Children are naturally empathetic and show amazing capacity for wanting to change the world. They also are kids, and sometimes forget that their actions can have consequences. The following books are excellent ways to show kids how they can make a difference, whether that’s kindness on the playground, showing compassion toward those who need our help or passing on a smile. Click through the gallery to get inspired to change the world, one story at a time!
Thank You, Bees
Helping our pollinator friends is a hot topic lately, and this just-released book by author and illustrator Toni Yuly offers a gentle reminder of gratitude for the preschool crowd: wool comes from sheep, honey comes from bees, clouds bring rain. With sparing text and paper-collage art, this is a perfect little book about appreciating life’s simple gifts.
Buy your copy here.
The Hand Me Down Toy Shop
Warning: you may find yourself crying a little while reading Susan Murray’s new book, but don’t let that stop you from buying a copy right now. This incredibly moving book about a little seven-year-old living in poverty and her relationship with the village schoolteacher is really the story of a small town struggling with poverty and wealth. It’s a story of generosity and it is sure to teach your children the beauty of empathy, giving and kindness. Based in the 1950s, just after World War II, this U.K. author’s book is now widely available in the U.S.
Ages: 4 and up
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Children in Our World: Refugees and Migrants
What does it mean to be a refugee or a migrant? These words are in the news a lot but kids have lots of questions about what it means. For starters, why would someone want to leave their home? Empower your kids (and yourself) with the knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a refugee or a migrant with this new release from Barron’s Children in Our World series. It answers big questions, offers reassurances and lets kids know what they can do to help. Written by Ceri Roberts and illustrated by Hunane Kai.
Get your copy here.
Children in Our World: Poverty and Hunger
One of the two new releases in Barron’s Children in Our World Series—books for kids, aimed at tackling big, global and social issues—Poverty and Hunger helps answer the questions: What is poverty? What is hunger, and how does it affect people all around the world? Educate your kids without scaring them on the topic and give them the power to learn how to help. Written by Louise Spilsbury, illustrated by Hunane Kai.
Order it now.
photo courtesy Barrons
Malala's Magic Pencil
As if Malala Yousafzai isn’t accomplished enough, the 20-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner is about to release her first children’s picture book! This is the story of Malala’s Magic Pencil, based on Malala’s own childhood wish to have a magic pencil that would “make everyone happy,” and could “erase the smell of garbage from her city.” As she grew older she learned that she would need more than a magic pencil to initiate change, and this book explores every person's power to change the world through strength of character and determination. Illustrated by
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Written by Cece Meng and illustrated by Ellen Shi, this picture book is full of laughs but packs a major message. Mama wishes on a shooting star for world peace, but she sneezes and instead ends up wishing for world pizza! And world pizza comes, to the valleys and the desserts, smallest towns and to the homeless, pizza rains from the sky. Pizza changes the heart of the bully, it is the great equalizer of cultures and palates, everyone agrees, pizza is the best! Does mom get her wish after all? A very relatable and unique way to get kids to think globally.
Buy it here.
I Am Gandhi
The latest release in Brad Meltzer's Ordinary People Who Change the World series, and I Am Gandhi, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos, takes us back to when Gandhi was a child. "Today, people call me strong...I wasn't always that way." Shy, introverted, and not even a great student, his sense of justice was strong. Eventually, he learned to change the world, in spite of all the obstacles in his way. A beautiful story and a reminder of compassion in the season of giving.
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Come with Me
How do you talk to your kids about tragedy, especially one as big and scary as a terrorist attack? Inspired by her own experience after 9/11, New York-based author Holly McGhee felt the fear and confusion of the nation all around her. Her friend, illustrator Pascal Lemaitre, an artist living in Brussels, became her confidant. And then in 2016 Brussels, where Pascal lives, had a terrorist attack. Together, these two artists joined forces to help kids in the aftermath of a big tragedy. How? “Come with me,” says a papa to his little girl, and they explore the neighborhood and meet people from different walks of life. “Come with me,” says a mama to her daughter as they head to the grocery store where they meet people of different cultures. “Come with me,” says a little girl to the boy across the hall, as they head out to walk the dog together. A story of bravery, kindness, and compassion—the true answer to terrorism.
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Pass It On
"When you see something terrific...smile a smile and pass it on." This precious picture book by Sophy Henn has a clear message: happiness is contagious. From giggles to hugs to an awesome new discovery, the illustrations are as cheerful as the words. A perfect read and reminder that a kid can change the world with one little smile.
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Will you read any of these books to your kiddos? What inspires you?
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