Sharing toys is often very difficult for young kids.

Books for Kids on Prosocial Behavior

by Jennifer Zimmerman

Prosocial behavior is when kids demonstrate socially desirable behaviors like sharing, cooperating, showing kindness, and taking turns when interacting with others. These behaviors can help kids build strong friendships and handle different social situations successfully, reports The Sesame Workshop. One way to teach kids about prosocial behavior is to read them books for kids on proscial behavior.


Sharing is a key prosocial behavior. One book that demonstrates the trait is "Mine, Mine, Mine" by Shelly Becker. In the picture book, Gail has a hard time sharing her toys when her cousin comes to visit, but eventually learns how. "The Children's Book Guide" also mentions "It's Mine" by Leo Lionni. In Lionni's book, the frogs learn that friendship is more important than personal ownership. There's also "We Share Everything" by Robert Munsch, where the children in a classroom go from fighting over toys to sharing just about everything.


The ability to cooperate is another prosocial trait that children should develop. One book that models cooperation is Leo Lionni's "Swimmy," where the tiny fish have to band together to protect themselves from predators. Jon Muth's retelling of "Stone Soup" is another option. In this suggestion from the Missouri Humanities Council, traveling monks teach townsfolk the joys of cooperation. Another suggestion from the council is "A Castle on Viola Street" by DyAnne DiSalvo. In that story, a family works together to build houses for others and learns about community in the process.

Showing Kindness

Children can be encouraged to show kindness and empathy through almost any children's story; parents can prompt a discussion of how each character feels. But some books also model kindness and empathy for children. "I'll Always Love You" by Paeony Lewis illustrates a mother's unconditional love for her son, even after he makes a mistake. Because of You, by B.G. Hennessey, shows children helping people and people helping children, says the Family Reading Partnership. They also suggest "The Little Engine That Could" by Watty Piper, a tale of a kind engine who bravely helps a train full of toys.

Taking Turns

Part of getting along with others is learning to wait for your turn. This can be especially difficult for young children to learn, but this prosocial behavior is important throughout our lives. One book that shows the perils of not waiting your turn in "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin Jr. In the story, all the letters pile onto the palm tree, causing it to crash down. Another story that exemplifies prosocial behavior is "Little Blue Truck Leads the Way" by Alice Schertle. All of the cars and trucks try to push ahead, leading to one giant traffic jam. "Little Blue Truck" shows everyone a better way. Then there's "Sharing, Getting Along, and Taking Turns" by Dianne Branch, a book about siblings who need to learn to get along.

About the Author

Jennifer Zimmerman is a former preschool and elementary teacher who has been writing professionally since 2007. She has written numerous articles for The Bump, Band Back Together, Prefab and other websites, and has edited scripts and reports for DWJ Television and Inversion Productions. She is a graduate of Boston University and Lewis and Clark College.

Photo Credits

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