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As we work with students, kindness must be the kernel of our classroom environments. Browse our list of read-aloud books to keep caring at the core of your community. As educators, we work to foster accepting and inclusive communities where differences are honored and seen as important. Inevitably,

Feb 19, 2018

As we work with students, kindness must be the kernel of our classroom environments. Browse our list of read-aloud books to keep caring at the core of your community.


As educators, we work to foster accepting and inclusive communities where differences are honored and seen as important. Inevitably, students will say and do things that lead to hurt feelings or unintended consequences, but we do our best to prevent those cringeworthy instances. Below is a list of diverse stories to read aloud that will remind our learners to keep kindness at the forefront of their actions. Bonus: They hit many Arizona College and Career Ready Literacy Standards.

One Green Apple (2007)

Author: Eve Bunting

Illustrator: Ted Lewin

This story is written from the perspective of a young girl, Farah, who is new to her community and the English language. The tale provides students with the opportunity to develop their perspective-taking skills and empathy for peers who come from cultures and experiences different than their own. Farah’s class visits an apple farm and learns how apple cider is made. Bunting's story affords opportunities and entry points to discuss evidence of kindness, while also allowing readers to  compare and contrast how students treat Farah. Lewin's images allow for deeper inferences and conversations about the pain caused by bias and judgment.

Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed (2017)

Author: Emily Pearson

Illustrator: Fumi Kosaka

Although the main character, Mary, thinks she’s ordinary, her one small act of kindness at the beginning of the story starts a chain reaction. The plot is about paying it forward through acts of kindness. The book provides young children with a concrete understanding of how one small act of kindness can lead to unintended happiness in so many others. The story lends itself well to looking at cause and effect relationships as Mary’s kindness ends up right back where it started — with an act of kindness bestowed upon her.

Those Shoes (2009)

Author: Maribeth Boelts

Illustrator: Noah Z. Jones

Jeremy is a boy learning from his grandma the difference between wants and needs. This story of kindness also includes nvarchar(max) that can deepen students’ ability to master many of the state’s primary literacy standards. Near the end, Jeremy compares his needs and wants to those of a friend at school who is less fortunate. He discovers that the act of giving provides him a feeling that is vastly different than his desire for a new pair of shoes, which he doesn't really need.

The Lion's Share: A Tale of Having Your Cake and Eating it Too (2009)

Author & Illustrator: Mathew McElligot

This story focuses on sharing, manners, and kindness. Also, it integrates the conceptual ideas of multiplication and division throughout the nvarchar(max). The main character, an ant, is invited to attend the King Lion's dinner along with several other animals. When the ant patiently waits for her serving of cake, both she and the king are left without dessert. Greed and competition are showcased by the animals’ hearts and minds, revealing a missed opportunity to show kindness. The tale has many entry points for instruction and can be used across content areas.

My Two Blankets (2015)

Author: Irena Kobald

Illustrator: Freya Blackwood

Friendship is a theme of this multicultural story. A girl, Cartwheel, moves from a different country to the United States with her aunt. At the beginning of the story, she feels uncomfortable, as though she doesn’t belong. She often wraps herself in a blanket when she is sad or missing home. The blanket is filled with memories and experiences that provide her comfort from her past. When she meets a friend at the park, she begins to develop the language to communicate through their interactions and growing friendship. Before long, she creates a new blanket wrapped with items and experiences that give her comfort in her new community. The kindness of her new friend supported her to create a space where she felt comfortable and a sense of belonging. These blankets can be inferred as literal, concrete objects, or for older students, the feelings of her heart, as the journey to live in her new home evolves.

There are plenty of books that focus on kindness. If you have a favorite you would add to this list, please leave it in the comments below!

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Arizona K12 Center

@azk12 Oct 21, 2020 19:06:20

Before fall break, James King wrote down a few highlights from the quarter. He then asked other teachers to share.… https://t.co/28DNtBp3Jp

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