From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Kids About Kindness

Teach your child how to show they care in meaningful ways.

Jan 26, 2022



From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Kids About Kindness

Jan 26, 2022

There are infinite ways to show and spread kindness, which makes it something you can easily teach your child. The old adage of doing unto others as you’d like done to you is a good place to start. There are small acts of kindness, like smiling and saying “please” and “thank you” — as well as grander gestures, like buying someone’s groceries or taking care of a sick friend. 

Knowing when to show kindness requires learning social cues. Ask your child to observe and interpret non-verbal expressions of emotion (joy and sadness on someone’s face, for example). When your child is ready to show kindness, they can start by paying someone a compliment, lending a helping hand, or doing a chore around the house without being asked! 

Learning about kindness also means processing negative emotions. Start by being a model of positivity and self-respect for your child. Compassion goes both ways, and it is as important to show ourselves care as it is others. 

Your child is likely to mimic what goes on in the household, so assess any teasing that occurs between siblings and whether it is demeaning. If you witness your child saying hurtful things, address why those comments are destructive. Explain to your child what bullying is, then provide strategies for what to do if they ever feel bullied.

When you need relatable examples of kindness to show your child, you can turn to reading.

For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of tips, articles, and books that make starting a conversation with your child about kindness easier. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called the Scholastic Bookshelf, created for Instagram to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

Just like reading and writing, practicing kindness and empathy are skills that must be taught. The following Scholastic resources will show your child how kindness is infectious and can brighten someone’s day.

For more quick tips and book recommendations, sign up for our Scholastic Parents newsletter!

A Read-Aloud Book About Kindness

Animals show kids how to be kind in best-selling illustrator Henry Cole’s Try a Little Kindness. This delightful picture book shows a different way to do good on each page, like using polite manners or sharing. A few naughty animals sneak in as well to show their less-than-great behavior, which offers teachable moments. 

Beginner Books About Kindness

What is the right thing to do? Who is the right one to do it for? When is the right time to do it? These are the self-reflections at the heart of The Three Questions, a beautifully illustrated adaptation of a story by Leo Tolstoy. 

Award-winning artist Jon J. Muth brings his watercolors to this fable, featuring Nikolai, a boy whose goal is to be the very best person he can be. When Nikolai approaches his animal friends for their advice, he finds himself caught in a chain of events that will test the true limitlessness of his kindness. It’s a heartwarming tale that will show your child what it means to care for others.

Kids excited to share their kindness will get a kick out of the Kindness Is My Jam stationery kit. An activity journal for random acts of kindness is the centerpiece of this set, which includes postcards and stickers your child can share to spread the love. 

Articles About Kindness for Independent Readers

Older readers who’ve mastered their manners still have a responsibility to help others in need. In “He Solves Conflicts With Kindness” from Junior Scholastic magazine, readers meet Rahmier Williams, a Chicago teen committed to keeping the peace at his high school through its Peace Warriors organization. The Peace Warriors are a group of student activists who follow the same principles of nonviolence that guided Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi.

With violence having touched his life in many ways — his father was fatally shot three months before he was born — Williams finds himself drawn to the group’s M.O.: Violence does not need to be met with more violence.  

“I had never heard that before,” Williams says. 

Along with his Peace Warrior peers, Williams learns to mediate and resolve conflict through humor and community. It’s a real-life lesson in character-building, empathy, resilience, and the connections that are born from compassion.

Empathy and compassion are also at the core of “The Good Deed,” a short story in Scholastic Storyworks magazine about Heather, who’s on a mission to earn her Girl Scout badge for completing a good deed over the summer. After Heather is assigned to read aloud to blind Miss Benson, Heather’s books-for-a-badge dream is interrupted by curious Risa, who lives next door. Heather worries Risa will usurp her reader role, but Risa’s interests actually lie in improving her own reading skills. 

Heather and Risa’s special bond will teach kids about the importance of reading, as well as being open to the needs of others. 

Be sure to visit the Scholastic Bookshelf for more resources on kindness. If you’re planning to talk with your child about other complex topics and are looking for tips or book recommendations, visit our Tough Topics hub. You’ll find a wealth of advice from Scholastic editors to help you navigate challenging conversations thoughtfully. Just a few topics include:

Shop books below about spreading kindness! You can shop all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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Kindness and Compassion