Thursday, March 7, 2013

Great Picture Books for (helping) Others

This topic could really fall under the theme of Kindness or Cooperation, but it is just so important to emphasize this at a young age that it can only help more to follow up with books about helping others.  Children don't always understand or yet grasp what is right and what is wrong, but they can understand how nice it feels to help others.  Even if it is just helping those in your everyday life or reaching out to people in your community.

The Lion and the Mouse 
by Jerry Pinkney
A wordless picture book with gorgeous artwork of the African Savannah in this wonderful retelling of a classic fable.  This is one of our favorite books.  The kids can "read" it to us and the story and illustrations are just magical.

The Little Red Hen
Really any true version of this story is fantastic.  Right now my kids' favorite incarnation is a free iPad app book from Mindshapes. I also wrote on the Cooperation theme about The Little Red Pen, which is a fun newer version of this timeless tale.  The Little Red Pen replaces the farm animals with office supplies, but my oldest adores this book so much that he reenacted the book with our very own Pen, Stapler, Ruler, etc.

The Three Questions 
by Jon J. Muth
A retelling of an old Tolstoy fable that has a special place in my heart.  It was part of a children's theatre piece that I directed in Italy.  It is a fantastic philosophical story.  The very young can't really grasp the concept, but the kids adore the animals and some of the overall message of helping someone.  

Horton Hears a Who
by Dr. Seuss
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!  We have been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss in the past week and this particular book incites some great conversations with your kids.  Horton believes that there are living beings on a speck, but few others believe.  He goes to great lengths to help the Who's.  

The Little Engine That Could
by Watty Piper
A wonderful classic and I am certainly partial to the original edition from Watty Piper as that is what I grew up with.  The new print with illustrations by Loreen Long is a whimsical update.  I think I can.... I think I can...

And oddly enough three "Tree" books!  When I narrowed down my list, these three made the top and all had very similar titles.  

The Mitten Tree 

by Candace Christiansen
A woman knits mittens for a young boy who has none, but this is only the beginning of a beautiful story that inspires us to help others.

The Giving Tree 

by Shel Silverstein
A boy/man on his journey of life and how a tree selflessly helps him in times of need.

The Night Tree 

by Eve Bunting
A bit dated, perhaps, but a cute story to share at the holidays each year.  Most children have a difficult time seeing past the receiving of the holiday spirit.  This book can motivate us to have our own family holiday traditions of giving.  

We love new books at our house - if you love any literature on this topic that didn't make my list, please do share!


  1. I love these selections and have bookmarked them to check out for my kids. thank you!

  2. I read your post and I really like it, Thanks for sharing this awesome post...

    story on helping others
    touching stories of kindness