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10 Books That Teach Kids To Be Mindful Of Themselves And Others

Jun 23, 2017

Kids' books these days are a dime a dozen, and while books that are entertaining are always fun, they don’t necessarily impart any wisdom. However, these titles teach a good lesson that will help your child learn about self acceptance, self confidence, being generous, finding the silver lining and overcoming fears. And we’ve included a few fun activities you can do with your kids after reading these great books.

Make sure these 10 titles are on your child’s bookshelf.


Shark Lady (Jess Keating, Illustrated By Marta Alvarez Miguens)

Do you know the name Eugenie Clark? Otherwise known as “the shark lady,” this scientist revolutionized how we study and learn about sharks, and this is a fun illustrated version of her life. Not only does Shark Lady teach little ones about following their dreams despite there being obstacles, but it also schools children on respecting nature.

Book cover: Shark Lady

Spend time together doing this: After reading this book, your kids will undoubtedly have an insatiable thirst for everything sharks. So make a fun shark hat out of some construction paper or cardstock — it can be the face of a shark or just a frightening fin. (Wait, is it frightening?)


This Is How We Do It (Matt Lamothe)

We all want our kids to have compassion (wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all practiced more compassion?). In this great read, kids get to explore a day in the life of children from seven different countries: Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda and Russia. Despite the fact that we may play different games or eat different types of food, in the end, we’re all people just trying to live our best lives. And This Is How We Do It illustrates that.

Book cover: This Is How We Do It

Spend time together doing this: Make a globe out of papier mâché! Blow up a balloon and then cover it in strips of newspaper that you’ve dipped in a glue and water mixture. When it’s dry, pop the balloon and you’ll have a perfect sphere to paint and decorate!


Have You Filled A Bucket Today? (Carol McCloud, Illustrated By David Messing)

The 10th anniversary edition of Have You Filled A Bucket Today? was released last year, and it’s not surprising why — this continuously popular title encourages children to “fill their bucket” with acts of kindness. But what happens when you dip into that bucket with negativity? Yep, the bucket gets depleted. Instilling thoughtfulness and encouraging benevolence is at the core of this feel-good title.

Book cover: Have You Filled A Bucket Today

Spend time together doing this: Have each member of the family make a bucket from a plastic cup and pipe cleaners for handles. Display them in a common area of the home (such as the kitchen) and, as each person does something kind, they can write it down and add it to their bucket. At the end of the week, read about each person’s kindness accomplishments.


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The Darkest Dark (Chris Hadfield)

You might be surprised to know this, but Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was afraid of the dark. How did this space explorer overcome his fear? Hadfield, in his down-to-earth, inspiring way, explains in The Darkest Dark how he got over his insecurities and today loves the dark more than anything else!

Book cover: The Darkest Dark

Spend time together doing this: Discuss your child's fears and ways in which you can conquer them. Is your child afraid of monsters? Maybe they need “monster spray” (which is really coloured water in a spray bottle). Scared of bad dreams? Make a paper plate dreamcatcher to hang in their window. Help them work through their fears, just like Chris did!


Barnaby Never Forgets (Pierre Collet-Derby, Illustrated By Pierre Collet-Derby)

Barnaby always remembers ice cream night and to feed the grasshoppers, but then, something slips his mind. He can’t remember! And the thing he forgot is right under his nose! Barnaby Never Forgets is a funny little tale that reminds us that nobody is perfect, even super-memory Barnaby! We all have things we’re good at and things we’re not so good at — no one is perfect and no one is the same. And that’s okay.

Book cover: Barnaby Never Forgets

Spend time together doing this: Gather some old magazines and cut out the eyes, noses and mouths of different people in the articles and ads. Then, create your “characters” from the odds and ends by “building” new faces. In the end you’ll see that no two people are the same!


There, There (Tim Beiser, Illustrated By Bill Slavin)

Sometimes things are terrible, but to Rabbit, everything is terrible. That is, until his friend Bear shows him a valuable lesson about appreciating things using just an earthworm. And it turns his mood around. Use There, There to teach your children that, while things may not always go your way, you still have much to be grateful for.

Book cover: There, There

Spend time together doing this: Hang a string or piece of yarn and, each day, have your child write something they are thankful for on a piece of paper (it could be paper leaves, butterflies, whatever you choose). Clip them onto the string and, at the end of the month, sit and read aloud all the things you appreciate. Your children just may be surprised to see all their blessings!


The Giving Tree (Shel Silverstein)

"Once there was a tree… and she loved a little boy." This line has been read to kids for more than five decades! While The Giving Tree may not be a new title, it should be a staple in every child’s library. This classic story by Shel Silverstein tells the heartwarming story of a tree who loved a little boy, giving and giving of herself until she could give no longer. It imparts lessons of love and the capacity of love.

Book cover: The Giving Tree

Spend time together doing this: Draw a brown tree trunk on a big piece of paper and have your child (or children) make green handprints for the leaves. Then write on each leaf things that they could “give” to others (for example: hugs, smiles, compliments and more).


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The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share (Mike Reiss)

Almost every parent has endured the sharing battle with littles ones, and The Boy Who Wouldn't Share is an adorable book (with super cool illustrations) that explains what happened to the little boy who wouldn’t share. In the end, it seems it’s better to share than to not!

Book cover: The Boy Who Wouldn't Share

Spend time together doing this: Do a kitchen activity together — like baking cookies — and have your child save a few for themselves and then package up the rest to hand out to neighbours, teachers or their friends. When they see how pleased everyone is with their shared treats, hopefully they’ll understand the positive reaction to sharing.


Beautiful Oops (Barney Saltzberg)

Beautiful Oops is such a beautiful interactive book. Ideally suited for younger children (but just as much fun for preschoolers), the lesson here is: “When you think you have made a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful!” Whether it’s a splotch of paint or a crumpled piece of paper, there’s beauty in everything around us.

Book cover: Beautiful Oops

Spend time together doing this: Do some messy art (like splatter paint, sloppy paint-stamping or even just scribbles on a page), and then turn it sideways or upside-down to see what it could be. Maybe that ink spot looks like a turtle on the beach, or that drip of paint is beautiful rain falling. Or randomly tear up pieces of paper and see what shapes they are to turn them into something else.


Drum Dream Girl (Margarita Engle, Illustrated By Rafael Lopez) 

Give your girl some girl power — and boys can build confidence with this read too. Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers, this book tells the tale of a girl who loved drumming, but had to keep it a secret in a world where only boys could drum. Drum Dream Girl will inspire and encourage kids to follow their dreams, no matter what.

Book cover: Drum Dream Girl

Spend time together doing this: Get a paperboard and write across the top “I AM.” Then add different words (like “strong,” “funny,” “smart”), images and anything else you can think of that will empower your child and build up their confidence.

Article Author Jennifer Cox
Jennifer Cox

Jennifer Cox is the mama behind the Whoa Mama! YouTube channel, where she shares her craft and DIY projects at home. She is also the mama of a three-year old. She is a self-proclaimed addict of kid’s books (she reviews them for MyMList.com in their Little Readers section), and she admits to spending way too much time after her son goes to bed scouring Pinterest. She's also written for Today's Parent, Parents Canada, SweetMama, Babygaga, Today's Bride and more.

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