9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

kindness picture books upper elementary

Being kind is a way of life. Teaching one kindness lesson, or reading one book about being kind is not enough to have a truly kind classroom. That is why I teach about kindness all year long. By kicking off the school year with community building and kindness activities and continuing to weave them throughout the year, students truly digest the message that is being sent.

One simple way to create a classroom climate rich with kindness is to use your read aloud time to share books with kindness themes. There are so many books appropriate for upper elementary that have a strong theme of kindness. By discussing the theme of kindness you can easily tie in kindness read alouds with all of your themes in literature lessons, too!

While there are so many books about being kind, I have found that these nine work perfectly for upper elementary classrooms. You will love these books as each book can be re-purposed for other lessons in your classroom, helping to save you valuable time in the classroom. Teacher win!

Read about each of my favorite kindness books below and scoop up aligning kindness activities for FREE at the bottom of this post.

Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed
written by: Emily Pearson

ordinary mary's extraordinary deeds free activities

Bust out the chart papers and markers and get ready to calculate just how far one random act of kindness can go! I love that this in-depth story includes math concepts, perfect for the upper elementary classroom. Following a reading of this book, challenge students to figure out how long it would take to reach 100 people if they completed a random act of kindness to two people in their lives. Modify the number to meet the needs of your students. Want to go further? Watch this quick heart warming video to bring this story to the real world for your students.

Re-Purpose this Book!  Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed is perfect for identifying character traits and emotions. Revisit this book during character and making connections units.

Enemy Pie
written by: Derek Munson

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

This is one of my classroom favorites to read each year! With its themes of friendship and being kind, it is a great choice to read right at the start of the year. Enemy Pie pairs well with creating "recipes" for kindness and friendship. You can create recipes with students as a class, or send students off in pairs to create recipes to share with the class.

Re-Purpose this Book!  Enemy Pie is perfect for character development lessons in your classroom, specifically discussing how characters change throughout the story.

A Bike Like Sergio's
written by: Maribeth Boelts

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

This book is chock full of important messages for children: kindness, empathy, and integrity. The main character Ruben experiences it all. Students always connect with Ruben and cheer him on even as Sergio brags about his bike. This book lends itself to discussions on being kind, showing empathy, and using integrity. Try this: following a reading of this book, have students create a list of things that Sergio should have said to Ruben about his bike if he chose kindness instead of bragging.

Re-Purpose this Book! Use this book again during story structure lessons. Pairs perfectly with story elements, problem/solution, and cause and effect lessons.

Each Kindness
written by: Jacqueline Woodson

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

No list of kindness read alouds is complete without Each Kindness.  This book tells the story of Chloe, who chooses not to be kind to a new student in class. After the student moves away, Chloe regrets how she treated Maya and is saddened by the fact that she can not make it up to her. The teacher in the book explains kindness as a ripple in a pool of water. Grab a big bowl and mimic the lesson the teacher in the book gives with your own students. It is an amazing visual of the power of kindness that your students will not forget.

Re-Purpose this Book! Use Each Kindness to practice students' story ending writing skills. Since the book ends with Chloe feeling regretful, have students write the next chapter or sequel of the book.

The Big Umbrella
written by: Amy June Bates

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

I love that the red umbrella in this book is a symbol for kindness! This book tells the story of the "big, friendly red umbrella who loves to help others and spread its arms wide." Share this book with students during a figurative language unit and challenge students to create other symbols for kindness.

Re-Purpose this Book!  The Big Umbrella can also be used to kick off any figurative language unit. Using kindness as a focus, students can create similes and metaphors about kindness, too!

I Walk With Vanessa
written by: Kerascoet

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

This is a wordless book with a big impact! Students instantly connect with Vanessa and empathize with her. Students always cheer and clap at the end as they imagine the words that tell the story of the beautiful images they see on each page. This book lends itself perfectly to having students turn and talk throughout the book to tell the story with words. Pair students up following the read aloud and have them write a summary of the story. I also love to have students write letters to Vanessa to cheer her up.

Re-Purpose these Books! Use I Walk With Vanessa to teach students the power of images for lessons on visualizing. Try this! Have students write short kindness stories without any illustrations. When students share their writing with a peer or the class, have the listeners close their eyes and visualize what they are hearing. Students then draw a quick sketch and share how their mental images helped them to understand the writer's words more deeply.

Every Living Thing
written by Cynthia Rylant

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

If you are looking for short stories about kindness, this is it! Each short story has different characters, themes, and life lessons. Though each short story is different, evidence of kindness can be found throughout. This book is perfect to read aloud during those awkward chunks of time you often find yourself with. Create a class chart or bulletin board display of the different acts of kindness and other related themes that students find as you read this book.

Re-Purpose this Book! Use this book to reinforce how to site evidence from texts.

written by Todd and Peggy Snow and 
written by Rana DiOrio

Kindness Free Activities for the classroom

While both of these books have a more simpler text than the others, I love them both. They are perfect to help introduce how to be kind to others. Kindness to Share A to Z is perfect to read and then have students create their own A to Z kindness book of how they can be kind at school, at home, and their community. A similar activity can be done with the book What Does it Mean to be Kind?. I use a flip book to have students share how they can be kind. Grab the flip book for free below.

Re-Purpose these Books! I love using these books when my upper elementary students work with their younger " book buddies." The simpler text is perfect for their younger buddies and the activities mentioned above allow my students to truly promote kindness with the younger students that they work with.

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

When it comes to promoting kindness in your classroom, begin with a book. The conversations that develop among your students after one of these powerful read alouds is what will develop kindness in your classroom. Is there a book you read with your students that promotes kindness? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Looking for more Kindness activities and bulletin board sets?
Click the image below or  HERE

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

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9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

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