The best picture books with a touch of hope, happiness, and empathy

Who am I?

I’m a former reading specialist/educational specialist who still enjoys reading aloud to students, helping kids learn to read, and introducing them to quality literature. I love reading picture books...and I write them to entertain and empower kids.

I wrote...

The Thingity-Jig

By Kathleen Doherty, Kristyna Litten (illustrator),

Book cover of The Thingity-Jig

What is my book about?

Under the light of a silvery moon, inquisitive Bear ventures into People Town, where he makes quite the curious discovery. What is this? A springy thing—a bouncy thing—a sit-on-it, jump-on-it thing!

This Thingity-Jig is way too heavy to bring back to the woods by himself, however, so Bear runs home to tell his friends. But nobody wants to get out of bed to help! So Bear invents a Rolly-Rumpity to wheel the Thingity-Jig home, and then it all gets stuck in the mud. How will Bear tackle this bump in the road? With a Lifty-Uppity, of course! 

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Night I Followed the Dog

By Nina Laden,

Book cover of The Night I Followed the Dog

Why this book?

This book inspires happiness and laughter. I used to throw my voice when I read it aloud to students. I’d stop reading halfway through the story and ask students to make a few predictions. Where could the dog be going? Why is he dressed up? Why is he sneaking out of the house at night? What could be going on inside the building?

Doctor White

By Jane Goodall, Julie Litty (illustrator),

Book cover of Doctor White

Why this book?

This book inspires hope and is based on a true story. Think about the pros and cons of a dog being allowed in a hospital. What could go wrong with a dog walking the halls and visiting patients? Is it possible for patients to actually benefit from being visited by a dog?

Butterfly House

By Eve Bunting, Greg Shed (illustrator),

Book cover of Butterfly House

Why this book?

This is a gentle, lyrical story. This book inspires love. If you read it, you’ll feel the loving relationship the girl has with her grandfather...and with butterflies. You’ll wonder why the butterflies visit the girl once she’s grown up. What do the butterflies who visit her seem to know or sense? Why aren’t the butterflies visiting her neighbors?

The Teddy Bear

By David McPhail,

Book cover of The Teddy Bear

Why this book?

This story inspires empathy. You may recall a time when you lost something you treasured. Reading this book will get you caring for both the boy and the man in the story. Who needed the teddy bear more? How does the boy change from the beginning of the story to the end? Have you ever been generous like the main character?

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

By Eileen Spinelli, Paul Yalowitz (illustrator),

Book cover of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

Why this book?

The story inspires sadness, hope, and happiness. At first, you’ll feel sorry for Mr. Hatch. You’ll care about him and wonder why he is the way he is. You’ll watch him receive a gift that has a lasting effect on him. Then, with a turn of events, you’ll feel sorry for him again. But by the end, you’ll be rooting for him.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in empathy, butterflies, and dogs?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about empathy, butterflies, and dogs.

Empathy Explore 86 books about empathy
Butterflies Explore 16 books about butterflies
Dogs Explore 252 books about dogs

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Day the Crayons Quit, Miss Rumphius, and The Dot if you like this list.