10 Powerful Nonfiction Books on Kindness and Empathy

Kindness can be hard sometimes, but these amazing books are here to help us get started!

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Book covers of "The Kindness Diaries," "Kindness and Wonder," and "The Rabbit Effect."

We could all use a little more kindness in the world. Life is hard, and even a small act of kindness could make someone’s day better. But sometimes, kindness can be challenging, and it may not feel worth it. Regardless, there are many ways to be kind and lots of benefits for others and yourself. There are lots of helpful books, from scientific to practical to even children’s books. If you are curious to learn more about other forms of selflessness, continue reading to find out some helpful books on empathy.

The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart and Your World by Tara Cousineau

'The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart and Your World' by Tara Cousineau, PhD book cover with rainbow colors in a watercolor pattern.
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Empathy is in human DNA, but in the technologically advanced world we live in, levels of empathy and kindness have dropped. It’s easy to feel alone and isolated even around loved ones. This book shows how even though skills like kindness and empathy are now seen as weak or soft, they are essential to our survival as a species. It teaches about compassion, mindfulness, social and emotional learning, and more. It’s a great read for someone truly trying to understand and implement the necessity of kindness.

The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World by Jamil Zaki

'The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World' by Jamil Zaki book cover with a beige background, green and red circles, and blue and orange rectangles.
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Empathy is in short supply these days. Most of us can’t relate to or feel empathy for those different from us, and find it much easier to dislike or even hate them. But it doesn’t have to stay like this. Jamil Zaki shares new research, including experiments he conducted, that show that empathy is a skill, not just something we’re either born with or not. He also shares stories about people who overcame their lack of empathy and turned to helping those around them. It’s a great uplifting read that shows anyone can develop empathy and be kind.

Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever by Gavin Edwards

'Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever' by Gavin Edwards book cover showing Mister Rogers with a small castle and stuffed animal.
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This book pays tribute to the generous, kind Mister Rogers who shared messages of generosity and love with children and their parents. His compassionate and successful TV show shaped an entire generation of kids. Many of his lessons are talked about here, as well as interviews with celebrities whose lives were touched by him. As the world keeps advancing, we need this man’s lessons more than ever.

Deep Kindness: A Revolutionary Guide for the Way We Think, Talk, and Act in Kindness by Houston Kraft

'Deep Kindness: A Revolutionary Guide for the Way We Think, Talk, and Act in Kindness' by Houston Kraft book cover with a shovel pointing down and flowers blooming around it.
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Just telling someone to “be kind” doesn’t do anything, nor does it help to spread kindness in a world that desperately needs it. This book helps to achieve this by doing several things: breaking up the types of kindness we need; giving anecdotes of people being kind; and how to put kindness into actions and make a difference. There is much to do to bring about a kind world, but this book helps us start that path.

Rebels Of Kindness: How Loving-Care Transforms Self, Others & Planet By Aaron Ableman and Justin Wilkenfeld

'Rebels Of Kindness: How Loving-Care Transforms Self, Others & Planet' by Aaron Ableman and Justin Wilkenfeld book cover showing someone pulling the pages of a book to reveal more people.
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This is an interactive book on the power of kindness, focusing on science-based practices to demonstrate how kindness can transform our lives and the lives of those around us. There are also 40 stories of people who changed their lives, others, and even the world by being kind. The rebels of kindness have always been around, and are far more numerous than we think. We just need to take in their wisdom and act with kindness ourselves.

The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness by Kelli Harding

'The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness' by Kelli Harding, MD, MPH book cover with a yellow background and an EKG in the shape of rabbit ears.
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This book is based on research that proves love, connection, and kindness all have a big impact on health. The experiment used rabbits, initially trying to show a relationship between high-fat diets and heart health. Dr. Robert Nerem and his team discovered that even with a fatty diet, some rabbits didn’t have any health impacts because the post-doc researcher in charge of them spoke to them gently and treated them with kindness. Dr. Kelli Harding uses this experiment to show that the same applies to humans: friendship, community, and love are very important health factors.

The Kindness Method: Change Your Habits for Good Using Self-Compassion and Understanding by Shahroo Izadi

'The Kindness Method: Change Your Habits for Good Using Self-Compassion and Understanding' by Shahroo Izadi book cover showing colorful pieces of what looks like confetti.
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This book will help to permanently break bad habits. Shahroo Izadi uses her personal experience, methods she learned from her work in the substance abuse field, and her style to share these steps to strengthen willpower. It’s about treating yourself with kindness and compassion — as many of us will not treat ourselves with the same compassion we reserve for others. This method will work on any bad habit, from procrastination to substance abuse, and it’s ultimately up to you; this book will only serve as a guide.

The Kindness Diaries: One Man’s Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World by Leon Logothetis

'The Kindness Diaries: One Man’s Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World' by Leon Logothetis book cover with the top half showing a man riding a motorcycle and people surrounding another man, and the bottom showing two men standing in water.
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A man abandoned his unfulfilling life in search of a meaningful one. He sets out from Los Angeles on a motorbike and plans to travel the world by only relying on strangers’ kindness. He somehow does, asking strangers for shelter, food, and gas. He is amazed by human kindness, such as a farmer helping him fix his bike after it breaks down to a homeless man sharing his blanket. He does his best to repay kindness, including leaving gifts behind or rebuilding destroyed or damaged homes. It is a heartwarming book that shows the best of humanity.

Human Kindness: True Stories of Compassion and Generosity That Changed the World by John Francis and illustrated by Josy Bloggs

'Human Kindness: True Stories of Compassion and Generosity That Changed the World' by John Francis and illustrated by Josy Bloggs book cover with many people interacting.
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The Planetwalker, John Francis, shares the kindness he experienced as well as how kindness has impacted history and formed laws, communities, and morals worldwide. Examples include Harriet Tubman, who had to risk her life to help others escape slavery, and the Linda Lindas who used their musical talents as a way to speak up for the rights of others. These inspiring stories will hopefully spread kindness, even in small ways.

What Does It Mean to Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

'What Does It Mean to Be Kind?' by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch book cover showing six children holding up large flowers.
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This children’s book takes a rare approach to kindness by being proactive, rather than reactive, in a conversation on kindness. Kindness is explained in an easy, accessible way, with examples of kindness including celebrating other people’s differences and complimenting someone. A young girl decides to be kind to the new student, and this act spreads across the community and positively impacts everyone there.

Let’s all try to make this world a better place — one book at a time.


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