Volunteering to change the world

Best Children’s Books that Teach Kindness, Empathy, Inclusion, Compassion, Friendship, and Love

We’ve hand-picked some of the very best children’s books about kindness and giving back, and we wanted to share some of our favorite titles with you.  These perfect picks to read or gift are guaranteed to both inspire children with a love of reading and a desire to make the world a better place.  Please join in on these reading adventures that teach kids about kindness, inclusion, empathy, generosity and much more. 

These wonderful books appear in no particular order.  Happy reading!  Enjoy!


Mr. Quigley’s Keys

Written by Barbara Gruener; Illustrated by Audrye Williams

Ages: 4-12

We have the excellent fortune to know this author, Barbara Gruener, and it makes sense to us that such wonderful person would write such a wonderful book.  This is a “don’t miss” title and should be read to children by parents and teachers everywhere.  The book was written based on a real-life story of an unsung hero, a school handyman who walks the halls looking for ways to serve others.  Mr. Quigley’s keys represent his school’s keys to connection: love, perseverance,  work ethic, empathy, goodness, and peace.   You’ll want to read this again and again, it is just that good! 


Harold Loves His Woolly Hat

By Vern Kousky

Ages: 3-7 years

Such a great book!   Harold loves his striped wooly hat.  He wears it all the time.  He wears it when he sleeps, when he goes to school, and even when he takes a bath.  One day, a crow carries Harold’s hat away off into the trees to his nest. Harold tries everything to get his hat back, but nothing seems to work.   Eventually Harold climbs the tree to get his hat back and sees three baby crows are using the hat to stay warm.  This heartwarming picture book features a lovable bear who learns that’s what most important is who you are and not what you have.



Written and Illustrated by Sally Anne Garland

Ages: 4-7 years

Nook is a small, floppy-eared bunny who is shy and not very confident.  She prefers to bashfully hide in a nook rather than play with the other animals. When a mean badger takes over her special place, Nook’s friends step in to support her by showing her kindness and inclusion. This is an adorable book about confidence, trust, kindness, inclusion, and friendship.  


A Gift From Little Raccoon A Pandemic Tale

By Carolyn Watson Dubisch

Ages:  3-8 years


This is a lovely story about friends loving and supporting each other.  The Little Raccoon and other animals bring small gifts of kindness to a girl who is in quarantine due to the pandemic with the hope of seeing her smile again.  The book teaches the simple lesson to young children about the importance of generosity and kindness towards others.  It’s a heartwarming story with fabulous illustrations – worth the read!


Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed

Written by Emily Pearson; Illustrated by Fumi Kosaka

Age: 4-8 years


One of our all-time favorite books!  Can one child’s good deed make the world a better place?  The answer is a definite yes!  When an “ordinary” girl named Mary picks berries for her neighbor, she starts a chain reaction of good deeds that multiplies around the world.  This book is lovely and one no child should miss! 


Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids

Written by Carol McCloud; Illustrated by David Messing 
Ages: 4-9 years

A long-time favorite book that we’ve shared many times at story hours, please don’t miss out on reading this one!  This extraordinary book teaches children how their kind actions can change the world.  Giving, caring, and sharing help create a positive world for everyone.  Also available are workbooks and lesson support materials… great for teachers to share with students!


A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Written by Philip C. Stead; Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Ages: 3-10 years

This is a great read-aloud book and a favorite amongst teachers. An elderly zookeeper, Amos McGee, takes special time each day to care for and love the animals in the zoo.  He always makes time to visit his good friends.  He plays chess with the elephant, runs races with the tortoise, and read stories at sunset to the owl who is afraid of the dark.  When Amos gets sick with a cold, his animal friends return Amos’ kindnesses and take care of their sweet zookeeper. The book is an amazing reminder for children that the relationships they create are a direct result of how they treat others. 


How to Heal a Broken Wing

Written and Illustrated by Bob Graham

Ages: 5-8 years

After reading this book, children will come away knowing that every life matters and each individual can make a difference by caring.  This book is guaranteed to touch your heart.  In the story, a young boy named Will finds an injured pigeon in a busy area.  No one else seems to notice or care.  With his mother’s help, Will brings the bird home and with plenty of love, nurses it back to health.  It’s a beautiful story with a powerful yet simple message. 


Kindness Makes Us Strong 

By Sophie Beer

Ages: 0-3 years 

This delightful preschool read-along board book is excellent for children 0-3 years of age.  The rhythmic, repetitive text and bright, happy pictures makes this book fun to read out loud and fun for listeners too!   


Be Kind

Written by Pat Zietlow Miller; Illustrated by Jen Hill

Ages: 3-6 years

Helping children understand what it means to be kind is what this story is about and includes plenty of examples of how to make kind choices.  This book provides a terrific opening to begin conversations with children about how to be kind to others.  Simple and sweet, you’ll enjoy it!



If you would like to become a DIY volunteer with Small Acts Big Change, please look through our posts for the perfect give-back opportunity for you.  Subscribe to this page, Make a Difference From Home, to keep up on our latest and greatest volunteer-from-home projects.  

This blog is hosted by Small Acts Big Change, a nonprofit organization helping people volunteer to change the world through kindness and service. 



Would you like to bring a volunteer project by Make a Difference From Home to a group you are involved with while still practicing social distancing? Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, schools, businesses or other groups, please contact Carolyn  at [email protected] for more information.


Thank you for helping to spread happiness and kindness throughout the world.  

Article written by:

Small Acts Big Change presents Make a Difference From Home. This blog is filled with fun DIY do-good projects to help people of all ages volunteer from the comfort of their own homes. Students can earn service hours on many of our projects. Thanks for making a difference!