I think we’re all pretty much agreed at this point: 2016 was The. Worst. I saw one person refer to it as a dumpster fire, and a friend suggested we invert the phrase: “That was one 2016 of a dumpster fire!” At least it looks like Carrie Fisher isn’t going to let it get her.

And let’s face it, 2017 isn’t slated to start off much better. (*Cough*inaugurationfromhell*cough*) So I figure I had best get ahead of the game by infusing an overabundance of kindness and caring into my home. To that end, I’ve selected a few books I’ll be adding to my kids’ library, compensating for the clusterf*ck I’m anticipating from on the national and international news front for the foreseeable future.

Here I present to you: Mama Librarian’s Kid Picks for a Kinder, Gentler 2017:

  • The Barefoot Book of Children.  If you want to combat the “Make America [white, straight, Christian, and male] Again” rhetoric coming from certain individuals in the national spotlight, you need this book. Gorgeous illustrations and simple text help children understand the beauty of diversity while at the same time exploring our shared humanity. As my friend Daniel Tiger would say, “In some ways we are different, but in so many ways, we are the same!”
  • Last Stop on Market Street.  Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal, as well as a 2016 Caldecott Honor book, this is one book I can’t wait to read and discuss with my preschooler. As CJ’s grandmother patiently answers his questions about the differences he sees between himself and his friends, everyone learns a lesson about the importance of kindness and giving. I’ve always loved author Matt de la Pena for his young adult books, and I’m so excited to see this children’s book winning accolades.
  • Horton Hears a Who. This is a Dr. Seuss classic that most of us grew up with, but it’s only as an adult — and especially in this current political climate — that I’ve come to appreciate its deeper meaning. Horton’s an outcast, but he doesn’t try to change himself. He stands up for the Whos because he knows it’s right. And in the end, the smallest voice is the one that makes the biggest difference, and those who fear anyone different learn the error of their ways. If only real life was as easy.
  • The Boy Who Grew Flowers. Inspired by the author’s brother, who has autism, this is a wonderful book about taking the time to learn to understand someone in spite of their differences. I added this book to my son’s shelf some time ago, and am excited to read it now that he’s finally old enough to start to think about the deeper meaning of the beautiful story.

2017 is going to need all the kindness it can get, so let’s start by filling our children’s imaginations with stories about the power of caring for others, in spite of our differences (or sometimes because of them). What are your favorite children’s books about kindness?