Kindness has always been important.

Most people want to be kind. Most parents hope their children will be kind.

But kindness seems to be getting some extra attention these days, spurred on by current world events.

As my latest book, Be Kind – released this week from Roaring Brook Press – came into being, I heard from more and more school leaders who were focusing on kindness as a core value and taking the time to talk with their students and staff about what kindness is and ways to demonstrate it. (To see some kids talking about kindness, watch the book trailer at the end of this post.)

I’ve always been the sort of person who thinks books can help you do anything better. In fact, the summer between my seventh- and eighth-grade years, I taught myself to do a cartwheel solely by following the pictures in a library book. So I hope Be Kind helps schools reach their goals.

I’ve also always been the sort of person who thinks more books are better than one book, so here are four other books about kindness that I adore:

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis

This Coretta Scott King Honor book looks at kindness from the perspective of a girl who could have been kind, chose not to in small ways and regretted it once it was too late. It includes a beautiful example of how kind deeds can ripple on and on, making a bigger difference than expected. For older students, I’d recommend The 100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes, which has similar themes.

Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness by Donna Janell Bowman and Daniel Minter

This nonfiction book tells how Doc Key, a former slave and self-taught veterinarian, promoted kindness to animals when that was not the norm. Doc Key used kindness to train his horse, Jim, to read, write and do math. He and Jim performed for people around the country and encouraged them to sign a pledge to be kind to animals. Today, Doc Key is known as an early proponent of animal rights.

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas

This story looks at mitzvahs – or good deeds – and how one girl performs the perfect one for her generous neighbor who takes care of everyone else, but doesn’t attend to her own needs. This story shines because the girl has to solve a problem when her original mitzvah doesn’t turn out as she’d hoped.

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham

This is a beautiful story about a child who notices an injured bird that’s overlooked by everyone else around him. He cares for the bird and releases it once it’s well in a way that reminds us we are all responsible for taking care of each other.

I’ve also created a Pinterest board with other picture books focused on kindness. I hope it – and the book trailer below – helps schools everywhere learn more about kindness and how to spread it.

Now, here’s what some grade-schoolers had to say about being kind in the Be Kind book trailer:

Pat Zietlow Miller wanted to be a writer ever since her seventh-grade teacher read one of Pat’s papers out loud and said: “This is the first time anything a student has written has given me chills.” (Thanks, Mrs. Mueller! You rock!) Pat started out as a newspaper reporter. Then, she wrote for an insurance company. Now, she writes insurance information by day and children’s books by night. Her first book, Sophie’s Squash, won the Golden Kite Award, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer honor and a Charlotte Zolotow honor. Wherever You Go and The Quickest Kid in Clarksville won Crystal Kite awards. Find Pat at or at @PatZMiller.