Best Books for Teaching Compassion

Teaching compassion and caring for others isn’t a straightforward task. Children learn these traits through positive examples and the ‘good feeling’ they get after treating others with compassion and caring. One very powerful way to foster compassion and caring is to deliberately create opportunities for kids to act compassionately, like service learning activities. The impact of these experiential activities can be life-changing.

But there’s another way: help kids to learn by example thru storybooks on compassion! Parents and teachers can share examples of compassion via children’s books like those below, all of which are perfect for teaching compassion and caring.

The Teddy Bear
A child leaves behind his beloved bear, who is found by a homeless man -a very tender story!
Preschool – 1st grade

 A Sick Day for Amos McGee 

(a charming story about a sick zoo keeper visited at home by his animal friends)
Preschool – 1st grade


a friendly cat helps a little bird who wakes up and discovers his family has flown south for winter) Preschool – Kindergarten

Bear Feels Sick 

when bear feels sick, his animal friends rally around to care for him – by Karma Wilson
Preschool – 2nd grade

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen

fictional view of an soup kitchen from the p.o.v. of a little boy
Kindergarten – 3rd grade

 The Three Questions

A short story by Tolstoy is recast into a tale for kids -full of beautiful illustrations
by Jon Muth
1st grade & Up

 How to Heal a Broken Wing 

A boy finds an injured pigeon on a busy sidewalk and nurses it to health with moms help)
Kindergarten – 2nd grade

 Rose Blanche

Set during WWII, a girl learns about concentration camps — a picture book for older kids
5th grade & Up

 Great Joy

A little girl encounters a homeless vendor and wants to help–a great story for teaching compassion
Kindergarten – 2nd grade


The caretaker of an old church finds an injured pigeon and nurses it back to health–so touching!!!

3rd grade & Up

Under the Lemon Moon

A compassionate story about a thief who was  stealing to feed his impoverished family

Kindergarten – 2nd grade

The Birdman

Story of grief turned to compassion, set in India and beautifully illustrated -by Veronika Charles
Kindergarten – 3rd grade

A Chair for My Mother

A Caldecott winner — kids will feel compassion for this struggling family pulling together)
Kindergarten – 3rd grade

The Can Man

A boy collects cans to earnfor a skateboard but has a change of heart when he meets a homeless man

1st grade and Up

Tight Times 

A little boy from a poor family finds a starving kitten by Barbara Hazen
Preschool – 2nd grade

 The Lady in the Box

Siblings see a homeless woman living in a box and decide to help–a touching tale of compassion)2

2nd grade – 5th grade


A story about a child who is ‘different’ — will help kids learn to step into another’s shoes
by Jerry Spinelli
3rd grade – 6th grade

The Hundred Dresses

A classic about kindness, compassion, and standing up for what’s rightby Eleanor Estes