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I’ve got a great list of picture books about kindness and respect for others for you this week. I love when picture books can convey a message, especially when they can do so in a non-preachy and kid-relatable way. In a world increasingly polarized, where cancel culture is an every day occurrence, we can all use a reminder about how to treat people.

Picture Books about Kindness and Respect

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

Rude cakes never say please or thank you, but they do get their just desserts. This book hides a clever twist just under your nose, and kids and adults will find the surprise laugh out loud funny. Thankfully, even rude cakes can eventually learn their lesson. Kids aren’t likely to forget the value of politeness taught by this hilarious book.

Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal illustrated by Jane Dyer

This lovely book illustrates different character qualities in relation to cookies. What could be sweeter? While this book will have your kids wanting to bake cookies with you, it might just help them practice some of these bite-sized lessons as well.

Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller

I love the clever play on words in the title. It cites Socrates as a reference, but Luke 6:31 is more apt: “Do unto others as you would have them unto to you.” When a group of otters moves in near Mr. Rabbit, he’s unsure if they will make good neighbors. Mr. Owl challenges him to treat the otters the way he would like to be treated, which leads to some rather funny ponderings.

Taste Your Words by Bonnie Clark illustrated by Todd Bright

-When Amera is grumpy from her bad day, mom reminds her to taste her words before she says them. But Amera doesn’t listen at first. Whenever she says something unkind, her mouth fills with disgusting flavors like dirt and rotten eggs. Finally, Amera realizes that kind words taste much better and make her and her family much happier too.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson illustrated by E. B. Lewis

When a new girl, Maya, in tattered clothes comes to school, Chloe and her friends scorn her. When Maya doesn’t show up one day, their teacher shows them an object lesson. She compares kindness to the ripples in water when a pebble is dropped in. Each little kindness counts, but Chloe can’t think of anything kind she has done. When Maya never returns to school, Chloe learns a lesson about kindness and regret.

I Walk with Vanessa by Karascoët

The wordless picture book helps kids understand bullying and the power of standing together.

The Buddy Bench by Patty Brozo illustrated by Mike Deas

Have you heard of a buddy bench? Whether you have or haven’t, his book explains the concept through a sweet rhyming story. Lots of kids feel left out at times for different reasons. And often, others would be happy for them to play. Whether or not your kid’s school or playground has a buddy bench, this book is a good reminder to reach out to someone who might feel lonely.

Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton

Gismo, Sprinkles, and Wild like to build things with blocks while Rex likes to wreck whatever they make. The trio must learn to include Rex in their play before they can all get along. This is such a kid-relatable problem, and Clanton’s characters are just delightful. This simple story will be best enjoyed by preschoolers.

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

The book is a great model for how to be a friend. When Taylor is upset, all the animals want to give advice on what to do. Only the rabbit listened instead. And this is exactly what Taylor needed. Kids learn they don’t have to have all the answers to be a good friend. If you’re looking for more books like this one, check out this list of books that help kids deal with big emotions.

So what about you? Tell me about your favorite picture books with a lesson.

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