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I think we can agree that we want to raise children that are kind. Empathy is a great power, that helps us to understand each other better, but also helps us to thrive and grow. And it is not something we are born with, it is something we can learn. Various studies show that reading promotes kindness: children learn to see the world through someone else's eyes, a key factor for empathy. It also helps them experiences very different lives from their own. Kindness is one level up from empathy (after all a good sales person might also be good in seeing things from our point of view, but not necessarily be doing something for your good). A kind person helps make the world a better place, And might be happier too.

So here are my favorite picture books in German that promote kindness (or so I hope), just in time for Empathy Day on June 9th.

Doerfeld HAESCHEN TROESTET picture book in German

Cori Doerrfeld


A little kid named Charlie (it could be a girl or a boy) builds an amazing tower of blocks, when a flock of birds swoops in and topples it over. A chicken notices and wants to help, it suggest to talk things through, a bear suggests to scream, the elephant wants to fix it, a kangaroo wants to clean up... but the child doesn't want to do any of that. and so they all leave. Then a little rabbit comes. It just holds the kid and listens. It listens as Charlie talks things through, and screams and rages...And then just builds something new.

This beautiful award-winning book will resonate with children - and teaches that listening is the way to help.

2 years and up

Szekessy WIE DU BIST, WENN DU SO BIST German kids' book

Tanja Skezessy


A little girl and a bunny are best friends. But sometimes the little girl does things that are not so nice. With few words and telling illustrations we see how that makes the bunny feel... Luckily she also can be very nice. And then everybody is happy.

Great book to talk through with your little one.

3 years and up

Bright DER KNUDDELSAURUS picture' book in German

Rachel Bright / Chris Chatterton


Knuddelsaurus is a small dinosaur venturing out in the world for the first time. She is ready to make new friends and have a great time, but then her new found pals all start quarrelling. Knuddelsaurus is upset, but then remembers what her father does when she gets upset: a hug and kind words makes this world a better place for all.

Heartwarming picture book in rhyme by the author of DER LOEWE IN DIR.

3 years and up

Donaldson Scheffler SUPERWURM picture book in German

Julia Donaldson / Axel Scheffler


The winning team of Gruffelo and countless other picture books (which often have kindness and cooperation as a theme) tell the story of the amazing superworm that helps all in need, no matter if it is a baby toad, bored bees or a beetle that has fallen. But then the evil lizard and his servant the crow catch superworm! Who will help him?

Super fun story in rhyme!

3 years and up

Dubuc DER LOEWE UND DER VOGEL picture book in German

Marianne Dubuc


One fall day while gardening Lion finds a bird with a broken wing.

The other birds are flying South, but this bird can't fly with them. Lion nurses the little bird and over the winter the two become close friends. When spring comes, the bird sees his flock and joins them again. The lion goes back to his solitary life. When autumn comes close, he begins to hope the bird will join him again for the winter...

I will admit, I have a soft spot for the serene, whimsical colored-pencil illustrations of Marianne Dubuc. They shine in this beautiful, meditative and touching picture book about kindness and friendship.

3 years and up

Lobe Kaufmann DER APFELBAUM German picture book

Mira Lobe / Angelika Kaufman


A book about seasons and about a giving tree, very different from Silverstein's: in Spring, when it is still cold, birds are looking for a new home. All the other trees in the orchard keep turning them away, but the fruit tree invites them in. The same with bugs and other birds, and animals. Soon the apple tree is bustling with life. When the winter comes, the other fruit trees are cold and lonely, but the apple tree is kept warm and has company by all the animals it houses.

The Austrian children's book author Mira Lobe has written many classics, the topics of inclusion and cooperation are in common thread in her books (and probably a reason her books are here to stay). I love all her books. She would have turned 100 this year.

4 years and up

Blue DAS ERSTE EINHOERNCHEN picture book in German

Beatrice Blue


A little girl roams in the woods, finds a magic wand and a castle and then discovers little unicorns (that resemble little bunnies). One of the just can't fly. The little girl tries to help, magic won't help. But then with a little mishap and help from her parents she learns that the biggest magic comes through kindness and friendship.

3 years and up

Scheffler EINFACH NETT picture book in German

Alison Green, Axel Scheffler et alii


Being kind can make a big change. In this picture book 38 illustrators illustrate how we can be kind: being open to others, being good listeners or helpers, console others... It is a perfect little book to remind us all how easy and inspiring it can be!

4 years and up

All books are available for rent within the US with one of our subscriptions.


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