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  • Writer's pictureLiz Morrison, LCSW

Teaching Kids to Be Inclusive and Kind

Teaching your kids to be kind

Here we are at the end of August. Summer vacation is winding down and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. For some, this is a time of excitement. Getting to see old friends, starting a new adventure in an older grade, and getting ready to take new classes. But for some children, the idea of returning to school is filled with anxiety and dread due to social pressures placed on them. Figuring out who to sit with at lunch, play with at recess, work on a project with in class, or have a play date with can make a child want to distance themselves from the place they are required to go every day. This is why it is important for children to learn how to be inclusive and kind to others.

"Below is a list of picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, funny and factual, that can be read with children of all ages. Each of these stories convey unique messages of kindness, inclusiveness, equality, and the power of voice to make a change." Thank you to Laura Bercuson Davis from Happily Ever Elephants , a blog that shares wonderful information about children's literature, for compiling this list and using this important topic to help children learn to be inclusive:

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

Were All Wonders, by R.J. Palacio: Help kids see the beauty and wonder in every person, despite how different they may appear on the outside.

Worm Loves Worm, by J.J. Austrian, and illustrated by Mike Curato: Teach children from the outset that love is love is love, no matter who you are or how you identify yourself.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

One, by Kathryn Otoshi: Share the message that children are never too young to use their voices for good.

Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis: Use this book to demonstrate how every act of kindness- even the seemingly tiny ones- has a ripple effect that can change the world.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

My Two Blankets, by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood: Encourage children to share a smile– and extend a hand– to refugees in their neighborhoods, enabling them to break invisible boundaries and celebrate multicultural friendships.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

A Family Is a Family Is a Family, by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Qin Leng: Show little ones that every family is unique and beautiful, and there is no such thing as right or wrong when surrounded by love.

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!, by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin: Teach kids to be true to who they are and never lose their voices, despite the naysayers who may try to silence them.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

Be a Friend, by Salina Yoon: Celebrate the beauty of accepting others for who they are at heart, especially the ways in which they are unique and special.

A is for Activist, by Innosanto Agara: Allow the ABCs to teach your kids how to advocate for change.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

Strictly No Elephants, by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo: Convey the importance of inclusiveness with a simple story line even tiny readers can grasp.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton: Inspire child activists with the true story of a little girl who fought for freedom despite her young age.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, by Mem Fox and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury: Read this with infants and toddlers so they learn from the outset that despite perceived cultural differences, we are all one and the same.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson: Help children understand gratitude and teach them that we can– and should –always be helpers.

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger: Inspire a new generation of freedom fighters with the stories of women who used their voices to better their country and their world.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

Spork, by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault: Convey the message to little ones that we all have a place at the table, no matter how different we believe we look.

Freedom Summer, by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue: Use this story as a springboard to discuss segregation and the unfortunate reality that it takes more than new laws to eclipse hate.

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson: Teach children about the underground railroad with this true story of a young slave who mailed himself to freedom.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

Hello, My Name Is Octicorn, by Kevin Miller and Justin Lowe: Teach your kids how to embrace their unique attributes- and to recognize that underneath the surface, we all long for the same thing- connection.

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis, by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E.B. White: Provide kids with background on the Civil Rights movement and the childhood story of one of its most important heroes.

Grandfather Gandhi and Be the Change, by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk: Use these two companion books, sharing the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi, to teach children how to channel anger into light and be a change for good.

Reading Suggestions by Liz Morrison Theraphy

This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World, by Matt Lamothe: Take your kids to countries across the globe to share the ins and outs of seven kids’ lives and the unifying passion we all share for family, love and education.


  • Love, by Matt de la Pena and Loren Long

  • Be Kind, by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jen Hill

  • Come With Me, by Holly McGhee and Pascal Lemaitre

  • Why Am I Me?, by Paige Britt, Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

If your child is feeling left out or is having trouble fitting in, please visit our other blog, I Wish That I Could Be Like the Cool Kids: 5 Ways to Handle Feeling Left Out for tips on how to offer support to your child.

If your child needs more support, therapy could be a useful place for them to express themselves and explore their feelings. Feel free to call us at (347) 758-2985 for a free fifteen-minute phone consultation. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

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