10 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

kindness picture books upper elementary

You do not need to celebrate a Kindness Challenge or Random Acts of Kindness Week to celebrate kindness in your classroom. These read alouds will effortlessly make kindness a classroom focus all year long.

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 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.

Kindness is a Kite String
written by Michelle Schaub

With easy-to-read and rhythmic pages, this book will ignite the kindness bug in anyone who reads it! What I especially love about this book is that the illustrations truly bring the theme of one: small kind act can make a difference to light. Students of all ages will love connecting with the characters who do different acts of kindness throughout the book.

Re-Purpose this Book! Use this book to learn about figurative language, especially similes and metaphors. The author's note at the end of the book explains how she used similes and metaphors to describe kindness. Challenge your students to come up with more similes and metaphors to describe kindness. Have students write their similes and metaphors and then illustrate them, too! This activity makes a great bulletin board display.

written by Todd and Peggy Snow and
written by Rana DiOrio

written by Candance Christiansen

Kindness Free Activities for the classroom

What Does it Mean to Be Kind? and Kindness A-Z

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.

The Mitten Tree

While I love this book, it does have a winter theme, making it perfect for the long season of winter. This book follows the story of kind deeds exchanged by one special community member and the kids who live there.

Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light written by Apryl Stott

The book, Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light, written by Apryl Scott is one of my new favorite kindness books. This sweet, sweet story follows Bear, a large animal that the other animals say is mean just because he is big. As Bear and his friend Coco travel around the woods to spread some kindness they discover that kindness is a gift that only comes from the heart. This will be your new favorite! Grab the free printable to use with this book at the bottom of the post.

Re-Purpose this book: This book is perfect to discuss themes and life lessons. The characters in this book also change from the beginning to the end, making it a great read aloud for any character focused lesson.

Will You Be the I in KIND? written by Julia Cook

The talented Julia Cook has done it again! This easy-to-relate-to, kid-friendly book helps kids to see how easy it really is to spread kindness. Your students will see themselves in each page of this book as they learn simple ways that they can make a big difference! This book lends itself to important classroom discussions about being kind and doing random acts of kindness for those in need. Grab the free printable to use with this book at the bottom of the post.

Re-Purpose this book: This book is perfect to accompany different social-emotional lessons such as asking for help when you need it, every person can make a difference, and mindset shifts.

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 and cursive alphabet?
Click the image below or  HERE

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

You might also be interested in these 

Kindness Writing Activities and Bulletin Board Display!

You will love displaying this Cursive Kindness Alphabet set in your classroom!

And these Classroom Expectations to promote kindness, too!

Love these ideas? Pin for later!

9 Books to Promote Kindness in Upper Elementary Classrooms

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  13. This curated list of 10 books serves as a powerful resource for upper elementary classrooms, effectively instilling the values of kindness, empathy, and compassion among students through captivating stories and relatable characters. With diverse narratives that highlight the significance of treating others with care, these books offer educators a valuable tool to foster a positive and inclusive classroom environment.

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  15. "Enemy Pie" by Derek Munson is a delightful children's book that teaches a valuable lesson about friendship and empathy. The story revolves around a young boy who learns to overcome his preconceived notions about an 'enemy' through an unexpected friendship. Munson's engaging storytelling and vivid illustrations make this book a heartwarming and relatable read for kids. It beautifully conveys the message that understanding and kindness can transform even the fiercest of foes into friends. "Enemy Pie" is a must-read for parents and teachers looking to impart important life lessons to young readers in a fun and memorable way.
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  16. This list of books is a valuable resource for upper elementary classrooms, capturing the essence of kindness and offering valuable lessons for young minds. The books are incorporated into the curriculum, resulting in remarkable impact on students. The relatable and thought-provoking stories spark meaningful discussions about empathy, inclusion, and respect, nurturing a kinder classroom environment. The books are pure gold for promoting kindness in upper elementary classrooms, as they are engaging, relatable, and inspire kids to think about their actions and their impact on others. The books have become staples in the classroom, sparked a positive change in behavior and interactions, making them a must-have collection for teachers aiming to foster compassion and empathy in their students.
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