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20 Picture Books About Compassion, Because Everyone Could Use A Bit Right Now

Now more than ever, I feel like it's important to stock your children's shelves with picture books about compassion. Obviously teaching your child about compassion is important in any context, but right now they may know of friends and family members struggling financially or with their physical and mental health. And let's not forget parents who may be acting a little bit stressed these days and aren't at their best — we need compassion, too. Kids need to also learn to give compassion to themselves during this time.

Whether it's through learning about struggles of different people they may see every day; taking care of a sick animal; or learning how to recognize, accept, and cope with their own sense of compassion and forgiveness, these picture books will definitely remind young readers and parents alike that we are all in this together, and that it's a wonderful thing to help others in need — even if that means yourself.

Even though we are all different, our humanity is what makes us the same and brings us together, and these picture books remind us of that in a sweet, beautiful, easy-to-understand way. Parents need to remember the lessons from these books when they start to get impatient with their kids, when they're feeling overly exhausted with the world, and when they need to dole out some grace and compassion to their own heart.

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1. ‘Come With Me’ by Holly M. McGhee & Pascal Lemaître

I think kids and parents alike will relate to the little girl in Come with Me. When she hears all of the horrible things going on in the world from the news, she goes with her parents to see how they can help in their own little ways — showing that all it takes is a little act of kindness to go a long way.

2. ‘The Rabbit Listened’ by Cori Doerrfeld

The Rabbit Listened is such an important book to have on hand when teaching your children about compassion, or even dealing with grief. When something sad happens to Taylor, he goes to all of the animals for advice on how to cope. But only the rabbit has the solution to his problem. Sometimes, all people need for you to do is listen.

3. ‘Lovely’ by Jess Hong

Lovely beautifully illustrates the many differences in everyone we meet, but also proves that we are all just "lovely" anyway. Even though we all come from different backgrounds, it's important to treat everyone equally.

4. ‘Tight Times’ by Barbara Shook Hazen & Trina Schart Hyman

Whether your family is the one struggling right now, or if you know of other families who are, Tight Times is an important read to bring to light that sometimes families go through some "tight times," but love and compassion is what keeps us together.

5. ‘Maddi’s Fridge’ by Lois Brandt

In Maddi's Fridge, when Sophia finds out that her friend Maddi's refrigerator is empty, she tries to smuggle food from home to school for her, all while keeping Maddi's secret. When Sophia decides to tell her mom the secret, they both show compassion by going to the grocery store to help Maddi's family.

"Maddi's Fridge is a book that works on a child's awareness level, with no intervening adult judgements to cloud the basic reaction of human compassion. It also tells children exactly what they can do to help," per the Midwest Book Review.

6. ‘Listening with My Heart: A Story of kindness and self-compassion’ by Gabi Garcia & Ying Hui Tan

Self-compassion is also something super important to focus on right now, and even when there isn't a pandemic. Listening with My Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-compassion tells the story of Esperanza, and how when she finds a heart-shaped rock, she "sees it as a reminder to spread kindness and love" all over the world, per the description. But will she be able to give herself this same love and kindness when something doesn't go as planned in her life?

7. ‘Windows’ by Julia Denos & E.B. Goodale

Windows shows just how fun (and important) it is to get to know your neighbors, and how everyone just wants a place to feel safe and to belong. Plus, who doesn't like looking into your neighbor's windows while you're going for an evening walk?

8. ‘How to Heal a Broken Wing’ by Bob Graham

Upon finding an injured bird in the sea of people in too big of a hurry to notice, Will's compassion is the star of How to Heal a Broken Wing when he takes the bird home to try to nurse it back to health.

9. ‘The Teddy Bear’ by David McPhail

What do you do when you lose your best friend? Apparently, you learn a valuable lesson in compassion. The Teddy Bear tells the story of a boy who loses and finds his teddy bear best friend, and learns a little something about compassion along the way.

10. 'A Sick Day for Amos McGee' by Philip Stead & Erin Stead

Amos McGee's best friends with all the animals at the zoo, but when he falls ill and can't go visit them, they decide to return the favor and pay him a visit. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a sweet story about friendship and compassion for a sick friend.

11. 'Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse' by Marcy Campbell & Corinna Luyken

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse is essentially a story about cutting people some slack. It shows that sometimes being kind is much better than having judgement and that "friendship is the best gift" someone can give to another person, according to the description.

12. 'The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade' by Justin Roberts & Christian Robinson

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade shows that no matter how small you are, you can make a very big difference in someone's life when you're kind and stand up for what's right.

13. ‘Last Stop on Market Street’ by Matt De la Peña & Christian Robinson

In Last Stop on Market Street, CJ gets caught up in the haves and have nots between everyone — like most kids. But his story shows that no matter your circumstances, you can always help others in need — and there's always someone who needs help.

14. 'Uniquely Wired: A Story About Autism and Its Gifts'

By reading Uniquely Wired: A Story About Autism and Its Gifts, children can learn a little bit more about their friends at school who are "uniquely wired" and may be a little bit different than them. The first step is understanding others that are not like us.

15. 'Those Shoes' by Maribeth Boelts & Noah Z. Jones

We've all been there, wanting to fit in by having the latest style or shoes. Those Shoes chronicles the story of Jeremy and how he wants the latest shoes like the other kids in his school. When his grandmother tells him they cannot afford them and he gets a pair that's too small from a thrift store, he is shown that he should be thankful for what he has — including being able to help another friend in need.

16. ‘The Hundred Dresses’ by Eleanor Estes, Louis Slobodkin, & Helena Estes

"Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since," according to the description. And for good reason. Wanda is bullied at school for her lies about having 100 dresses, and the class feels terrible when she is pulled out of the school. One girl, Maddie, decides that she'll never not do the right thing again and promises to stand up to bullies and show other kids compassion.

17. ‘A Chair for My Mother’ by Vera B. Williams

A Chair for My Mother is a story about a family who has lost everything, and how that family saved "their coins" to buy a comfortable chair for everyone to enjoy after their home was destroyed by a fire. It can help kids realize they're not alone during tough times, or even to be mindful of others because we never know what they're going through.

18. ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree is a classic that shows how you shouldn't take advantage of one's kindness for too long, and to make sure you always show others appreciation for their kindness and thoughtfulness.

19. ‘How Full Is Your Bucket?’ by Tom Rath, Maurie J. Manning, & Mary Reckmeyer

Based on the adult-version of this book, How Full Is Your Bucket shows kids how their interactions with people can either fill their buckets or empty them, and how important it is to have a "full bucket" yourself. "Before the day is over, you’ll see how Felix learns to be a great bucket filler, and in the process, discovers that filling someone else’s bucket also fills his own," the description notes.

20. ‘Tip & Lulu: A Tale of Two Friends’ by Lauren Isabelle Pierre

Tip & Lulu: A Tale of Two Friends tells the story of a not-so-ordinary friendship between a leopard and meerkat, and teaches compassion, friendship, and acceptance — and how important it is to be there for others.