Kids in schools throughout Pittsburgh wear popular T-shirts proclaiming their intent to #bethekindkid. Empathy and caring are part of character development promoted in schools. But even before little kids move up to kindergarten, they can learn how to show kindness and compassion to others.
One way to develop those qualities in your little one is to begin with this collection of storybooks that centers on sharing and dealing with conflict. Following the example of other kids – and kid-like animal characters – will help youngsters understand what it means to be a good friend.
Here are nine books to get you started:
“Be Kind,” by Pat Zietlow Miller. When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate thinks about how to make her feel better and what it means to be kind. From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this thoughtful story explores what a child can do to be kind, and how all acts, big or small, can make a difference.
“Best Best Friends,” by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Mary and Clare do everything together at preschool, but when it comes time to celebrate Mary’s birthday, their friendship is tested.
“Big Friends,” by Linda Sarah. Best friends Etho and Birt love going up Sudden Hill where they sit in cardboard boxes and imagine they are kings, astronauts or pirates. When Shu asks to join them, their “two-by-two rhythm” is disturbed.
“Blocks,” by Irene Dickson. Ruby has red blocks. Benji has blue blocks. But what happens when they won’t share? Their struggle with emotions and actions takes a comic turn when another boy shows up with green blocks.
“The Day Leo Said I Hate You,” by Robie H. Harris. Leo grows upset when he has been hearing the word “no” all day long. He lets three angry words slip out that he wishes he could take back.
“If You Plant a Seed,” by Kadir Nelson. While planting seeds in their garden, a brown rabbit and tiny mouse learn the value of kindness through the story’s gentle humor.
“Should I Share My Ice Cream?” by Mo Willems. In this Elephant and Piggie book, Gerald must decide if he should share his ice cream with his best friend before it’s too late. As he struggles with the pros and cons of his decision, observant kids will giggle at how his ice cream is melting and dripping into a puddle.
“Someone New,” by Anne Sibley O’Brien. When Jesse, Jason and Emma are confronted with new classmates from different ethnic backgrounds, they overcome their initial reactions to understand, accept and welcome Maria, Jin, and Fatima.
“Too Tall Houses,” by Gianna Marino. Owl and Rabbit are good friends and neighbors atop a hill. But when Rabbit’s garden blocks Owl’s view of the forest, Owl builds a higher house, which prevents sunlight from reaching Rabbit’s plants.