I’ve been thinking a lot about how to teach gratitude to our children. If your kids are anything like mine, they can whine about the most miniscule and unimportant things – the shirt is red instead of blue, or they don’t like the homestyle waffles, they like the mini waffles – but how to teach them there are millions of homeless and starving children beyond showing them images of emaciated babies? How to teach them to be appreciative for all they have? While there are plenty of giveback opportunities for younger kids, there aren’t many shelters that let you volunteer under age 18. A pile of books on the bedside that teach our kiddos about homelessness, equality, food insecurity, kindness, and community is the best place to start. Below we’re including each book’s amazon description, so you can read about each book in one place, and order them prime in time for Thursday!
Here’s where we’ve started, let us know in the comments if we missed your favorite giveback teaching moment book:
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.
A little girl longs to see beyond the scary sights on the sidewalk and the angry scribbling in the halls of her building. When her teacher writes the word beautiful on the blackboard, the girl decides to look for something beautiful in her neighborhood. Her neighbors tell her about their own beautiful things. Miss Delphine serves her a “beautiful” fried fish sandwich at her diner. At Mr. Lee’s “beautiful” fruit store, he offers her an apple. Old Mr. Sims invites her to touch a smooth stone he always carries. Beautiful means “something that when you have it, your heart is happy,” the girl thinks. Her search for “something beautiful” leaves her feeling much happier. She has experienced the beauty of friendship and the power of hope.
When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering: What does it mean to be kind? From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend. With a gentle text from the award-winning author of Sophie’s Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller, and irresistible art from Jen Hill, Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.
Celebrate food and family with this heartwarming Thanksgiving picture book. We will share the risen bread. / Our made-with-love Thanksgiving spread. / Grateful to be warm and fed. / We will share the bread. In this spirited ode to the holiday, set at the turn of the twentieth century, a large family works together to make their special meal. Mama prepares the turkey, Daddy tends the fire, Sister kneads, and Brother bastes. Everyone—from Grandma and Grandpa to the littlest baby—has a special job to do. Told in spare, rhythmic verse and lively illustrations, Sharing the Bread is a perfect read-aloud to celebrate the Thanksgiving tradition.
The world can be a scary place. Anxious adults want children to be aware of dangers, but shouldn’t kids be aware of kindness too? Michael Leannah wrote Most People as an antidote to the scary words and images kids hear and see every day. Jennifer Morris’s emotive, diverting characters provide the perfect complement to Leannah’s words, leading us through the crowded streets of an urban day in the company of two pairs of siblings (one of color). We see what they see: the hulking dude with tattoos and chains assisting an elderly lady onto the bus; the Goth teenager with piercings and purple Mohawk returning a lost wallet to its owner; and the myriad interactions of daily existence, most of them well intended. Most People is a courageous, constructive response to the dystopian world of the news media.
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature – WINNER OF A CORETTA SCOTT KING HONOR AND THE JANE ADDAMS PEACE AWARD! Each kindness makes the world a little better. This unforgettable book is written and illustrated by the award-winning team that created The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor winner Coming On Home Soon. With its powerful anti-bullying message and striking art, it will resonate with readers long after they’ve put it down. Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.
A homeless boy who lives in an airport with his father, moving from terminal to terminal trying not to be noticed, is given hope when a trapped bird finally finds its freedom.
With humor and warmth, this children’s picture book raises awareness about poverty and hunger. Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia’s fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi’s house is empty. Sofia learns that Maddi’s family doesn’t have enough money to fill their fridge and promises Maddi she’ll keep this discovery a secret. But because Sofia wants to help her friend, she’s faced with a difficult decision: to keep her promise or tell her parents about Maddi’s empty fridge. Filled with colorful artwork, this storybook addresses issues of poverty with honesty and sensitivity while instilling important lessons in friendship, empathy, trust, and helping others. A call to action section, with six effective ways for children to help fight hunger and information on antihunger groups, is also included.
A little girl and her parents have lost their home and must live in a homeless shelter. Even worse, due to a common shelter policy, her dad must live in a men’s shelter, separated from her and her mom. Despite these circumstances, the family still finds time to be together. They meet at the park to play hide-and-seek, slide on slides, and pet puppies. While the young girl wishes for better days when her family is together again under a roof of their very own, she continues to remind herself that they’re still a family even in times of separation.
She is “invisible” to everyone around her…except one boy. Homelessness is a problem that is both very visible and, in many ways, invisible. I See You is a wordless picture book that depicts a homeless woman who is not seen by everyone around her — except for a little boy. Over the course of a year, the boy is witness to all that she endures. Ultimately, in a gesture of compassion, the boy acknowledges her in an exchange in which he sees her and she experiences being seen. In a Note for Parents, Educators, and Neighbors there are discussion questions and additional resources about helping the homeless. Open the door for kids and parents to begin a conversation about homelessness.
“A boy wonders about the people he sees on his city’s streets until he goes to the soup kitchen where his uncle works. The varied needs of the individuals there become clear to the young narrator. The watercolors use earthtones and careful detail to illustrate aptly the warm, friendly story,” according to The Horn Book. Recommended as a resource for teachers and librarians to build a connection with their local community and the school, as well as a way for any adult to help foster a conversation and respond to a child’s natural curiosity.
This simple, touching picture book shows readers a women’s shelter through the eyes of a young girl, who with her mothers help, uses her imagination to overcome her anxiety and adjust. Includes factual endnotes detailing various reasons people experience homelessness and the resources available to help.
Missy loves Saturdays with her dad. Every week they do something special together. Usually, Dad brings the funds and Missy brings the fun, but this week, it’s Missy’s turn to treat with her own allowance―until she and her dad stop for pizza, and Missy discovers a special way to do a mitzvah.
Day breaks over the town. Get up, everybody! It’s time to go to school. For the old man too, it’s time to wake up. The night was icy and he’s hungry. His name? He doesn’t know . . . This is the story of a person with no job, no family, no home―a nobody, who can’t even remember what he was once named. But his day changes when he is noticed by a child. Drawn in soft, watercolor pencil, this is an important story for our times. This gentle, compelling book will appeal to a child’s sense of justice and to every reader’s compassion.
Zettie and her Mama left their warm and comfortable home in Jamaica for an uncertain life in the United Sates. With Papa gone, Mama can’t find a steady job that will sustain them and so they are forced to live in their car. But Mama’s unwavering love, support, and gutsy determination give Zettie the confidence that, together, she and her mother can meet all challenges.Monica Gunning’s moving and authentic story about homelessness in an American city was developed with the help of the Homeless Childrens Network in San Francisco. Elaine Pedlar’s strong and lively illustrations bring the story to life in vibrant chalk pastel.
All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.
“Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.”―Socrates (the Greek philosopher), circa 470-399 B.C. Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are Otters.
OTTERS! But he doesn’t know anything about otters. Will they get along? Will they be friends? Just treat otters the same way you’d like them to treat you, advises Mr. Owl. In her smart, playful style Laurie Keller highlights how to be a good friend and neighbor―simply follow the Golden Rule! This title has Common Core connections Do Unto Otters is a 2008 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.
If you drop just one soda can out the window, it’s no big deal … right? But what if everybody did that? What if everybody broke the rules … and spoke during story time, didn’t wash up, or splashed too much at the pool? Then the world would be a mess. But what if everybody obeyed the rules so that the world would become a better place? Using humorous illustrations rendered in mixed media, these questions are answered in a child-friendly way and show the consequences of thoughtless behavior.
How can Ralph be so mean? Lucy is one of a kind and Ralph loves to point that out. Lucy’s defining moment comes when Ralph truly needs help. Because she knows what she stands for, Lucy has the courage to make a good choice. This charming story empowers children to always do the right thing and be proud of themselves, even when they are faced with someone as challenging as Ralph.
Counting on Community is Innosanto Nagara’s follow-up to his hit ABC book, A is for Activist. Counting up from one stuffed piñata to ten hefty hens–and always counting on each other–children are encouraged to recognize the value of their community, the joys inherent in healthy eco-friendly activities, and the agency they posses to make change. A broad and inspiring vision of diversity is told through stories in words and pictures. And of course, there is a duck to find on every page!