33 Books About Forgiveness

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

Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Children’s literature offers a wonderful medium for helping your child develop the ability to forgive others, be it family members, friends, or others. We’ve compiled a list of the best children’s books that share stories about forgiveness. Some are motivational stories. Some are funny short stories. Some are famous stories you might recognize. All are helpful in sharing a lesson on forgiveness with children (or adults).

The list includes three types of books: board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are great for newborns and toddlers. Picture books are a good option to read aloud with toddlers or for young readers just learning to read on their own, usually elementary school age. They’re also a good option when looking for teaching material, like if you need a short story about forgiving a friend or want to develop a children’s lesson about forgiveness. Chapter books are great for kids elementary through early middle school age.

Please let us know what books you would add to the list.

The Snatchabook book
#1
The Snatchabook
Written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

The charming rhyming text and sweet yet spunky illustrations of The Snatchabook were created by a husband and wife team—how cool! Together they weave a FANTASTIC story about a love of reading and friendship that teaches kindness, understanding, empathy, and forgiveness… all while being absolutely enjoyable! This is sure to become an all-time favorite—it is one of ours!

Where have all the bedtime stories gone? A delightful addition to the picture book canon about the love of reading One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down…when a Snatchabook flew into town. It’s bedtime in the woods of Burrow Down, and all the animals are ready for their bedtime story. But books are mysteriously disappearing. Eliza Brown decides to to stay awake and catch the book thief. It turns out to be a little creature called the Snatchabook who has no one to read him a bedtime story. All turns out well when the books are returned and the animals take turns reading bedtime stories to the Snatchabook.

The Hundred Dresses book
#2
The Hundred Dresses
Written by Eleanor Estes and illustrated by Louis Slobodkin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Thoughts from Grammy

Although this story is many decades old, it’s message is every bit as relevant today as when the book was first published. I had read the book of a couple of times before I heard an audio version and the difference was dramatic, to actually hear the taunting, teasing girls. Don’t think for a minute that just because this book is ‘about dresses’ that it wouldn’t apply to boys as well. Every reader will easily be able to imagine themselves at the brunt of the teasing. The lessons of kindness, acceptance, and even forgiveness.

Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.” This powerful, timeless story has been reissued with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.

Jake and Lily book
#3
Jake and Lily
Written and illustrated by Jerry Spinelli
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

The best part about this book is the lesson on bullying. Not only do you have the characters witnessing bullying, one of the main characters takes part in bullying and walks through the feelings he has after, the forgiveness he receives, the empathy he gains, and what he does to try to make up for his actions.

This is a story about me, Lily. And me, Jake. We’re twins and we’re exactly alike. Not exactly! Whatever. This is a book we wrote about the summer we turned eleven and Jake ditched me. Please. I just started hanging out with some guys in the neighborhood. Right. So anyway, this is a book about goobers and supergoobers bullies clubhouses true friends things getting built and wrecked and rebuilt and about figuring out who we are. We wrote this together (sort of) so you’ll get to see both sides of our story. But you’ll probably agree with my side. You always have to have the last word, don’t you? Yes!

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse book
#4
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

This was a very cute story. Lilly was infatuated with her teacher. She thought he was the greatest. She wanted to be a teacher like him when she grew up. She pretended to be him at home, and she even bought a chain for her glasses just like his. Then the unthinkable happened. She had brought something very special to school and wanted to show everyone. Her teacher asked her to wait. She could not. She finally could not handle it and did not listen to her teacher. This caused some trouble and tension between the two of them. She was very very sad because she had really liked her teacher before. The best part is how her family helps her overcome this difficulty and she learns to apologize and to listen.

Lilly loves everything about school, especially her cool teacher, Mr. Slinger. But when Lilly brings her purple plastic purse and its treasures to school and can’t wait until sharing time, Mr. Slinger confiscates her prized possessions. Lilly’s fury leads to revenge and then to remorse and she sets out to make amends. Lilly, the star of Chester’s Way and Julius, the Baby of the World, is back. And this time she has her name in the title - something she’s wanted all along. If you thought Lilly was funny before, you are in for a treat. So hurry up and start reading. Lilly can’t wait for you to find out more about her.

Lumberjack's Beard book
#5
Lumberjack's Beard
Written and illustrated by Duncan Beedie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Thoughts from The Goodfather

This is a meaningful tale of making mistakes, trying to make things right again, and conservation, couched in the lighthearted tale of a lumberjack who loves flannel, limbering exercises, and tall stacks of pancakes with maple syrup. It’s a fun story with a playful illustration style and is sure to become a favorite!

Every day, Jim Hickory the lumberjack heads into the forest with his trusty axe and chops down trees. Unfortunately, all sorts of creatures lose their homes in the process, so Jim gives them a home in his beard - until one day it all just gets too much. Time for Jim to come up with a better solution! A story with a green message.

  1. No, David! - America’s favorite trouble maker will fill your home with good-natured laughter in this brand-new board book that celebrates 20 years of the bestselling, Caldecott-winning classic!

  2. Max and Marla Are Having a Picnic - Best friends Max and Marla are back in this charming spring tale of friendship and forgiveness Max and Marla know how to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. So when the first sunny day of spring comes along, they’ve got the perfect plan—a picnic! They pack up their favorite dishes and their comfiest blanket and then they’re off to the lake. Once they settle in, Max realizes the picnic needs one more thing to be just right: a bouquet for Marla. But while he’s gone, Marla falls asleep, leaving their picnic prey to some thieving squirrels. Max returns to find their spread ruined and says it’s all Marla’s fault. But best friends can’t stay mad for long . . . Max and Marla Are Having a Picnic is another adorable ode to friendship from fan favorite Alexandra Boiger.

  3. Honey Moon Shiver - B is for Bookworm - This was a fun, magical book about honesty, friendship, and forgiveness. I also think the hint of Halloween as they live in the town of Sleepy Hollow is a great addition to the book, which makes it a fun read for fall or any time of the year! When Honey gets caught in a tangle of lies, she learns that telling the truth is always the best policy, and she also learns to forgive her friend.

  4. Horrible Bear! - The New York Times-bestselling duo behind Wolfie the Bunny presents a hilarious new book about accidents, outbursts, manners…and the power of saying “I’m sorry.” Bear didn’t mean to break a little girl’s kite, but she’s upset anyway—upset enough to shout “HORRIBLE BEAR!” Bear is indignant. He doesn’t think he’s horrible! Then Bear gets a truly Horrible Bear idea. What will he do next? As Bear prepares to live up to his formerly undeserved reputation, the girl makes a mistake of her own, and realizes that maybe—just maybe—Bear isn’t as horrible as she had thought.

I Am Extremely Absolutely Boiling (Charlie and Lola) book
#10
I Am Extremely Absolutely Boiling (Charlie and Lola)
Written and illustrated by Lauren Child
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Charlie and Lola are trying their best to beat the summer heat, but things go from hot to boiling when Lola refuses to talk to her neighbor, Arnold Wolf. He accidentally knocked her ice cream to the ground and won’t apologize. Now Lola says that she will not ever, NEVER forgive him. Can Charlie help Lola change her mind?

Because of Mr. Terupt book
#11
Because of Mr. Terupt
Written and illustrated by Rob Buyea
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Seven students are about to have their lives changed by one amazing teacher in this school story sequel filled with unique characters every reader can relate to.

It’s the start of a new year at Snow Hill School, and seven students find themselves thrown together in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class. There’s . . . Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school.

They don’t have much in common, and they’ve never gotten along. Not until a certain new teacher arrives and helps them to find strength inside themselves—and in each other. But when Mr. Terupt suffers a terrible accident, will his students be able to remember the lessons he taught them? Or will their lives go back to the way they were before—before fifth grade and before Mr. Terupt?

Find out what happens in sixth and seventh grades in Mr. Terupt Falls Again and Saving Mr. Terupt, the can’t-miss follow ups to Because of Mr. Terupt!

“The characters are authentic and the short chapters are skillfully arranged to keep readers moving headlong toward the satisfying conclusion.”–School Library Journal, Starred

We All Need Forgiveness (Mercer Mayer's Little Critter) book
#12
We All Need Forgiveness (Mercer Mayer's Little Critter)
Written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Join Little Critter as he learns forgiving not only helps others-it makes him feel better too! Since 1975, Mercer Mayer has been writing and illustrating stories about Little Critter and the antics he stumbles into while growing up. Tommy Nelson is thrilled to bring this beloved brand to the Christian market with the Inspired Kids line of faith-based books featuring Little Critter.In We All Need Forgiveness, Little Critter is glad he has such nice friends who forgive him when he makes mistakes. But when one of his friends accidentally does something that affects him, Little Critter gets upset and stays angry at his friend for a while. But Little Critter’s pals teach him that saying ‘it’s okay’ helps the person who acted up-and it helps him feel better much sooner. Just like Mama says, ‘As God forgives, we must forgive each other.’ Based on Matthew 6:14, Little Critter learns why forgiveness helps heal the one who does the forgiving just as much as the one who needs forgiveness. Features & Benefits: - Little Critter brand has humorously portrayed issues kids face for almost 40 years - Faith-inspired message shows kids how to develop a spirit of forgiveness - Over 150 million Little Critter books sold.

You Poked My Heart! book
#13
You Poked My Heart!
Written by Brandy Cooke and illustrated by Laura Logan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Introducing You Poked My Heart!, a sweet board book featuring adorable puppies! Mom has a surprise for Sue and Lou. Two balloons! A red heart for Lou and a yellow one for Sue. Lou loves his red balloon, but Sue is disappointed with hers and wants Lou’s. She tries to take his balloon and accidentally pops it, prompting him to say, “You poked my heart!” Lou becomes very sad. Sue tries to fix the situation and finds a long, skinny red balloon, which she twists and fashions into a heart shape. Sue and Lou make up, and all is well again. Featuring adorable puppy illustrations by illustrator Laura Logan, this book is sure to tug (not poke!) at everyone’s heart!

The Berenstain Bears and the Forgiving Tree book
#14
The Berenstain Bears and the Forgiving Tree
Written by Jan Berenstain and illustrated by Mike Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Cousin Fred accidentally damages Brother’s brand-new bike,Brother Bear is angry. Can Sister Bear help him see that forgiving hisfriend is the right thing to do?

  1. As Brave As You - Kirkus Award Finalist Schneider Family Book Award Winner Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally—in this piercing middle grade novel by the winner of the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award. Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck and—being a curious kid—Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he covers it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans). How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house—as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into—a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out—he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all. Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder—is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?

  2. Shiloh Season - After Marty Preston worked so hard to earn the dog Shiloh, he had hoped that his troubles with Judd Travers were over. He could not rescue all the dogs that Judd mistreated, but since shiloh was the one who ran away and came to him, Shiloh was the one he loved. Judd, however, has other problems. Anyone who cheats and swears and lies and kicks his dogs has troubles inside himself, and when the man starts drinking, Marty realizes that Shiloh is in danger once again. As hunting season approaches and Judd begins hunting on their land, the Prestos know that something is bound to happen. They’re right. Marty does the only thing he can think of to do, and discovers just how deep a hurt can go and how long it takes to heal.

  3. The Forgiveness Garden - A long time ago and far away—although it could be here, and it could be now—a boy threw a stone and injured a girl. For as long as anyone could remember, their families had been enemies, and their towns as well, so it was no surprise that something bad had happened. Hate had happened. Revenge had happened. And that inspired more hate and more calls for revenge. But this time, a young girl decided to try something different… Inspired by the original Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Lebanon, and the movement that has grown up around it, Lauren Thompson has created a timeless parable for all ages that shows readers a better way to resolve conflicts and emphasizes the importance of moving forward together.

  4. The Lemonade War - Evan Treski, who is people-smart, and his younger sister Jesse, who is math-smart, battle it out through competing lemonade stands, each trying to be the first to earn one hundred dollars.

The Wright 3 book
#19
The Wright 3
Written by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In the midst of a series of unexplained accidents and mysterious coincidences, sixth-graders Calder, Petra, and Tommy lead their classmates in an attempt to keep Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Robie House from being demolished.

The Year the Swallows Came Early book
#20
The Year the Swallows Came Early
Written and illustrated by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Eleanor “Groovy” Robinson loves cooking and plans to go to culinary school just as soon as she’s old enough. But even Groovy’s thoughtfully—planned menus won’t fix the things that start to go wrong the year she turns eleven—suddenly, her father is in jail, her best friend’s long-absent mother reappears, and the swallows that make their annual migration to her hometown arrive surprisingly early. As Groovy begins to expect the unexpected, she learns about the importance of forgiveness, understands the complex stories of the people around her, and realizes that even an earthquake can’t get in the way of a family that needs to come together. Kathryn Fitzmaurice’s lovely debut novel is distinctively Californian in its flavor. Her rich characters and strong sense of place feel both familiar and fresh at first meeting—and worth revisiting, again and again.

Enemy Pie book
#21
Enemy Pie
Written by Derek Munson and illustrated by Tara Calahan King
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

It was the perfect summer. That is, until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street and became neighborhood enemy number one. Luckily Dad had a surefire way to get rid of enemies: Enemy Pie. But part of the secret recipe is spending an entire day playing with the enemy!

In this funny yet endearing story, one little boy learns an effective recipe for turning your best enemy into your best friend. Accompanied by charming illustrations, Enemy Pie serves up a sweet lesson in the difficulties and ultimate rewards of making new friends.

The Bear Who Stared book
#22
The Bear Who Stared
Written and illustrated by Duncan Beedie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

There once was a bear who liked to stare… and stare… and STARE. Bear doesn’t mean to be rude, he’s just curious but too shy to say anything. But nobody likes being stared at and it soon gets Bear into trouble. Luckily a goggly-eyed frog helps Bear realise that sometimes a smile is all you need to turn a stare into a friendly hello.

Sealed with a Kiss book
#23
Sealed with a Kiss
Written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Olivier Tallec
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What’s a seal to do when she’s new to the zoo? Make new friends, of course!

But when the other animals aren’t so friendly, a wise sparrow inspires them to surprise Seal with a special treat.

Full of heart and humor, this story of friendship and forgiveness from bestselling author Beth Ferry and illustrator Olivier Tallec will have little ones giggling along, and it makes for a fun Valentine’s Day gift!

  1. The Selfish Giant - A beloved tale that has lasted for generations, The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, one of the world’s greatest writers, tells the tale of a very selfish giant, his wonderful garden, the curious and playful village children, and, of course, the little child who changes the giant’s heart. A beloved classic in English literature, The Selfish Giant may be Oscar Wilde’s greatest story of redemption and forgiveness. Newly illustrated by renowned artist Jeanne Bowman, this fantastic edition of this famous tale showcases Wilde’s story in a pallet and composition that will delight and inspire both young and old and will become a family treasure to be read again and again.

  2. Feast of Peas - Hard-working Jiva might not be the only one anticipating a delicious feast of peas from his garden. Every morning, Jiva works in his garden until the sun turns as red as a bride’s sari. He plants peas and beans, potatoes and tomatoes, eggplants and okra in his vegetable patch. When his friend Ruvji admires his plants Jiva sings, Plump peas, sweet peas, Lined- up-in-the-shell peas. Peas to munch, peas to crunch A feast of peas for lunch. But each time Jiva is ready to pick the peas for his feast, they’re already gone. What has happened? From the award-winning author and illustrator team who created Tiger in My Soup, this original story set in India features a deliciously amusing mystery about gardening, anticipation, hard work, and generosity.

  3. Three Bears in a Boat - From the co-creator of the New York Times bestselling Ladybug Girl series comes a high seas adventure inspired by the classic picture books Little Bear and Where the Wild Things Are. Three bear siblings break their mother’s favorite blue seashell, and rather than tell her, they decide to set out in their sailboat to find her a new one. On their quest they encounter salty sailors, strange new islands, huge whales, and vast seas but no blue seashells. When a treacherous storm suddenly blows in, the three bears find themselves tossed about in their little boat, far from Mama. What will become of their search, and what will it take to bring them safely home? This read aloud shares its best qualities with classic picture books: breath-taking illustrations, epic adventure, and a subtle message about taking responsibility for your actions.

  4. Martha doesn't say sorry! - Adorably clad in her pink dress and matching headband, Martha is ready to do just about anything-except say those three little words: I am sorry. But when this sweet but stubborn otter learns that niceties like cookies, piggyback rides, and hugs are for people who apologize our mischievous heroine learns the ultimately rewarding feeling that comes with saying she’s sorry. Parents and kids alike will embrace the hilarious watercolor illustrations and the irreverent humor throughout in this pitch-perfect picture book that offers the gentlest of lessons.

Kevin book
#28
Kevin
Written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The glorious new picture book from the bestselling, award-winning author of Blown Away and GRRRRR!, all about one boy, one Kevin, and one very special friendship… Uh-oh - Sid Gibbons is in trouble again! Time to think fast… When Sid makes yet another mess, and his mum is at the end of her patience, Sid does what every quick-thinking kid would do - he blames it on his big, furry, vanilla-and-pink friend Kevin! And while it seemed like a good idea at the time, Sid gets an unexpected surprise when he finds out that Kevin and his world might not be so imaginary after all - and while his friend might be make-believe, his feelings are very real. A beautifully illustrated rhyming tale of friendship, kindness and stepping up, from a rare picture book talent. The perfect story for any child, from age three and up.

I Love My New Toy! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) book
#29
I Love My New Toy! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.

Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In I Love My New Toy!, Piggie can’t wait to show Gerald her brand new toy. But will an accidentally broken toy accidentally break a friendship?

Happy Birthday, Moon book
#30
Happy Birthday, Moon
Written and illustrated by Frank Asch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Moonbear discovers that he and the moon share the same birthday. Now Moonbear wants to give his nighttime friend a present. But what do you buy the moon?

Grandad Mandela book
#31
Grandad Mandela
Written and illustrated by Zazi Mandela, Ziwelene Mandela, and Zindzi Mandela
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Two great-grandchildren ask their grandmother 15 questions about the man they remember as Grandad, and the world remembers as Nelson Mandela, the global icon of peace and forgiveness who spent 27 years in prison. They learn that he was a freedom fighter who put down his weapons for the sake of peace, and who then became the President of South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize-winner, and realise that they can continue his legacy in the world today. Seen through a child’s perspective, and authored jointly by his great-grandchildren and daughter, this amazing story is told as never before to celebrate what would have been Nelson’s Mandela 100th birthday.

Mouse Says "Sorry" book
#32
Mouse Says "Sorry"
Written by Michael Dahl and illustrated by Oriol Vidal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Mouse is late for supper. He has to hurry home, but he won’t get there without using his manners. This sturdy board book helps toddlers understand when and why to say sorry.

  1. Mini Myths: Play Nice, Hercules! - Hercules is not as interested in “playing nice” as he is in playing strong! But when one feat of strength destroys his little sister’s 12-piece tower, he must use his powers for good to restore the tower and seek her forgiveness. She forgives him indeed, and then shows her own strength by gleefully knocking down the stacked blocks herself! Joan Holub’s expertly focused text pairs perfectly with Leslie Patricelli’s famously humorous illustrations. Includes a summary of the original Hercules’s Twelve Labors myth at the end.

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