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Summer Reading: Books That Help You Be a Better Person

Inspire Kindness Team

Responsibilities & Values

Summer and reading just seem to go together, you know … like peanut butter and jelly. We know there are book club books and school summer reading and fun beach reading, but we also encourage you to pick up a book that helps you learn to be a better person. Here are our recommendations:

For Preschoolers

Kindness Starts With You

by Jacquelyn Stagg

Description: Follow Maddy through her day at school, where your child will learn how easy it can be to spread kindness!

What We Love: Good one for teaching the golden rule; almost every page ends with “This is what I would want someone to do for me.”

Great for: Giving kids ideas for how to be kind

“Being kind is the best way to stand out.”

Calm-Down Time 

by Elizabeth Verdick

Description: This gentle, reassuring book offers toddlers simple tools to release strong feelings, express them, and calm themselves down.

What We Love: Kids get sad and mad, and they need to learn that it’s ok to take a break. This book gives examples of what that can look like.

Great for: Teaching kids to love themselves

“1.2.3. I’m taking care of me.”

The Pout-Pout Fish

by Deborah Diesen

Description: Swim along with the pout-pout fish as he discovers that being glum and spreading “dreary wearies” isn’t really his destiny.

What We Love: This book is a memory-making read full of fun lines that kids and parents will remember for years to comes.

Great for: Helping kids realize that all of us get the “dreary wearies” sometimes, but we work to cheer each other up.

“Blub. Bluub. Bluuuuuub.”

For Elementary Kids

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

by Patty Lovell

Description: Molly Lou Melon is a little different, but this doesn’t slow her down.

What We Love: Molly’s grandma has wise words for all us, and these illustrations are adorable.

Great for: Teaching kids about self-esteem and talking about bullies

“Walk as proudly as you can, and the world will look up to you.”

Kindness Gets A Thumbs Up!

by Brenda Li

Description: Join Dot as he goes about his day and shows kindness to all sorts of people.

What We Love: This book uses thumbs up and thumbs down emojis to describe their circumstances, and children can watch the emoji turn as Dot shows kindness. It quickly indicates the power of kindness!

Great for: teaching kids how to recognize emotions in other people

“Wow! Being kind is so easy!”

Bad Seed

by Jory John and Pete Oswald

Description: This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know? He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! This seed cuts in line every time, stares at everybody, and never listens. But what happens when one mischievous little seed changes his mind about himself and decides that he wants to be—happy?

What We Love: Bad Seed gives beautiful illustrations that show examples of being “bad” and offers opportunities to talk about good and bad manners. Check out The Good Egg and The Cool Bean as well!

Great for: Teaching kids that everyone makes mistakes, but you can keep trying

“But I’m trying. I’m taking it one day at a time.”

For Tweens and Teens


by R.J. Palacio

Description: August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.

What We Love: You’ll want to hug everyone in this book for one reason or another.

Great for: Teaching empathy

“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”

The Success Principles for Teens: How To Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

by Jack Canfield

Description: The Success Principles for Teens is a roadmap for every young person. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to become a better student or athlete, start a business, make millions of dollars, or simply find guidance and direction, the principles in this book always work if you work the principles.

What We Love: Memorable quotes from outstanding leaders in this outline of 23 of the most essential success strategies

Great for: Family or group discussions

“Stop hanging with turkeys and soar with eagles.”

Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens

by Sheri Van Dijk

Description: In this book, you’ll find new ways of managing your feelings so that you’ll be ready to handle anything life sends your way.

What We Love: It’s hard being a teen, but this book gives teenagers tips and techniques to manage mood swings and control outbursts.

Great for: Helping teens define what emotions they are feeling

“If you’re living in the present…you only have to deal with what’s actually going on in that moment.”

For Adults

ROI of Kindness

by Brian Biro and Mac Anderson

Description: As you dive into this empowering little book, you’ll soon discover that this simple secret, KINDNESS, can transform your brand, your customer loyalty, your success in attracting and retaining fantastic people, and your organization moving your team from fear to freedom, from failure to faith, from ego to we go, from good to GREAT!

What We Love: It’s ours!

Great for: Shaping business culture and leading teams

“Each and every one of us needs to become a Chief Kindness Officer.”

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey

Description: This book continues to be a best seller because it ignores trends and pop psychology and focuses on timeless principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity.

What We Love: It’s a classic that remains relevant. It is easy to understand and gives practical next steps.

Great for: Career, marriage, parenting, life

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

The Last Lecture

by Randy Pausch

Description: A book based on the phenomenal lecture about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment.

What We Love: Beautiful love letter from a man to his family with life lessons for us all

Great for: Small group and team-building discussions

“The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all, you have.”

Happy summer, happy reading. Here’s to learning to be an even better person. Thanks for inspiring kindness.

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Inspire Kindness Team

Inspire Kindness was created to amplify the power of kindness through the things we do, words we say, and the clothes we wear. We’re committed to keeping kindness top of mind with products that spread the message and inspiring stories that transform the way we approach everyday life. It takes all of us to create a better world, now and for generations to come, one act at a time. Learn more at