Onjali Raúf's favourite books about kindness and compassion

Published on: 28 October 2020

When we see someone else's point of view, we help spread a little kindness in the world. The Boy at the Back of the Class and The Night Bus Hero author Onjali Raúf shares her favourite books to inspire kindness and compassion in young readers.

The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

What does a swallow who needs to get to Egypt for the winter, and a golden statue standing in a freezing town square have in common? Nothing it would seem at first glance - except the magnitude of their hearts. Wilde takes the theme of selfless giving, empathy and deep kindness to a level that staggers, creating one of the most tragically sweet tales ever to have been written.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

Who can’t help but love Charles Maxim: a lover of books whose kindness for an abandoned baby left wrapped up in a Beethoven symphony and literally pushed out to sea, heralds the beginning to an unforgettable adventure. Sophie’s journey as she pushes both herself and the boundaries of the physical world to find her mother, is one steeped in wonderful, heartwarming moments of gentle compassion.

Read our review of Rooftoppers

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

Join ‘Bobbie’,  Peter and Phyllis as they embark upon a series of adventures, all geared towards not only helping others, but not being afraid to ask for a little help too - all whilst trying to come to grips with a dark and painful family mystery of their own. Humorous and littered with generous and kind characters that will stay with you for a lifetime - from The Old Gentleman, to Mr Perks, to indomitable ‘Mother’, who keeps entire worlds turning, despite her own world having fallen apart.

Read our review of The Railway Children

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

Thanks to the inexhaustibly kind Dotty Buchanan, the elegant mystery that is Miss Helena, and the gift that is music and ballet, young Aya’s shoulders are gradually lightened from the overwhelming burdens she carries as a refugee child needing to care for her surviving loved ones. The mirroring of the world of ballet with Aya’s gradual ability to accept the kindness of strangers makes this story a truly beautiful one.

Read our review of No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Ah, Miss Honey! I defy anyone to read Matilda and not either wish that they had a Miss Honey in their own world, or feel glad that they know someone just like her. Her instinctive kind nature and ability to celebrate the uniqueness of every child she meets (in spite of her own story of abuse), makes her a stand-out a character in Roald Dahl’s funny and sometimes terrifying tale of not just a unique young girl, but a teacher who deserves as much compassion and kindness as she gifts.

Owen and the Soldier by Lisa Thompson

This moving, modern classic centres not only on kindness and respect for the stories of others, but also being kind to one’s own self too. Owen’s loneliness and struggles are shared with a crumbling stone soldier sitting on a memorial bench in a park, and a relationship based on mutual regard and honouring of the other is forged. Whilst at school, another Miss Honey-esque teacher, Mr Jennings, is trying to do what every good teacher seeks to do: bring Owen out of his shell, and recognise his own skills and powers. The results which follow make for a wonderful story.

Read our review of Owen and the Soldier

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

The seemingly sullen and cranky old widower, Tom Oakley, may not have been a first choice housemate for poor young evacuee Willie Beech, but he surely and silently proves himself to be the best. Tom’s quiet and grouchy ways mask a world of care and kind attentions to a boy traumatised by horrific levels of abuse occurring in the midst of World War II, and lead to a rescue mission which goes far and beyond the physical.

Read our review of Goodnight Mister Tom

Onjali Raúf's latest novel, The Night Bus Hero, is reviewed here. Follow Onjali on Twitter.

What's your favourite book about kindness? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @BookTrust!

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