Forgiveness can be hard.

We all have this tendency to our hurt and carry it around like a weight in a backpack. We just keep piling in those hurts, until we bend and break beneath the weight of our bitterness. Even as adults, this is something we’re prone to do. No matter how we try, forgiveness doesn’t seem to be our natural instinct.

Imagine how difficult it must be for our kids. They’re just learning to grapple with the emotions associated with hurt. Friends can be fickle. Hurt people hurt people. And our kids are left aching from the hurt yet unable to process what they’re feeling and find the path towards forgiveness.

As parents, we try and help them see how forgiveness will free them from the additional hurt that comes along with holding a grudge.

Related Post: Forgiveness Rocks

But kids are often too close to the situation to see any other option than letting the bitterness sink in making way for revenge to take over. And so, our words fail us and we need some help.

Thankfully, we have stories. Stories over time give us a perspective on life we can’t see on our own. Forgiveness is one of those areas where stories can offer a perspective for you and your kids to discover a pathway out of the pain to find a place where you can let go of that bitterness backpack you’ve been carrying around.

Here are several ideas for where to start with stories that teach the idea of forgiveness, check these out:

Preschool/Lower Elementary

I Love My New Toy! – Mo Willems
No, David!- David Shannon
We All Need Forgiveness – Mercer Mayer
Will You Forgive Me?– Sally Grindley and Penn Dan
The Berenstain Bears and the Forgiving Tree – Jan and Mike Berenstain
The Forgiveness Garden – Lauren Thompson and Christy Hale
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse – Kevin Henkes
I Am Extremely Absolutely Boiling – Luren Child (Charlie and Lola Book)
Enemy Pie – Derek Munson

Upper Elementary/Middle School

Meaniehead – Bruce Eric Kaplan
The Lemonade Crime – Jacqueline Davies
The Hundred Dresses – Eleanor Estes
Shiloh Season – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Year the Swallows Came Early– Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Birthdays – Wendy Mass

High School

Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Boom
The Shack– Wm. Paul Young
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

For more on why kids need fiction, listen in on the conversation I had with Kristen Ivy on Parent Cue Live. You’ll also find a free list of movies to watch with your kids broken down by age group in the show notes.