childhood, young readers begin to see that important lessons are all around us, and that they, too, can grow to truly understand them. With simple, powerful text, the Dalai Lama shares the universalist teachings of treating one another with compassion, which Bao Luu illustrates beautifully in vibrant color. In an increasingly confusing world, The Seed of Compassion offers guidance and encouragement on how we all might bring more kindness to it.

  • How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear? - You and your friend Bear are an excellent pair. But if your friend gets sick, And can’t do all the things that you two love to do… You may wonder—how do you care for a very sick Bear? When someone dear is dealing with illness, it’s difficult to know what to do or say. The actor Vanessa Bayer experienced this firsthand when she was treated for childhood leukemia. In her first children’s book, she offers gentle, reassuring advice that people of all ages will appreciate.

How To Mend a Heart
Written & illustrated by Sara Gillingham
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A charming arts-and-crafts approach to dealing with first moments of heartbreak. Be it caused by a lost pet, a friend’s moving away, or even simple childhood injustice, Sara Gillingham (How to Grow a Friend) understands the gentle touch needed to soothe a sore heart. Her fresh and whimsical design makes an enticing vehicle for her advice.

As Big as the Sky
Written by Carolyn Rose & illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-18

What happens when a brother and sister who share a love as big as the sky must separate? This heartwarming story set in an African village shows that with a little generosity, there’s always a way to come together.

In a small African village in Malawi, Prisca and her brother Caleb work together and play together, chasing each other as fast as they can. But when Caleb has to leave home to attend a good school, Prisca misses him terribly. Hoping to earn enough money to visit him, Prisca begs a local peddler to sell her crafts—but no one buys what she’s made. However, thanks to Prisca’s kindness and compassion, her dreams of reuniting with Caleb just may come true.

Pass It on
Written & illustrated by Sophy Henn
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Here’s a fun idea: When you laugh or smile–pass it on! A story about giving, sharing, and joy.

When you see something terrific, smile a smile and pass it on! If you chance upon a chuckle, hee hee hee and pass it on. Should you spot a thing of wonder, jump for joy and pass it on!

So begins Sophy Henn’s ode to the excitement of sharing happiness with others. With a refrain that begs to be uttered before every turn of the page, children will eagerly read alongside their parents as they discover how wonderful–and fun!–it is to share the good things in life. After all, if you spread happiness to others, even on a gray, rainy day, when you least expect it, like a bolt out of the blue, a smile or a chuckle might be passed right back to you! This heartwarming, upbeat book is the perfect way to bring a warm ray of sunshine into every reader’s life.

Bringing Me Back
Written & illustrated by Beth Vrabel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Noah is not having a good year. His mom is in prison, he’s living with his mom’s boyfriend—who he’s sure is just waiting until his mother’s six month sentence is up to kick him out—and he’s officially hated by everyone at his middle school, including his former best friend. It’s Noah’s fault that the entire football program got shut down after last year. One day, Noah notices a young bear at the edge of the woods with her head stuck in a bucket. A bucket that was almost certainly left outside as part of a school fundraiser to bring back the football team. As days go by, the bear is still stuck—she’s wasting away and clearly getting weaker, even as she runs from anyone who tries to help. And she’s always alone. Though Noah ignores the taunts at school and ignores his mother’s phone calls from jail, he can’t ignore the bear. Everyone else has written the bear off as a lost cause—just like they have with Noah. He makes it his mission to help her. But rescuing the bear means tackling his past—and present—head-on. Could saving the bear ultimately save Noah, too?

Happiness Doesn't Come from Headstands
Written & illustrated by Tamara Levitt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Trying—and failing—can be a path to happiness too. Leela loves to do yoga. She could do all sorts of poses, but there was one pose she couldn’t do. Every time Leela tried to do a headstand…KERPLUNK! This book explores the themes of acceptance, resilience, and self-compassion and offers the message that just because we may experience a failure does not mean that we are a failure. Written as a counterpoint to the message of The Little Engine that Could, Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands is a story about a girl who tries her best, but still falls down. Through the process she learns that happiness is not determined by external achievement. Even in the face of failure, peace can be found if we accept that we cannot do everything and focus on our experience.

  • We Really Do Care - Inspired by current events, this picture book shows the importance of compassion, empathy, and demonstrates how even the smallest act of kindness can make a difference. A little boy has a ball. It’s his, and he really doesn’t care if nobody else has a ball. He’s not sharing. He’s not sharing his pets either. Or his family. Especially not his brother. But then he realizes that both he and the new little girl he meets—the one who’s all alone without a ball or a pet or a family of her own—are actually quite similiar. And when he sees their similarities instead of their differences, he’s happy to share. Even his little brother. With gentle text from Tami Lewis Brown and sweet illustrations from Tania de Regil, this poignant and touching picture book challenges each and every one of us to to lend a helping hand. Because we really should care. Perfect for fans of Be Kind and All Are Welcome.

  • The Prince Who Was Just Himself - Lacking the athletic and reading skills of his older brothers, Prince Noah uses love and compassion to save the kingdom from the Black Knight.

  • Gimme Shelter: Misadventures and Misinformation - The Chicken Squad is back for their fifth (mis)adventure in this “lip-bitingly funny” (School Library Journal) chapter book from the bestselling author of Click, Clack, Moo and The Trouble with Chickens. The Chicken Squad prides themselves on being ready for anything. Marshmallow life preservers? Check. Copious bags of jellybeans for a car ride? Check. Storm shelter? Storm shelter! They need a storm shelter in case there is ever a storm. So Sugar takes it upon himself to build one in the yard. But it turns out it’s not big enough for everyone. And the big dig has unearthed some mysterious surprises.

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