Picture Books To Inspire Gratitude

A growing list of picture books to inspire gratitude.

Be more mindful of your treasures with this growing book list.

Gratitude shines a spotlight on the abundance of love, of comforts, and of freedoms that surround us. Research shows that people who regularly express gratitude are happier and healthier than their counterparts, regardless of measurable wealth.

You may also want to browse our list of Chapter Books about Mindfulness and Gratitude.


Conversation Starters

  • Why is it so easy to forget the many things we are grateful for when we discover something new that we desperately want?

  • How can we remind ourselves to be satisfied with the good things already in our lives?

  • What if we woke up tomorrow and only had the things we expressed gratitude for today?

  • What is the difference between what you need and what you want?

  • Is it wrong to want something more when you have so much?

  • What would you do with a money tree if one appeared on your doorstep?

An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton
This whimsical book for any age child or adult reminds us of all we have to be grateful for. Wonderful illustrations.

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss
In signature Dr. Seuss style, this book is sure to help any child recognize their blessings and discover how gratitude can cheer up a bad day.

Grateful: A Song of Giving Things by Jon Bucchino
Including sheet music and a CD, this song-in-a-book invites readers to consider all they are thankful for in a peaceful, meditative way.

The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
Follow the greedy triangle to learn how wanting more and more and more can change your life in ways you might never expect. And reinforce those basic geometry skills along the way.

The Money Tree by Sarah Stewart
Miss McGillicuddy’s simple country routine continues throughout the year in spite of a very unusual tree growing in her yard.

No One But You by Douglas Wood
Take a close look at the astonishing, everyday wonders that make life beautiful. And consider how your own personal experiences, great and small, combine to make you absolutely unique.

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
A talented seamstress makes beautiful quilts for the poor and the homeless When the king who has everything decides he must have one of her creations, she tells him he must give away everything; then she will give him a quilt. In the process of shedding his many possessions, the king finds true happiness. No summary can do justice to the mesmerizing, fairy-tale quality of this beautiful tale.

The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood
In the soothing, inspiration style Douglas Wood is famous for, this book unlocks the secret of gratitude. Parents will look forward to spending time with this gentle book.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
“Want what you have” is the important lesson, brought to life by the magical, and somewhat alarming, adventures of Sylvester.

The Table Where Rich People Sit by Bryd Baylor
A young girl learns from her family that being rich is not just about material wealth.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
Especially great for your youngest readers, Todd Parr's bright and simple style gives kids a practical, and sometimes silly, way of talking about gratitude.

Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes
Explore gratitude through 16 beautiful poems sure to illuminate the power of saying thanks.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.
This book, about a boy who wants to fit in by owning a pair of trendy shoes, contains a powerful lesson about differentiating between wants and needs.

Too Much Noise by Ann McGovern
Gratitude versus “I want more” is simply a matter of perspective. This exceptionally simple story makes that clear. When the old man searching for silence is told to bring home a variety of barnyard animals, even the youngest child can see the folly in his quest

Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine
In this multicultural picture book, young Rosalinda sets out on a quest to heal her broken lemon tree and find the thief who hurt it. During her magical adventure, she learns the power of empathy, forgiveness, generosity, and gratitude.

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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

 

 

Picture Boooks to Celebrate Halloween

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Add heart to this spooky holiday.

What child (or child at heart) doesn't love the imaginative aspects of Halloween, a celebration of candy and costumes?

Of course, this Holiday lends itself to some difficult conversations, when young children observe costumes, advertisements, and television previews that may be beyond their emotional readiness. Some are just downright yucky. These books will help your child navigate this tricky season.


Conversation Starters

  • What is courage?

  • Does everyone get scared?

  • What should you do when you are afraid?

  • Can you imagine a situation when you could be very brave, like the character in your story? Color a picture or tell a story about your brave moment.

  • Why is it fun to dress up as someone or something else?

  • How can we help others during this fun, creative holiday?

Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter
There is nothing wrong with being shy or fearful. But even the most timid among us have the capacity for great bravery. Full of hilarious illustrations, this book is perfect for any cat lover or any kid looking to unlock his inner courage.

Zen Ghosts by Jon Muth
Reconnect with Addy, Michael, and Karl from Zen Shorts as they celebrate Halloween with their good friend Stillwater. A ghostly tale and Muth’s signature poetic prose set a wonderful tone in this story.

Tuesday by David Weisener
If you haven’t had a chance to fall in love with David Weisener’s work, now is the time, and this is the book! Though it may not be a Halloween book explicitly, the unexpected nocturnal flight of frogs sets a perfectly eerie, charmingly fantastical tone for the holiday. 

Stellaluna by Janel Cannon
Nothing sets a Halloween mood quite like bats. But this little tale of a lost baby bat and her attempt to fit in with a kindly bird family is fun in any season. Stellaluna’s adventures teach kids all about bats, and, even more importantly, all about how good friends can appreciate their differences.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
A witch and her cat are off on a moonlit broom ride when her hat is blown off into the darkness.  As they attempt to recover the witchy hat, they wind up taking on passengers, dodging a dragon, and solving their space conundrum with style! Axel Scheffler’s illustrations make the whole thing incredibly fun!

Beneath the Ghost Moon by Jane Yolen
This powerful lesson in forgiveness and courage is also a delightfully fanciful story. The dreaded creepie-crawlies nearly ruin the Halloween ball for all the excited mice. This adventure may inspire your own little mice to stage a Halloween dance party!

Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
Page by page the monster grows, until your little one is ready to show him who is boss. Then page by page, watch that monster disappear. This book is sure to vanish Halloween fears.

Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPuchio
Full of silliness and heart, this book is sure to put a positive spin on your Halloween antics.

Looking for a chapter book? Older children might also enjoy this:

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
In one of his few books for children, Bradbury brings kids on a ghostly time travel adventure to search for their lost friend and the meaning of Halloween. In the end, the boys in the story are courageous enough to make an important sacrifice to save their friend and get home again.

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Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

 

 

Chapter Books about Death & Grief

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Understand grief through great stories.

Stepping into a fictional world can have profound effects on our ability to understand and articulate our own emotions, fears, and hopes. The titles below will help your family approach the issue of death and grief with greater understanding.

You may also want to explore our collection of Picture Books about Death & Grief. This growing list is full of compassionate books that speak to people of every age.


Wondering how to approach a conversation about death and grief?

More titles coming soon!

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
This Newbery Medal-winning classic is filled with imagination as well as the untimely loss of a best friend. This exceptional story has guided readers through this painful experience of loss, grief, and acceptance for generations. 

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
Here's another long-standing classic. Charlotte teaches Wilber, and us, so much about friendship, hope, persistence, and ultimately, life and death.

The Five Lives of My Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin
This deceptively light-heated book features Oona, her brother Fred, and their ailing cat Zook. Oona and Fred are grieving for their father, who passed away a year before the action opens in the story. Laugh and cry with them on their journey to come to terms with the tumultuous cycles of life and death. 

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Aliso McGhee
This fantastical, epic story will captivate your whole family.  The story is told in alternate voices, one of Jules who is coming to terms with the loss of her sister, the other the shadow fox in the shadow land who is fast, just like Jules' sister.

Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
Rylant's book is a must-read gem, beautifully and painfully exploring the pain of missing someone. You'll join Summer and her Uncle Ob shortly after Aunt May has died. When Ob becomes obsessed with the idea that May's spirit is coming back to him, Summer and her oddball classmate Cletus go on a spiritual mission that changes all of them.

 Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Conor tries to cope with his mother's approaching death in this deeply emotional story. Deeply imaginative, readers will enjoy the stories within stories in compelling, page-turner of a book.

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Join eleven-year-old Suzy in the uncomfortable awkwardness of middle school as she tries to understand why her estranged best-friend died last summer. The ethereal world of jellyfish will captivate readers of every age. 


Please share your recommendations in the comments below. 

We realize the topics of death and grief are deeply entwined with personal spiritual beliefs, so feel free to share whatever speaks to you and your family. There are likely many others just like you who will be grateful for an additional resource.

Back to Read Together for more book lists...

Haven't found what you're looking for?
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Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

 

 

Picture Books about Death & Grief

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Find solace in healing words.

This tender subject is too often avoided -- that is, until it is unavoidable. When children have questions about death and grief, let's do our best to answer them honestly and compassionately. Here are a few beautiful books to help your family begin a conversation about death, grief, and the cycles of life.

You may also want to explore our collection of Chapter Books about Death and Grief.


Wondering how to approach a conversation about death and grief?

More titles coming soon!

Always Remember by Cece Meng
This poetic tale illustrates the role of memory in keeping our loved ones alive. The sea creatures are recalling their favorite moments with Old Turtle, and find comfort in the fact that he's not truly gone, as long as they have these memories.

Angel Catcher for Kids: A Journal to Help You Remember the Person You Loved Who Died by Amy Eldon
The simple prompts in this well-loved journal may help younger children explore and record their memories of their lost loved one.

Cry Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved
This simple, beautifully-told story from award-winning Danish author Glenn Ringtved, features death as a gentle houseguest. He then tells four children a story to help them understand grief, loss, and the importance of saying goodbye.

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: a story of Life for all Ages by Leo Buscaglia
This classic story is perfect, both simple and comforting. A little leaf named Freddie and his companion leaves change with the passing seasons, finally falling to the ground with winter's snow.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
Our hearts are connected by an invisible string, even when we can't see each other. This sweet book will reassure young children coping with separation or loss.

Ida, Always by Caron Levis
Based on two, beloved polar bears from the New York City Zoo, this book explores the loss of a good friend with great tenderness.

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryon Mellonie
"All around us, everywhere, beginnings and endings are going on all the time. With living in between." This is a book to fall in love with, a book to read even when death is not a major topic around the house.

The Next Place by Warren Hanson
This simple non-denominational poem beautifully expresses the release, relief, and freedom death might bring.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst
This book is on the secular end of the spectrum. The writing is beautiful, the story is simple, and both children and adults will find comfort in its pages.

Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children by Doris Stickney
This gracefully adapted fable features a water bug that changed into a dragonfly in order to explain death to a five-year-old. This book is more traditionally religious than The Next Place (see above). Children may be interested in the metaphor of the dragonfly larva, who live below the surface of the water, and their transformation into adult dragonflies, to illustrate the notion of someone going beyond our sight to a marvelous place.

Please share your recommendations in the comments below. 

We realize the topics of death and grief are deeply entwined with personal spiritual beliefs, so feel free to share whatever speaks to you and your family. There are likely many others just like you who will be grateful for an additional resource.

Back to Read Together for more book lists...

Haven't found what you're looking for?
Visit our Complete Resource List.

Or check out these projects to provide comfort.

Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

 

 

Big-Hearted Books of Poetry for the Whole Family

a growing list of picture book poetry from DoingGoodTogether.org

Explore big ideas through poetry.

Whether they are playful or introspective, poems offers a unique perspective on the world around us. Challenge kids - and yourself - to discover poetry that speaks to you. Then share it with others in magic mail designed to spread cheer and comfort.


Conversation Starters

  • What is poetry?

  • After reading a book of poetry, which poem was your favorite? Why?

  • Which poem did you find confusing? Let's see if we can make sense of it together.

  • Look for a poem that evokes a strong emotion in your child. Notice together how simple words in a relatively short poem can have such a strong impact.

  • Together find a poem you would enjoy sharing with someone who could use some comfort. Create a greeting card featuring this poem and share it.

A Light in the Attic and essentially everything written by Shel Silverstein.
Nothing else compares to the always silly, sometimes icky, and often deeper-than-they-appear poems by the incomparable Shel Silverstein.

All the Wild Wonders by Wendy Cooling
This collection of poetry features poets all around the world. It's designed to help students think critically about issues facing the environment and to encourage them to work toward a brighter future. 

A Poke in the I, A Kick in the Head, and A Foot in the Mouth, all by Paul B. Jeneczko
All three of these books explore poetry in unique ways. Even better, they subtlety call attention to important social issues or big-hearted ideas that are sure to spark creative conversations with your family.

Feathers by Eileen Spinelli
This collection is as lyrical and charming as its subject matter. Explore the bird world with creative, funny, and beautiful poems that just might inspire your to burst into song!

Food Fight: Poets Join the Fight Against Hunger with Poems to Favorite Food edited and illustrated by Michael J. Rosen
Thirty-three children’s poets contribute to the fight against hunger by penning poems about food. Read odes to pies, pizzas, and matzo ball soup.

If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky
This haiku collection is one part calming meditation, one part poetic gymnastics. This is a family favorite for our blogger!

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Joel Fleishman and Eric Beddows
This award-winning collection is especially fun with a proud new reader. Celebrate the boisterous cacophony of the natural world through poetry together.

Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems by Maryln Singer
Fairy tale scenes are re-imagined from two perspectives with a unique technique that you'll have to read to believe.

Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems by Kristine O'Connell George.
This inspiring collection of tree poems is one part meditation and one part playful exploration of our stately neighbors.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Yes, Silverstein is such a giant in children's poetry, he deserves at least two shout outs. This classic tale doubles as a poem, perfect for igniting big conversations about selflessness versus selfishness, feelings, phases of life, and what makes us feel content.

The Tree that Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination (A Poetry Speaks Experience) by Linda Winston, Mary Ann Hoberman, and Barbara Fortin.
This anthology of nature inspired poems is sure to inspire and engage your child with the outdoors in unexpected ways.

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Or check out these projects to heal the earth.


Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

Picture Books for a Citizen Scientist

Inspire curiosity and global connection.

New technologies have fueled a global push for citizen science, connecting curious individuals with researchers looking to gather and analyze vast quantities of new data.

Explore this fantastic collection of science-centric books and spark big ideas in your child.


Conversation Starters

  • What is citizen science?

  • Why do you think it might be a good idea to encourage everyday citizens to participate in science?

  • What could be a challenge or problem with having the public contribute to scientific research?

  • How do you think it might feel to participate in a global scientific endeavor?

  • What research would you do if you could?

  • What did you learn in this book? What surprised you?

  • What new questions do you have or what are you curious about as a result of reading this book?

Actual Size by Steve Jenkens
This wonderfully-illustrated book brings the wild world into vivid perspective.

Animalium: Welcome to the Museum by Jenny Broom
Take a trip to the world's most accessible natural museum and spend hours learning about the natural world with this incredible book.

A Passion for Elephants: The Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss by Toni Buzzeo
Set the stage for your own observations of nature with this excellent biography.

Citizen Science: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns
Get started with simple, flagship citizen science projects through Audubon, FrogWatch USA and more. 

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and A Hundred Sea Turtles by Phillipe Cousteau
Discover the incredible difference curious kids can make in the world. A little courage and perseverance and make big-hearted kids unstoppable!

If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David Smith
Grapple with big, hard-to-imagine ideas by scaling them down with clever metaphors brought to you by the same author who created If the World Were a Village.

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space by Dominic Walliman
Enjoy lessons on the cosmos from the world's smartest cat!

Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story by Anna Forrester
Spend exciting summer evenings with Jojo and her family, counting bats to help scientists studying white-nose syndrome.

Big Questions from Little People: And Simple Answers from Great Minds by Gemma Elwin Harris
Scientists, philosophers, and specialists weigh in on the weighty, perplexing questions curious grade-school kids are famous for.

Outdoor Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Experiments for the Yard, Garden, Playground, and Park by Liz Lee Heinecke
Part of the incredible Lab Series, this edition will inspire your whole family to bring science to your time outside.

What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
This beautiful book is perfect for people of all ages, all aspirations, and all phases of creative endeavor. How do you nurture an idea? You'll see!

Back to Read Together for more book lists...

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Or check out these projects and book lists to inspire your family to heal the Earth.

Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

 

 

Picture Books for Our Youngest Do Gooders

A growing list of books for our youngest do gooders.

Nurture roots of kindness in the heart of your little one.

Nothing is as comforting for a parent or child as snuggling in with a good book. We gathered our favorite, simple stories for young readers in a collection designed to inspire your young helpers to grow kind hearts.


Conversation Starters

  • How is the character in this story feeling? Have you ever felt this way?

  • Talk about a time when you faced a challenge or an adventure like the one in the story.

  • Together, look closely at the illustrations. Do you notice anything new?

  • Work together to draw or color a picture inspired by the story.

Bear Feels Sick and other Bear Books by Karma Wilson
These simple, rhyming stories cover topics from gratitude to fear to friendship.

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
In this culture nearly paralyzed by a fear of failure, we are hearing time and again that children aren't being allowed to make mistakes. This book is certainly part of the cure! Discover the beauty in a mistake, then set out to make a few of your own!

Books by Mem Fox
It's no wonder Fox has won dozens of awards. Each of her stories is unique. Each is bewitching in its own way. And each speaks to even the youngest among us.

Books by Todd Parr
Parr's entire collection is work checking out. He covers topics like peace, gratitude, and being different in a charming, bright, funny, and heart-felt way that speaks to people of every age.

The Color Monster: A Pop Up Book of Feelings by Anna Llenas
Under standing nuanced emotions is a crucial step to developing empathy. This fun, new book takes kids on a journey through a rainbow of emotions.

The Empty Pot by Demi
Simply told and beautifully illustrated, this story shares the beauty of telling the truth. Everyone wants to win the Emperor’s competition: the grower of the most beautiful flower will become the next emperor. But when one boy’s seed won’t sprout, he learns  that bravery and honesty are more important to becoming emperor than a dramatic presentation.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McLoud
I know this book pops up on every list. If you are wondering why, then perhaps you haven't read it in a while. The message is so clear and so motivating, even the youngest children will set out at once to fill buckets. Perhaps even more remarkable, even the oldest readers find it inspiring too!

Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell
This is another gem from the author of The Gift of Nothing and the comic series Mutts. Jules the kitten takes off on a mission to hug the world, teaching kids, and their parents, to start changing the world one small gift of kindness at a time.

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
This award-winning illustration of Aesop's much-loved fable gives kids the opportunity to tell their own story. Though wordless, the intricate details on each page will have kids and their grownups thinking about who can be a helper.

Red Cat, Blue Cat by Jenni Desmond
This vibrant, funny, simple story gently teaches the trouble caused by jealousy and the joys of self-acceptance and friendship.

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Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

Picture Books about Refugees

A growing list of books to build compassion and emathy for the refugee experience.

Open your hearts to the refugee experience.

With so many news stories about families fleeing Syria and other war-torn places, your children may be asking questions about these heartbreaking situations. It's hard to know what to say. It's important to protect our kids from traumatizing images and information, but we also want to encourage empathy for those who are struggling -- and, of course, to empower our children to know they can make a difference. These children's books will build understanding.

Conversation Starters

  • What would it be like to be forced to leave home suddenly? What would you pack if you had just a little time? What would you miss?
  • What could help make a refugee feel more comfortable and less scared in their new home?

  • With older children, explain what "refugee" means -- someone who is forced to flee their home because they fear they will lose their lives or freedom if they stay.

  • Together, imagine arriving in a new country without knowing the language or customs. Help your child "walk in the shoes" of a refugee child by asking:

    • What would it be like to have to leave home quickly and suddenly?

    • What would you pack if you had just a little time? (Many refugees leave their homes with little warning and cannot even bring basic necessities.)

    • What would you miss?

    • How would you feel?

    • What could help make a refugee feel more comfortable and less scared in their new home?

  • Always reassure children that they are safe, and focus on positive ways to make a difference rather than on despair.

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams
Based on true events, this touching tale follows orphaned boys walking from their war-ravaged village to a refugee camp. Ages 7 and up.

Calling the Water Drum by LaTisha Redding
After losing his parents in a tragic attempt to reach the United States from Haiti, Henri has retreated within himself. His uncle and a neighbor help Henri connect with his past by connecting to the beat of his own drum.

The Color of Home by Mary Hoffman 
The story of a recent immigrant from Somalia and his first day in an American school. The amazing watercolors help tell of this little boy's fears and hopes. Ages 4 and up.

Dia’s Story Cloth: The Hmong People’s Journey of Freedom by Dia Cha
The story cloth, Southeast Asian folk art, provides a beautiful back drop for this sweet story.  of Ages 6 to 11.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams
Two girls in a Pakistani refugee camp decide to share a pair of sandals given to them by a relief worker. A simple story of friendship. Ages 6 and up.

How many days to America? A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Bunting
A family is forced to flee their Caribbean island and set sail for America in a small fishing boat. They arrive on Thanksgiving Day, having experienced fears and hardships very similar to those faced by those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving. This is a very moving story sure to open a conversation about compassion and courage. Ages 4 to 7.

Joseph's Big Ride by Terry Farish
Follow Joseph, a new refugee, on his mission to learn to ride a bike. Ages 4 to 7.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna
Explore the impossible decisions people must make when leaving their homes behind. Ages 3-7.

Leaving Vietnam: The Journey of Tuan Ngo, a Boat Boy by Sarah S. Kilborne
Join Tuan Ngo and his father as they escape Vietnam by boat, spend time in a refugee camp and ultimately arrive in the United States. Ages 6 and up.

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat
Mama records bedtime stories for Saya to help her cope while Mama is in an immigration detention center. Ages 5 and up.

My Name is Sangoel by Karen Williams
Join this Sudanese refugee on as he attempts to find belonging in the new, noisy world of the United States. Ages 6 to 10.

Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Tanya Simon
Set in 1938, Oskar is a Jewish immigrant new to the U.S. Follow him as he walks through New York City experiencing small acts of kindness, making him feel welcome in his new home. Ages 4 to 8.

Stepping stones. A Refugee Family's Journey by Margaret Ruurs
This story about the Syrian refugee crisis began when Rurrs, a Canadian children's author, encountered the breathtaking stone art of Syrian artist Nizar Bdr. This dual language book is warm and beautiful in spite of its harsh subject matter. Ages 4 and up.

Teacup by Rebecca Young
The beautiful allegory is sure to become a family treasure, and it will speak to the difficult journeys that we all must face. Ages 4 to 8.

The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey by Louise Borden
This remarkable story is perfect for literature buffs of any age. Ages 7 and up.

The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland
A simple but eloquent story of a young Vietnamese girl who brings a lotus seed with her to America as a way to remember her homeland. Ages 6-9.

 

We at Doing Good Together are committed to expanding this list over time, and look forward to hearing your recommendations in the comments.

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Big-Hearted Story Collections that Inspire Compassion

Read and reflect as a family with these big-hearted literary collections.

Teach empathy and discover exceptional stories.

Literary compilations of stories and poems can be incredibly helpful. Keep one in the car for road trips or the unexpected traffic jam. Or toss one in your purse or diaper bag, to entertain weary little ones in the waiting room.

However you use them, your family will delight in the variety of the stories in these hand-picked collections.


Conversation Starters

  • How would you feel if you faced the situation in the story?

  • What would you do differently?

  • What does it mean to be wise? To have courage? To live generously?

  • How would we know if someone was having a bad day and may need a little extra kindness?

  • What are some safe and simple ways to share kindness with a stranger?

  • What acts of kindness have others shared with you recently? How did they make you feel?

  • Have you ever thought of doing a kind thing for a stranger, but decided not to out of nervousness? How could you overcome your shyness in the future?

Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for you to Read withYour Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire by Dharmachari Nagaraja
This book contains 20 modernized versions of ancient Buddhist stories. Most are full of whimsy and wonder, spurring on creative play, even as they teach about kindness, courage, and peace. Each story ends with a short restatement of the moral for reinforcement.

Children’s Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett
You may have read this classic as a child. Former secretary of education William Bennett shares stories, fables, and poem conveying virtues we all hope to share, including courage, compassion, and loyalty among many others. Some of the stories are very familiar (as in Aesop’s fables) others are quirky and new. One or two are somewhat dated, but on the whole, this is a wonderful book to read and discuss together.

Frederick and His Friends: Four Favorite Fables by Leo Lioni
Younger readers will love Frederick, the fieldmouse poet, and friends from the other tales, teaching friendship, courage, and speaking p.

I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children by Margaret Wright Edelman
This collection is exceptional with a wonderful combination of stories, poetry, and art. The works in this treasury do not simply teach and inspire. They are literary jewels, beautiful in and of themselves, making them a delight to sit down with your children to savor words so perfectly crafted.

James Herriot’s Treasury of Inspirational Stories for Children by James Herriot
The author of All Creatures Great and Small brings us eight heart-warming, occasionally heart-breaking tales. Little animal lovers will go nuts for these stories.  While morals and virtues are not so heavily emphasized in this collection,  the stories easily lend themselves to big-hearted discussions.

Kids' Random Acts of Kindness by Conari Press
This collection is sure to inspire your family’s next kindness activity. Nothing motivates kids – or adults – like a good example, which is exactly what these stories provide. While they may not be classic children’s literature, they will certainly spark the spirit of giving.

Tales of Wisdom and Wonder (with CD) by Hugh Lupton
The musical CD included with this collection makes it ideal for road trips or traffic jams, and it is sure to captivate your audience. This book features seven stories from a variety of cultures. They are expertly crafted, and perfect for reading aloud repeatedly to young children. As the title declares, there is a bit of wisdom in each tale to get a conversation started.

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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

Chapter Books to Fuel a Movement

A growing list of fiction and nonfiction for older kids interested in promoting social justice.

A growing list of fiction and nonfiction for older kids interested in promoting social justice.

Explore history and get motivated to champion equality.

The fiction and nonfiction books below will raise awareness about the history of the United States and the movements that are pushing us closer to equality. Scroll through our extensive list to find books on Civil Rights, Disability Rights, the LGBTQ Movement, Women's Rights, and the Native People's Movement.

Fascinating new research demonstrates that commitment to social justice is a skill that must be practiced and reinforced. By reading these books together, your family can launch a conversation to inspire you to champion equality.

There is significant overlap and interplay between the various movements. Whether you read deeply about a single issue or choose intriguing titles from each section, you'll be learning a great deal about the courage, hope, and compassion behind the legends of American history.

Conversation Starters

  • What does justice mean? What about injustice?

  • Discuss the injustices you learned about in the book. What surprises you?

  • Imagine how you would have felt as the main character.

  • Imagine how you would you have reacted if you had witnessed one of the scenarios or events in the book.

  • Can you relate this story to anything happening in our community – or our country – today?

  • What would social justice look like in our community? Our state? Our country?

  • What is difficult about discussing social justice? What can we do better?

  • Let's brainstorm actions we can take, inspired by this book, to make our community more just.

Choose a category or scroll the extensive list below.

Activism in General

Books for Elementary Students

Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World by Elizabeth Rusch
A series of inspiring stories of young people who have made a difference. These preteens and teens raised money for school supplies for needy children, testified against a ban on gay marriage, collected boxes of cereal for the hungry and initiated a variety of other community service and social action projects. Ages 8 and up.

Stand Up, Speak Out: A Book About Children’s Rights
An examination of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child through the drawings and writings of young people around the world. Ages 9-12.

Young Adult Books

Celebrate People’s History!: The Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution  edited by Josh MacPhee 
A visual history of revolutions in America. Each poster is paired with the historical background of the event. Ages 8 and up.

Peace Jam: A Billion Simple Acts of Peace by Ivan Suvanjieff
This inspiring book profiles Nobel Peace Laureates (such as the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu) and their work with teens in the Peace Jam movement, and provides tips on how the reader can get involved. Ages 12 and up.

I Will Make a Difference: Students Aspire to Inspire by Gary Martin Hayes and Adam Christopher Wear
In this inspiring collection, 35 students tell of how they plan to make a difference in the world, and how the steps that they take now and in the future will allow them to reach their full potential.

It’s Your World  If You Don’t Like It, Change It: Activism For Teenagers by Mikki Halpin
A guide for teenagers who wish to become activists, It’s Your World provides an overview of several topics, including animal rights, women’s rights, and civil liberties, and provides ideas for getting involved. Includes a list of additional resources. Ages 12 and up.

Photography as Activism: Images for Social Change by Michelle Bogre
Images can be used to bring attention to much-needed subjects.  An alternative to writing letters and protesting, photography and the pictures taken can have just as much of an impact on its audience.

Take Action: A Guide to Active Citizenship by Marc Kielburger and Craig Kielburger
Learn the practical tools you’ll need to take action on issues that matter, including raising funds and awareness, writing petitions, surveys and letters, using the media and holding meetings.

Civil Rights Movement

Books for Elementary Students

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Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
First published in 1951, Amos Fortune, Free Man is the story of a man who is captured and sold into slavery, but is eventually able to buy his own freedom and that of other slaves. Ages 10 and up.

Belle Teal by Ann M. Martin
The story of a little girl who stands up for her beliefs when her community is shaken by the controversy resulting from desegregation. Ages 9-12.

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
The story of Bud Caldwell, a young African-American boy growing up in 1930s Michigan who is on the run from abusive foster homes and is convinced that a famous stand-up bass player is his father. Ages 9-12.

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
The story of Elijah, the first free-born African-American in his Buxton, Canada settlement and his brave attempts to help free a group of slaves. Ages 9-12.

Frederick Douglass: Rising Up From Slavery by Frances E. Ruffin
Biography of the former slave who became one of the central figures of the abolitionist movement. Ages 9-12.

Freedom's Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen S. Levine
This series of compelling eye-witness accounts of key events in the civil rights movement share the perspective of children. Ages 10 and up.

The Friendship by Mildred D. Taylor
The Friendship is the story of the devastating effects of racism on the friendship of a white man and a black man in Mississippi in the 1930s. Ages 9-12.

Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry
Biography of the courageous woman who led over 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. Ages 9-12.

Iggie’s House by Judy Blume
When an African-American family movies into Winnie’s neighborhood, she must confront prejudice in her community. Ages 9-12.

The Jacket by Andrew Clements
A young boy learns about prejudice after wrongfully accusing an African-American boy of stealing his brother’s jacket. Ages 9-12.

Just Like Martin by Ossie Davis
Written by a famous Civil Rights activist, Ossie Davis’ story tells the tale of fourteen year-old Martin, who is a proud supporter of the Civil Rights Movement until his faith and dedication are shaken following the death of his friends. Ages 10 and up.

Little Rock Nine by Marshall Poe
Written in graphic novel form, Little Rock Nine is the story of two high school friends, one black and the other white, caught in the middle of the conflict surrounding desegregation of public schools. Ages 9-12.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt
When the town of Phippsburg, Maine threatens to turn nearby Malaga Island, settled by former slaves, into a tourist spot, Lizzie Bright and the minister’s son, Turner Buckminster, must join together to preserve her home. Ages 9-12.

Mississippi Bridge by Midred D. Taylor
Mississippi Bridge is a powerful and haunting story about the effects of racism and segregation on a town in Mississippi in the 1930s. Ages 9-12.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
The Newberry Award-winning story of Cassie Logan, a young girl living in Mississippi in the 1930s whose family must deal with poverty and racism. Ages 9-12.

Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins
Rosa Parks’ first-hand account of her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Ages 9-12.

The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
The story of Jesse Boller, a teenager who is kidnapped and forced to work on a slave ship and the horrors he witnesses there. Ages 9-12.

Sounder by William H. Armstrong
The classic story an African-American family affected by poverty and racism in the South, and their loyal dog, Sounder. Ages 9-12.

Students on Strike: Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Brown, and Me by John A. Stokes
Stokes, one of the students who took part in the strike at R.R. Moton High School in 1951 to protest separate schooling for blacks and whites, gives his own first-hand account of the Civil Rights Movement. Ages 9-12.

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
An account of the life of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American student at an all-white elementary school in New Orleans, as seen through her own eyes. Ages 9-12.

The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
When Kenny’s parents decide that his older, troublemaker brother, Byron, should be removed from the bad influences of the city for the summer, the family heads to Birmingham, Alabama, just in time to witness one of the most terrible incidents to occur in response to the Civil Rights Movement: the burning of the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church with four little girls inside. Ages 9-12.

Witness by Karen Hesse
When a small town in Vermont is infiltrated by the Ku Klux Klan, it is met with both support by some of the townspeople and trepidation by others. Told through the voices of both the victims and victimizers, the story shows how a small town can be gripped by prejudice, and how ultimately, the rights of the many overcome the hatred of the few. Ages 9-12.

Young Adult Books

A Good Time for Truth: Race in Minnesota by Sun Yung Shin.
Various Minnesota authors share their moving, impassioned perspectives about what life is like as a person of color in one of the whitest states in the nation. Ages 12 and up.

A Wreath for Emmet Till by Maryln Nelson
This collection of sonnets pays tribute to the fourteen-year-old lyched for whistling at a white woman. Ages 12 and up.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
An act of violence with an officer causes a basketball team, a school, and a town to take sides, forcing two boys, one black and one white, two grapple with modern racism. Ages 12 and up.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Written as a letter to his fifteen-year-old son, Coates' critically acclaimed, award-winning book beautifully advises “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.” Ages 14 and up.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
Nine months before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat, a fifteen-year-old girl fed up with the indignity of Jim Crow kept to her own bus seat. Unlike Parks, Colvin was shunned by her community for her actions. Undaunted, Colvin went on, just a year later, to be plaintiff in the landmark case that took down Jim Crow. This wonderful biography is a celebration of her determination.  Ages 12 and up.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
This timely, critically-acclaimed novel confronts the issues of uncertainty when a community wants to know exactly what happens when a young white man shoots a young black man. Ages 14 and up.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
From her teen years to her young life, Linda Brent struggled to survive at the height of slavery prior to the Civil War, even living in an attic for seven years to hide from her master. Based on Jacobs’ own personal experience. Ages 14 and up.

The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers
The Glory Field traces the history of one African-American family, the Lewises, all the way from the beginnings of slavery, through the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, to a family reunion in the 1990s. Ages 14 and up.

March: Books One, Two, and Three by John Lewis
This series of graphic novels by an icon of the civil rights movement details his personal experiences for a young, modern audience. Ages 14 and up.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The story of two children, Scout and Jem, and their father’s attempt to defend the honor of an African-American man who has been wrongfully accused of a serious crime. Ages 14 and up.

Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
The first-hand account of one of the nine black students who was part of the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Ages 12 and up.

We Troubled the Waters by Ntozake Shange
The inspiring collection of poems celebrates a wide range of famous and forgotten milestones in the civil rights movement. Ages 12 and up.

Disability Rights Movement

Books for Elementary Students

Deaf Child Crossing by Marlee Matlin
The earnest story of a growing friendship between a deaf child and a hearing child. Ages 8-12.

The Disability Rights Movement by Deborah Kent
A narrative history of the struggle for people with disabilities to be heard. Ages 9 and up

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
Two boys, a tough guy with a learning disability and genius in leg braces, forge a friendship and overcome a bully. (Ages 8-12).

Helen Keller by Margaret Davidson
The story of Helen Keller and her friendship with Annie Sullivan, the woman who taught Helen to read and speak. Ages 7-10.

Louis Braille: The Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind by Margaret Davidson
Biography of Louis Braille, a man who was born blind and went on to develop the Braille system of printing for the blind. Ages 7-10.

Looking After Louis by Lesly Ely
When Louis, a boy with autism, joins Miss Owlie’s class, his classmates are unsure of how to respond to him and think it’s unfair that he sometimes gets special treatment. However, through Miss Owlie’s encouragement, Louis’s class learns about sensitivity and how they can include Louis in their activities. Ages 7-10.

Petey by Ben Mikalesen
This story of friendship between an older man with cerebral palsy and an awkward teenager, this story illustrates how far we've come in the movement for equal rights. And it shows us just how strong the human spirit can be. Ages 9-12.

Wonder and Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories  by R. J. Palacio
The story of Auggie Pullman captured the attention of the world when it was first published in 2012. Auggie's unusual face and charming personality inspires an entire community to discuss what compassion, empathy, and kindness means in practice. Ages 8 and up.

Young Adult Books