As I started to look for books to include on this list – I wanted to share a list of stories for kids about religion throughout the world that would spark conversation about the differences in some of the world’s most popular religions. But the more great stories about world religions I found, the more I realized I was going about this all wrong.
Sharing these stories for kids about religion gives us so much more than simply learning about and respecting the beliefs of others.
Reading stories from this list can change the world. Lofty, I know. Melodramatic? I don’t think so. But hang with me here for a moment. And I’ll break it down for you.
I found this beautiful quote and it changed the whole purpose behind putting this list together:
“Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics, economic crises and ecological disaster. At that scale, our response must be as one.
Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world. From this perspective, mutual understanding among these traditions is not merely the business of religious believers — it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole.” -Tenzin Gyatso, the XIVth Dalai Lama (emphasis added) (cite)
There are so many religions and philosophies – far too many to cover here. And I confess, there is one glaring omission from this list. I have not included stories for kids about Christianity. I worked under the assumption that many or most of my readers were from countries where Christianity is the predominant faith and I wanted to explore religions that differ from our own.
Stories for Kids About Islam
Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom.
Lailah solves her problem with help from the school librarian and her teacher and in doing so learns that she can make new friends who respect her beliefs.
With breathtaking illustrations and informative text, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns magnificently captures the world of Islam, celebrating its beauty and traditions for even the youngest readers. Sure to inspire questions and observations about world religions and cultures, this entrancing volume is equally at home in the classroom as it is being read to a child on a parent’s lap.
Beside every person’s shoulder, there are two angels. Muslims know them as the Kiraman Katibin (the noble scribes). They write down every deed, good and bad, from a person’s first day to their last.
Inside this book you will find out all about them, and how to turn those bad deeds into good ones, with a lovable and cheeky young boy.
Ilyas and Duck search for Allah is an adorable storybook for kids about a boy’s quest to find God. “Where is God?” is a question that any parent teaching their kids will one day have to answer. This book helps parents answer that question while conveying the profound mystery of it all in a fun way. In this story, likable Ilyas pairs up with Duck to ask the one question over and over in different scenarios. With whimsical and poetic replies, Ilyas slowly begins to realize what his question truly means. And by the end, his childish curiosity is fulfilled with profound realizations. Other Ilyas and Duck stories include Ilyas and Duck in a Zakat Tale, A Story About Giving, and Ilyas and Duck and the Fantastic Festival of Eid-Al-Fitr.
This inspiring collection of illustrated stories offers an Islamic take on the lives and missions of familiar prophets. Through these Islamic renditions, children are made keenly aware of the importance of certain virtues steadfastness, patience, and honesty exhibited by religious role models in the Quran, including Abraham, Moses, Noah, and Jesus, and the prophets’ willingness to endure hardship as a means to an honest life.
Stories for Kids About Judiaism
“Isn’t tonight the first night of Hanukkah?” Hershel asked the villagers. “We don’t have Hanukkah, Hershel,” one of them answered sadly. “No Hanukkah? How can that be?”
“It’s because of the goblins. They haunt the old synagogue at the top of the hill. They hate Hanukkah. Whenever we try to light a menorah, the goblins blow out the candles. They break our dreidels. They throw our potato latkes on the floor. Those wicked goblins make our lives miserable all year long, but on Hanukkah it’s really bad.”
Join Mitzvah Meerkat and friends as they introduce children to the everyday kindnesses that mark the beginning of a Jewish journey and a lifetime commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world). Through lively illustrations and playful dialogue, children engage with Jewish wisdom as they share in welcoming new friends, forgiving mistakes, respecting elders, sharing food with the hungry, and much, much more.
These twenty-one stories cover the gamut from gentle humor to profound faith to warm kindness. The heroes range from kings and sages to wise travelers and fantasizing laborers. This is one of those rare books that youngsters will curl up with again and again.
A refugee seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht, Oskar arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his new home in the north of the city, he passes experiences the city’s many holiday sights, and encounters it various residents. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world.
Larnel doesn’t know his neighbor, Mrs. Katz, very well, until he asks her to adopt an abandoned kitten. Mrs. Katz agrees on one condition: that Larnel help her take care of the kitten she names Tush. When Larnel starts spending more and more time with Mrs. Katz to help with Tush, Mrs. Katz tells him stories about coming to America from Poland and about the good times she spent with her late husband. As Larnel grows to love Mrs. Katz, he also learns about the suffering and triumph black history shares with the Jewish heritage.
Stories for Kids About Hinduism
The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna tells the enchanting tale of the child Krishna, who is sent by the God Vishnu to aid humanity. Hidden amongst the poor cowherds, Krishna uses his miraculous powers to fight an evil demon king who has overthrown the peaceful kingdom of Mathura. The story of Krishna, dating to the 8th century BCE, and forming an integral part of Hinduism, is beautifully brought to life by award-winning author and illustrator, Demi.
Brilliant firecrackers lighting up the night,
Diyas twinkling like stars – what a sight!
This is Diwali, in all its glory,
As told to little Klaka – a magical story.
“Amme Tell Me” is a charming and informative series of children’s books that introduces the major Hindu festivals and figures to young readers. Written in rhyme with vivid, captivating illustrations, this series brings Hindu mythology to its readers in a fun and non-preachy way. The Series has ten books on the festivals of Holi, Diwali, and on the Hindu gods Krishna, Hanuman and Ganesha.
This colorfully illustrated multicultural children’s book presents Indian fairy tales and other folk stories—providing insight into a rich literary culture.
Indian Children’s Favorite Stories is a charming selection of eight Indian tales that provide an insight into traditional Indian culture. Retold for an international audience, the beautifully illustrated stories will give children of all ages a glimpse into the fables and folklore of India including tales of how the Lord Krishna escapes the evil Kamsa’s repeated attempts to kill him, and how the elephant keeper’s daughter, Rani, humbles an unwise and unjust king by emptying his storehouses of rice.
Featured Indian stories include:
- Munna and the Grain of Rice
- The Birth of Krishna
- No Ordinary Lad
- The Story of Rama
- Sukhu and Dukhu
- Tenali Raman
- Journey to Heaven
- The Foolish Man
A glossary is also included to clarify Indian words. The Children’s Favorite Stories series was created to share the folktales and legends most beloved by children in the East with young readers of all backgrounds in the West. Other multicultural children’s books in this series include: Asian Children’s Favorite Stories, Indonesian Children’s Favorite Stories, Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories, Singapore Children’s Favorite Stories, Filipino Favorite Children’s Stories, Favorite Children’s Stories from China & Tibet, Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories, Korean Children’s Favorite Stories, Balinese Children’s Favorite Stories, and Vietnamese Children’s Favorite Stories.
Not strictly a Hindu story, but beautiful nonetheless withHindu words defined and sprinkled throughout the text to further add to the authenticity of the story.
Every day, Rupas grandmother wears a beautiful Indian sari. Each is brightly colored and very beautiful. Dont you ever want to wear a gray skirt and red blouse with round buttons like Mommy or a green dress like me? Rupa asks. But Dadima prefers to wear her traditional saris. She shares with her granddaughter all the wonderful things that saris can dofrom becoming an umbrella in a rainstorm to providing a deep pouch to carry seashells. Soon Rupas own imagination is sparked as she envisions saris protecting her in the scary Gir Jungle, bandaging up an injured knee, and holding a special secret for her and Dadima to share. Kashmira Sheth provides young readers with a unique view of Indian culture and tradition through this affectionate, sensitive portrait of a grandmother and her American granddaughter.
Pixar animator and Academy Award–nominated director Sanjay Patel (Sanjay’s Super Team) brings to life Hinduism’s most important gods and goddesses (and one sacred stone) in fun, full-color illustrations, each accompanied by a short, lively profile. The Little Book of Hindu Deities is chock-full of monsters, demons, noble warriors, and divine divas. Find out why Ganesha has an elephant’s head (his father cut his off!); why Kali, the goddess of time, is known as the “Black One” (she’s a bit goth); and what “Hare Krishna” really means.
*Heads Up – this book of childrens stories is intended for tweens and teens. It’s pages are gorgeous and the stories informative and fascinating – but use this with children who are older. My eight year old loves it – but it’s a bit much for my six year old.
Stories for Kids About Buddhism
In I Once Was a Monkey, a monkey, caught in a monsoon, finds shelter in a cave amid the rubble of a temple. The monkey is not alone. A lion, a jackal, a turtle, and a dove bicker in the cramped space, until a statue of Buddha comes to life. “Hush, children, hush.” Buddha says. “I will tell you a story to pass the time.” From the tale of the clever monkey outwitting a hungry crocodile to that of a bird and turtle rescuing a friend, the six amusing parables told by the Buddha will introduce young readers to the famous cycle of fables in Buddhist literature known as the Jatakas, or birth stories, which Buddha originally told to his disciples to illustrate his teachings.
The Hermit and the Well is a story from the time the author was a young boy in Vietnam. When his school class goes on a trip to climb a mountain. He hopes to meet the hermit who lives near the top. Instead, he discovers a beautifiul well and finds the secret to his own happiness.
In Is Nothing Something? Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh answers heartfelt, difficult, and funny questions from children of all ages. Illustrated with original full-color artwork by Jessica McClure, Is Nothing Something? will help adults plant the seeds of mindfulness in the young children in their lives. Beginning with the most basic questions, “What is important in life?” and “Why is my brother mean to me?” and progressing through issues that we all wrestle with, such as “How do I know if I really love somebody?”, “How long am I going to live?”, and “What does God look like?”, each page presents a question with a short answer from Thich Nhat Hanh, appropriate for beginning readers to work with on their own.
Many of today’s children face challenges and obstacles far beyond what their parents ever imagined. The 20 thoroughly modern retellings of ancient Buddhist tales in Buddah at Bedtime give parents a fun, low-pressure way to impart wisdom and moral guidance without preaching. Each story highlights a moral or ethical dilemma that echoes those that children face in their own lives, providing insight and enlightenment that they can use to defuse trying situations. At the conclusion of each story, applicable Buddhist principles are discussed. Featuring engaging characters, enthralling adventures, and modern language that speaks to today’s kids, these beautifully illustrated stories can help children relieve stress, attain greater academic and social achievement, and enjoy a more positive outlook on life.
In Steps and Stones, Anh’s friends leave and he feels left out at school, his anger shows up to keep him company. Anh the protagonist of Gail Silver’s previous book Anh’s Anger, is a typical and easy-to-relate-to elementary school-age boy. His anger, personified as a red hairy impulsive creature, teaches him some valuable lessons about not getting carried away by his strong emotions. By counting his steps and coordinating them with his breathing Anh is able to slow down and take his anger for a peaceful and magically transformative walk.
Stories for Kids About Confucianism
Confucianism, is less a religion, and more of an ethical and philosophical system, which developed from Confucius’ thoughts and later was treated as a kind of belief to educate common people.
In his newest adventure, Ming and his father travel to Qufu in China’s Shandong Province, the hometown of the famous Chinese sage Confucius, born over 2,500 years ago. While Ming’s father studies the stunning historic architecture, Ming’s attention is drawn to a game of Chinese checkers set up in a gazebo. But as soon as he touches the checkers, Ming finds himself magically transported back in time to ancient Qufu. There he meets Confucius and his students, and explores with them the principles established by the renowned teacher, which remain so important in China today.
Li Jiam has also written other books in the series: Ming’s Adventure with the Terracotta Army; Ming’s Adventure into the Forbidden City; Ming’s Adventure on China’s Great Wall; and Ming’s Kung Fu Adventure in the Shaolin Temple.
Don’t wait until your kids get to school before they learn about who Confucius is. Get them this book and create an edge among other kids by teaching them history effortlessly. Confucius and his teachings are surely very interesting and this book makes sure your kids feel it too. Get a copy now!
I was unable to find many books on the life philosophy of Confucianism. But I did find this page with some great resources for learning about he philosophy.
Stories for Kids About Taoism
Voyage to the Sun: A Children’s Version of the Tao te Chingis a children’s version of the classic Tao te Ching with text that is accessible to the young. The pages contain the ideas present in the original Tao but simplified for children. An additional storyline has been added about an elder’s visit to a family with two children. Whimsical illustrations by Joan Hunter Iovino.
Buy this for the children in your life. This book will teach them about kindness, our shared humanity, recognizing natural patterns, to look for the subtle and the nuanced, and to be bold and learn to think for themselves. It encourages them to put aside hate and take steps to be a positive influence in the world.
The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao te Ching opens with a biography, the mysterious philosopher who is said to have been born at the age of eighty-one with snow-white hair, the ability to walk and talk, and unparalleled wisdom. Many credit him with creating the Tao Te Ching, which was written for the good of all humankind. Twenty of the eighty-one passages of the Tao Te Ching are included here, paired with stunning illustrations by the award-winning artist Demi. On topics ranging from silence to moderation, from governing to the balance of earth and heaven, these passages carry a powerful message and are sure to give each and every reader something new to consider.
The Tao of Pooh? The how of Pooh? The Tao of who? The Tao of Pooh!?! In which it is revealed that one of the world’s great Taoist masters isn’t Chinese–or a venerable philosopher–but is in fact none other than that effortlessly calm, still, reflective bear. A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh! While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is.
And that’s a clue to the secret wisdom of the Taoists.
And don’t forget, there’s also The Te of Piglet! . . . in which a good deal of Taoist wisdom is revealed through the character and actions of A. A. Milne’s Piglet. Piglet? Yes, Piglet. Piglet herein demonstrates a very important principle of Taoism: Virtue–of the Small.
Audio Books & A Free Conversation Starter Cheat Sheet
One other thing – if you don’t already know this about me, I adore books. I think they are beautiful and I love the feel of a book in my hand. But…when that’s not an option – my whole family loves having a library of books at our fingertips. And we love that these books can travel with us on the way to school, on road trips, or just running around town. And for this, we love Audible!!
Now that you’ve read through and hopefully chosen a few books to get you and your family started, I’ve put together a Conversation Starter Cheat Sheet for you to use to start a conversation. Depending on the age of your child – you can follow up as much or as little as feels right for you.