When deciding to have a child, my husband and I talked a lot about what we wanted for our new little one. We decided we wanted her to be kind, respectful and happy. Easy enough, right? Where would we even begin to try to teach her these things?

I’m sure you’ve heard this line before, but we didn’t have the internet when I was a kid. When I wanted to learn about a topic, I would drag my mom down to the library and spend hours combing through paper card catalogs and the Dewey decimal system. If I wanted a book about how to teach a child how to be kind, I would have to sift through the 300s section for an hour or more, trying not to sneeze from the deliriously pleasant scent of book dust.

Thank goodness Google has simplified things! (But I confess I do miss the old-fashioned analog way sometimes.)

Now, my little girl visits the local library two or three times a week. Besides the usual story time, many of our local branches also offer magic shows, singing, craft time, and last Halloween they even had a puppet show. Things have certainly changed since my day. Over the course of the last three years, we have come across several books that help teach kindness and understanding.

Here are my top three favorite board books for teaching kindness and understanding to my toddler, in no particular order.

  1. How Do Dinosaurs Play With their Friends? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. Does the dinosaur hide all of his toys and refuse to share with the other kids? Of course not! Friendly Mr. T. Rex and Stegosaurus always let others have a turn. After buying this book, my little bubba voluntarily handed her favorite toy to a friend who was crying. No joke.
  2. Goodnight, Dragons by Judith Roth and Pascal Lemaitre. Why do dragons breathe such angry fire? Because they need more cuddles, of course! Side effects include your little one asking for the healing powers of hot chocolate.
  3. How Kind! by Mary Murphy. Sweet farm animals start a chain of kind deeds. Animal sounds and “paying it forward”—enough said.

As parents, we hear every day about the importance of reading to our kids. From ages 0 to 3, reading to kids not only helps build their language skills, it helps bonds parents with their children. The only challenge is which books to choose.

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