7 Books That Help Children Learn to Say “I’m Sorry”

“I’m sorry” — two short, simple words, but often among the hardest things to say. It’s not just about saying the words when you’ve done something wrong, but really meaning them and resolving to change your ways. Although it’s not easy to think about the “unfriendly things” you’ve done, owning up to your mistakes makes it easier to fix them. Whether you made fun of someone, got upset at someone, excluded someone, or broke your promise, those two little words — “I’m sorry” — can begin to mend things and begin the new year on the right foot. Sometimes it’s hard to say “I forgive you,” too. But fixing relationships is always a two-way street. Forgiveness makes good friendships even stronger.

Related: Books That Help Children Understand Forgiveness

In addition to modeling apologies for our kids, picture books are also a great way to help young children understand how – and when – to apologize. As you get ready for the High Holidays, read through one of the books below with your family.

Are We Still Friends

Are We Still Friends by Ruth Horowitz

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

Beatrice and Abel are the finest of friends -- until a misunderstanding gets in the way. How will they reconcile in time for a fresh start in the new year? Every young child (and many grownups!) will relate to this dilemma.

The Hardest Word

The Hardest Word by Jacqueline Jules

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

The Ziz, a clumsy and big-hearted bird, asks God for advice after accidentally destroying a vegetable garden. From this, Ziz learns the importance of an apology.

Jackie and Jesse and Joni and Jae

Jackie and Jesse and Joni and Jae by Chris Barash

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

Jackie and Jesse and Joni and Jae are really good friends! Sometimes, however, they’re not their best selves. On Rosh Hashanah, when they perform the ritual of tashlich, each of these four children takes a moment to consider ways they could have been better friends in the past year, and set goals to make the coming year the best yet.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

Lilly loves her purse -- but when she disrupts class with it, her teacher has to take it away for a while. Lilly doesn't react so well... and soon she's going to have to learn how to say two of the most important words: "I'm sorry."

Oh No, George!

Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

George is a dog who means well. He really does. But he keeps making mistakes. Soon George learns how to take responsibility for his behavior, make amends, and try to do better the next time.

Picnic at Camp Shalom

Picnic at Camp Shalom by Jacqueline Jules

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

When Carly laughs at Sara’s last name, her bunkmate at Camp Shalom refuses to be consoled. Little does Sara know that Carly has a reason for her outburst. When their mutual love of music brings harmony to Shabbat dinner as well as to their friendship, Carly finally gets the chance to reveal her secret.

The Way Meat Loves Salt

The Way Meat Loves Salt by Nina Jaffe

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

In this Cinderella-like Jewish tale, a rabbi’s youngest daughter is banished from her home, but with help from the prophet Elijah, she is reunited with her family.



Find more resources to help kids learn about Yom Kippur on the PJ Library Yom Kippur hub.