Empathy and compassion are important characteristics for young children to learn. While they will learn through watching their parents, siblings, and other humans interact, they can also learn these traits through reading children’s books about caring for others. When children read books about people helping other people, animals, and the earth, it shows them how they should always care about others and the environment.

Children’s Books About Caring for Others

Here are some great children’s books about caring for others:

The Little Engine that Could

Most well-known as a book about determination, it is also a story of compassion. The little blue engine decides to pull a train full of stranded food and toys up a mountain after the other engines refused to help.

Little Critter: I Am Sharing

This is a realistic and funny look at the struggle children go through when they have to share their toys. It depicts an older brother sharing with his little sister.

Elliot and the Osprey Nest

Elliot is an animal-loving kid who finds an osprey nest in the wild. He spends a great deal of time watching them, until one day he has to help them. Through his caring, he creates an unlikely friendship.

Do Unto Otters

An Otter family moves in next to Mr. Rabbit, but he doesn’t know anything about Otters! So he wonders if they will get along. He remembers the Golden Rule “treat others the same way you’d like them to treat you” and a hilarious story ensues.

Clifford’s Good Deeds

Kids love Clifford the big red dog! This story follows a girl and her very large dog as they make their way around town helping people as needed.

A Chair for My Mother

Rosa’s family home is destroyed in a fire. So, she, her mother, and grandmother decide to start saving money to buy a comfortable chair they can share.

The Can Man

A young man is saving money to buy a new skateboard when he meets a homeless man and has a change of heart.


Angelo works as an architectural restorer in Italy where there are a lot of pigeons. He likes to keep them away until one day he finds an injured one and decides to nurse it back to health.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Sally sees everything – from the janitor’s 27 keys to the playground bullying. One day she decided she had enough of the meanness and wanted to make herself heard! When she decides to take a stand against bullies, she finds that just one small girl really can change the world.

Enemy Pie

After spending a day playing with his enemy, the child decides friendship is better than fighting.

The Tree Lady

This is based on a true story about environmental activist, Kate Sessions, who helped turn San Diego from a dry desert into a lush city.

The Three Questions

Nikolai helps a panda and her cub while learning the answers to life’s top three questions:

  • What is the best time to do things?
  • Who is the most important one?
  • What is the right thing to do?
Pay It Forward

Trevor McKinney, a 12-year-old, accepts a challenge from his teacher to earn extra credit by creating a plan to change the world. His idea is simple – “pay it forward”.

More Great Children’s Books

For more great children’s books and tips for raising active, compassionate kids, visit Elliot’s Adventure Blog.

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