Be kind in fiction and life

“The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.”

William Wordsworth

Kind characters in literature (clockwise from top left): Roberta from The Railway Children written by Edith Nesbit; Rat in The Wind in the Willows written by Kenneth Grahame; The Giant in The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde; The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. © Helbling Languages

February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day, and November 13 is World Kindness Day. Two ideal events to think about what it means to be kind. We look at the question from two perspectives. First, we get some inspiration from the kindness of some favourite fictional characters, and then we make a list of the top ten acts of kindness you can offer to book lovers.

One of a kind

In the picture above you can see some of the kindest characters in literature (clockwise from top left): Bobbie from The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit; Rat in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame; The Giant in The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde; Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

When you are reading the stories, try to answer the following questions.

  1. What acts of kindness do these characters show?
  2. How would you describe these characters in one sentence?
  3. Do they change during the story?
  4. Do they have any weaknesses?
  5. What can you learn from them?

Here are our favourite kind characters from classic children’s books.

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10 Acts of Kindness for Book Lovers

The smallest acts of kindness can make someone’s day special. Random acts of kindness can become a habit, yet each one can make a huge difference to someone’s day. Here is a list of kind gestures you can choose from to surprise your bookloving friends.


Leave a special hand-made bookmark or a reminder in their book with a nice comment. Read our blog post about making bookmarks and prepare your own gift.

2 Book postcard

A book postcard is fun and will definitely make your friend happy. Pretend to be a character from a novel s/he has read or is reading, and write a postcard in the name of that character. Click here to see our tips on writing book postcards.

3 Tidy up their bookshelf together

Organise a shelf get-together to help organise your friend’s bookshelf.

4 Book token

Giving a friend a gift card to buy a new book is just as great a giving them a book. If you are not sure what they would like to read next, give them a book token for their favourite book shop.

5 Reading plannerReading planner

Design your own reading planner for a friend. Here you can download the Helbling Reading Planner for teachers. You can even write in book recommendations for them.

6 A silent book party: a reading marathon

A silent book party might sound like a nerdy thing to do, but it is perfect on a relaxing weekend. Choose your favourite books and organise an afternoon, evening, or even a day when you are just reading together. Remember to choose a comfortable place, lots of nice drinks and snacks and let the reading party begin!

7 Literary quotes

Write your favourite literary quotes on a poster or postcard.

8 Favourite character or author outfit

If you know who your friend’s favourite literary character is, you can make or buy something that reminds them of him/her (for example a magnifying glass for a Sherlock Holmes fan).

9 Leave a book behind

When you have finished reading a book, leave it as a surprise with a note in your friend’s home.

10 Organise a special book club session

Find a special event (Christmas, carneval, birthdays, anniversaries) to organise a special book party for your friend. Read about our ideas on organising themed book parties.

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