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As adults, we know forgiveness is a virtue we all need to cultivate, but we also realize it’s not easily learned. Kids often have a hard time with it (as do adults!), and they need to have forgiveness modeled to them by the people around them in order to begin to understand the need for and importance of it.
As with many things in life, kids (and adults) can also learn about forgiveness from stories—both non-fiction and fiction. Through stories, kids can observe situations where other children need to forgive, and they can learn from the ways the characters deal with those situations.
The following fiction books will help kids understand the importance of forgiveness. This isn’t an exhaustive list of books that teach forgiveness by any means, as many books deal with the theme of forgiveness in minor ways. However, these books place a primary focus on the value of forgiveness.
Books That Teach Forgiveness to Younger Children
by Kevin Henkes
Lilly brings her new purse and its treasures to school for show and tell, but her teacher, Mr. Slinger, confiscates the purse. Up to that point, she absolutely adored her teacher, but now? She’s out for revenge. However, something happens to make her remorseful, and she decides to make amends.
by Mercer Mayer
Little Critter enjoys being forgiven when he makes mistakes. However, when he needs to forgive someone, it’s not so easy. But his friends help him see that forgiving his pal will help both of them.
by Ame Dyckman
Bear breaks a little girl’s kite. He didn’t mean to, but she’s angry anyway. He decides to just go with his new horrible reputation, but then something happens that changes both of their minds.
by Mo Willems
When Gerald accidentally breaks Piggie’s new toy, Piggie has to learn to forgive.
Books That Teach Forgiveness to Older Children
by Dana Wilkerson
Macy Rivera is starting fifth grade with a new teacher, an old enemy, and a desire to change the world. When her teacher challenges the class to create projects that will make a difference in their community, Macy and her best friend, Jacob, start planning with gusto. Life would be great if not for one person: Macy’s former best friend, Olivia. They argue about everything, and they can’t seem to avoid each other. Will Macy let Olivia ruin her year, or will they choose to forgive each other and learn to be friends again?
Note: Mustang Macy has a companion novel for adults, Mustang Jessie. Both books have the same characters and an intertwining storyline, so adults and kids can read the books together and discuss them.
by Ali Standish
Ethan’s family moves from Boston to a small southern town after a tragic accident involving Ethan’s best friend, Kacey. In his new town, Ethan finds a new friend, Coralee, who has some secrets and disappointments of her own. Through his friendships and family relationships, Ethan must learn to move on from the loss of Kacey. This emotional story explores the themes of loss, friendship, family, and forgiveness.
by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Eleanor “Groovy” Robinson’s life starts to fall apart, and she wonders if everything will ever be OK again. But the swallows that come back to her coastal town each year bring a message of hope for Groovy. Can she forgive someone she loves in order to make things right again?
by Eleanor Estes
Wanda Petronski is taunted and bullied by her classmates for wearing the same dress every day. She tells everyone she has a hundred dresses at home, but of course nobody believes her. Wanda’s family moves away to someplace they will be more accepted, which leads her former classmate, Maddie, to regret her actions toward Wanda. This story of bullying, redemption, and forgiveness from the 1940s is just as relevant today as it was then.
Please note that these books are merely suggestions, and they may not be suitable for your family, child, or situation. It is the reader’s responsibility to do all of the appropriate research needed for their own children.
Want some more help with teaching your kids about forgiveness? Download the 6-page “Conversation Guide: How to Talk to Kids About Forgiveness” resource from our store. It’s free for a limited time. Click here to find it.