Having compassion means seeing that someone needs help, and wanting to help them.

This is a list of children’s picture books that are about compassion. I’ve included these books because, in addition to a positive message, they are fun to read. Some are funny, or have great illustrations, and all of them held my attention and the attention of my kids. I hope you enjoy them, too.

Here is an idea to help jump-start a discussion about this virtue with kids:

Try the VirtueGame! It teaches 10 virtues in a fun, engaging way.



Lost! by David McPhail Published 1990

This book is simple enough for young children, and sweet and engaging enough to interest older kids, too. A bear stows away in a delivery truck and winds up lost in the city. A compassionate little boy helps him find his home.

Shibumi and the Kitemaker, story and pictures by Mercer Mayer

This book has vibrant, full color illustrations and a compelling story. Shibumi is the emperor’s daughter. She feels compassion when she sees the suffering in the city outside her palace walls, and decides to use her influence on her father to improve life in the city. She puts herself in danger, flying on a giant kite above the city and refusing to come down until the city is as beautiful as the palace, or the palace is as squalid as the city.

That’s What Friends Are For by Valeri Gorbachev Published 2005

This is a light-hearted book. Goat, a compassionate friend, sees pig crying. He spends all day thinking of what could be wrong and how to fix it.

Biscuit finds a Friend by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

A simple, early reader book. A little duck is lost.

Owen by Kevin Henkes

When Owen becomes too old for his fuzzy yellow blanket, his parents search for a compassionate solution.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams

This is a moving story. Two girls in a refugee camp find friendship and compassion for each other when they share a pair of sandals.

Ibis, a True Whale Story by John Himmelman

A whale gets caught in a fisherman’s net and is rescued.