Picture Books

Inspire Nature Lovers with This Growing List of Picture Books

a growing list of picture books io inspire recycling, protection of wlderness areas, and environmental advocacy

Encourage the next generation of outdoor adventurers with these fun stories.

Nothing inspires wonder, cultivates mindfulness, and relieves stress as effectively and enjoyably as time spent in nature. Inspire the wilderness enthusiast in your child with this growing list of stories.


Talk about the issue.

  • Name three things that you love to do outside?

  • Where are your favorite outdoor spaces?

  • Are their any outdoor adventures you hope to have some time in the future?

  • What creature do you wish you could see in the wild?

  • What can your family do to help take care of your favorite natural areas?

  • What can your family do to reduce waste in your home?

Featured Title

The Littlest Gardener by Emily Hughes
Through gorgeous illustrations and elegant text, Hughes introduces us to the hopes and frustrations of the littlest gardener. There is so much to love in this little story and it's fairy-tale-style celebration of persistence, team work, and - of course - tending nature.


Additional DGT Favorites

A Place to Grow by Stephanie Bloom
Destined to be your next favorite book, and favorite book to give others, A Place to Grow reminds us all to appreciate our unique gifts. The joyous illustrations by Kelly Murphy will inspire your inner gardener to get planting!

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky by Susan Jeffers.
Adapted from a speech supposedly made by the American Indian Chief Seattle, Brother Eagle, Sister Sky encourages reverence for the land and environment.

Canoe Days by Gary Paulsen.  
Enjoy the peace and pleasure of a summer day in this poetic, beautifully illustrated, and fully transportable canoe trip.

Everglades by Jean Craighead George and Wendell Mior.
A storyteller describes the Florida Everglades as he guides children though this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. Minor’s paintings depict the beauty of this home to alligators and egrets.

Fairy House by Tracy Kane.
Bring the joy of imaginative play to your outdoor experiences with this wonderful story. Join Kristin as she builds a fairy house in the woods, and follow her dream-like adventures with the fairies. Then build  your own fairy houses using the instructions in the book, and adding to them with your own imagination and natural treasures. It's a great alternative to screen time!

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. This book is perfect for anyone creating and sharing homemade bird feeders.

Fire Flies! by Julie Brinkloe.
Discover the magic of fireflies on a summer night, and learn to respect the freedom wild things deserve. This is a perfect companion for a summer camping trip, along with a bug net!

The Forest Has Eyes by Elise Maclay.
Have fun with this lushly drawn “camouflage art,” with pictures hidden within. Learn about Native American culture, their reverence for the land and the animals that inhabit the forests.

Fun with Nature and More Fun with Nature (Take Along Guides) both by Mel Boring, Diane Burns, and Leslie Dendy.
Kids will love learning about the most common creatures, tracks, and trees they're likely to encounter in North America. These books will turn every trip to the park into a scavenger hunt!

John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall by Julie Danneberg.
This exciting story from the life of renowned naturalist and environmental advocate John Muir is rich with history as well as natural wonders.

Maxwell's Mountain by Sheri Becker.
This story is perfect for young readers who want to lead their own nature expedition. Maxwell learns the rules that keep hikers safe as he trains to tackle the "mountain" at his local park.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. 
With few words and magical illustrations, this book places you in the chilled quiet of a winter night and the magical intimacy with nature that's possible in this silent world.

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 Raft by Jim LaMarche.
Follow along with Nicky's adventure in the Wisconsin woods. Nicky's summer with his raft, and his grandmother, opens him up to the natural world as well as his own artistic inclinations. The tone and the illustrations pull you in to this mesmerizing tale.

Two Old Potatoes and Me by John Coy
Discover the wonder of a first-time gardener in this charming story about family, patience, and change. Can two old, sprouted potatoes really turn into something new?

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.

The Story of the Blue Planet by Andri Snaer Magneson.
This delightfully unique story is sure to spur conversations with your child and challenge your whole family to enjoy the simple pleasures of nature to the fullest.

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 simple projects to protect 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 to Celebrate Winter Holidays

An evolving list of picture books celebrating winter holidays

Cozy up with compassionate holiday tales.

The spirit of wonder, hope, and generosity in each story below helps us see clearly that people everywhere have so much in common, even amid our beautiful differences.


Conversation Starters

  • What did the holidays look like in your grandparents' homes when they were children? What did the holidays look like in your parents' homes when they were children? How did some of the favorite holiday traditions get started in your family?

  • What would your holiday be like if you didn’t receive any presents?

  • What would it feel like to receive holiday gifts from a stranger instead of family and friends?

  • What kind gestures have others done for you over the holidays?

  • What are some ways you can show others you care during the holidays?

A Hanukkah with Mazel Joel Edward Stein
Misha, a lonely artist, befriends a cat, Mazel. He works to make Hanukkah special for his new friend. Though they have very little, young readers will learn that holidays can be very special with the simplest gifts and a little creativity. Ages 3 to 8.

 

A World of Christmas Cookies: Follow Santa's Tasty Trip Around the World by M. E. Furman
Featuring delicious recipes from around the world, this creative story will add flavor and global appreciation to your holiday. Ages 4 to 8.

 

A Winter Candle by Jeron Ashford
Residents of one apartment building are each celebrating family traditions during the holidays. One by one, each family discovers they are missing an important part of their holiday - a candle. This lovely story follows the candle as it is passed from family to family, lighting a gatherings for the Sabbath, Saint Lucia Day, Kwanzaa, and others. Ages 5 to 11.

 

December by Eve Bunting
Simon and his mom don’t have much–the cardboard house they built for themselves, a tiny Christmas tree, and a picture of an angel on the wall. On Christmas Eve they take in a frail stranger who needs a place to keep warm, and the next morning Simon wakes early to find that the woman has vanished. Instead, he sees the angel from the picture, with her wings fanned out over their cardboard house. Could she be real?

 

Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Rich Simon and Tanya Simon
Set in 1938, Oskar is a Jewish immigrant new to the U.S. Follow him as he walks through New York City on the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve. Along the way, he takes in New York landmarks and experiences small acts of kindness from many strangers, making him feel welcome in his new home. Ages 4 to 8.

 

The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell
What do you get for the friend who has everything? Nothing, of course! Patrick McDonnell’s The Gift of Nothing is the light-hearted tale of one dog’s quest to find just the right nothing to give his special friend. Ages 4 to 8.

 

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 beautifully illustrated tale. Ages 4 to 8.

 

The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco
This story featuring the joy of giving is told with the incomparable sensitivity and bewitching style of all Polacco's books. Young Trisha and her family are preparing for Hanukkah when they learn that their Christian neighbors are coping with a scarlet fever epidemic. Unable to celebrate while their neighbors are suffering, Trisha’s family reaches out to help. Ages 5 to 10.

 

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
This is one of the sweetest, most elegant books of the season. Great Joy is the tale of an organ grinder, his monkey, and the little girl who worries over whether he has a place to go in the storm. Ages 4 to 8.

 

Gus and Grandpa and the Christmas Cookies by Claudia Mills
When Gus goes to Grandpa’s house to bake Christmas cookies, they discover that they don’t have any sprinkles. On the way to the store, they pass a Santa collecting money for the poor. Gus contributes two quarters and is rewarded with a “God bless you.” Returning home, Gus and Grandpa are visited by three neighbors, each bringing two dozen cookies. What are they to do with so many cookies? Gus knows! Ages 5 to 8.

 

Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Ziefert
Celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah with a haiku for each night and a clever, beautifully design book that is lovely to read again and again. Ages 4 to 8.

 

Lights for Gita by Rachna Gilmore
Young Gita is excited to celebrate her favorite holiday for the first time after her family immigrated from India: Divali, a festival of lights. But when Gita's plans fall apart, Gita gets very homesick. With the help of family and friends, Gita discovers that she carries the light of Diwali inside her wherever she goes. Ages 5 to 8.

 

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis
This charming fable introduces readers to the seven principles of Kwazaa and life lessons everyone can appreciate.

 

The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer
Learn about the way various cultures throughout history have observed the Winter Solstice.

 

Walk this World at Christmastime by Big Picture Press & Debbie Powell
This beautifully illustrated lift-the-flap book takes children on a tour of Christmastime around the world, as well as other winter holidays that bring families together.

 

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

Or check out these ideas for sharing kindness this holiday season.

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.

Discuss Every Story with Printable Conversation Cards

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Turn story time into a family book club!

Making time and space to read together is the simplest, most effective way to nurture compassion.

A good book invites you to see the world from another point of view, which is key to strengthening your whole family's empathy muscles. You can  deepen this impact by asking a question or two after each story. If you follow your children's lead and encourage them to think deeply - at every age - about the world in your story, a beautiful thing will happen.

You'll find almost any book will start a big-hearted, empathy-building conversation.

 Some days, this may lead to a super-silly “what if” conversation. Other days, you may find yourself answering big questions about hunger or hurt or loneliness. 

Encourage this reflection. Follow their lead. And enjoy these thoughtful, mindful family moments.


Make it a habit to ask a question or two after every story time. If you follow your child’s lead and encourage them to think deeply - at every age - about the world in your story, a beautiful thing will happen. You’ll find almost any book will start a big-hearted, empathy-building conversation.
— Sarah Aadland, Doing Good Together™

Conversation Starters

  • Did you enjoy this book? Why or why not?

  • What challenge was the main character facing? How would you have reacted in that situation?

  • How did the main character(s) feel at key moments throughout the book? How would you have felt at each of those moments?

  • What do you think about how the main character faced the main conflict? What else could he or she have done?

  • Imagine how this story might be different if it were set in a different culture or time?

  • Do you know anyone in real life who reminds you of a character in this story? Who and in what way?

  • What would you change about this story if you were the author? Let's take a moment to imagine that story. 

  • Does this story remind you of any other stories you've read? How are they the same? Which story did you enjoy more? Why?

Browse Doing Good Together's most recent favorites.

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Haven't found what you're looking for?
Go back to Read Together for more book lists.
Or visit our Complete Resource List.

Or check adopt your next big-hearted holiday tradition
with one of these projects.

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 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.

Back to Read Together for more book lists...

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

Or check adopt your next big-hearted holiday tradition
with one of these projects.

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 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.

Back to Read Together for more book lists...

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

Or check adopt your next big-hearted holiday tradition
with one of these projects.

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.Lend a Hand

Lend a Hand: Poems about Giving by John Frank.
So much good is captured in the pages of this book. Kind acts of children are captured in the thoughtful, observant way only poetry can accomplish. 

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.

Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox
A group of neighborhood kids discover peace in the beautiful world around them. This poetic book will open  your eyes to the world around you. 

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.

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 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!

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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.

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

Or check out these projects to inspire your next act of kindness.


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 that Nurture Emotional Awareness

An evolving list of picture books teaching emotional awareness and empathy, including books about anger, fear, anxiety, jealousy, resilliance, and more!

Explore strong emotions through story.

Research tells us that children who understand emotions are more likely to act kindly toward others. Encourage this by reading these amazing stories and completing the unique workbooks listed below.


Conversation Starters

  • Why is it helpful to recognize and talk about our feelings?

  • How can talking about feelings help us be more understanding of others?

  • Can you tell about a time when you’ve felt surprised, happy, angry, nervous, etc.?

  • Make a list of the emotions each family member experienced throughout the day, along with the events that accompanied them. Discuss what you have learned from your list.

  • How do you think you would feel if [a character's experience or a classmate's experience] happened to you?

  • What helps you calm down when you are experiencing strong emotions? Put together a "calm down box" by filling a shoe box with a few things that make you feel better (a special book, a small stuffed animal, your favorite figurine etc).

Books about General Emotions

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr
These simple, colorful illustrations of basic emotions will have your child exploring nuanced feelings through mimicry.

Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book About Feelings by Ed Emberly
Let Ed Emberly's brightly illustrated monsters help your young child explore strong emotions. You'll enjoy the cut-out masks that allow your child to "try on" different emotions.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
This book describes the moods of our days in true Dr. Seuss fashion – silly, simple and imaginative.

Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods that Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
Like Dr. Seuss's My Many Colored Days, this story is as enjoyable to read as it is emotionally enlightening.

There Are No Animals in This Book (Only Feelings) by Chani Sanchez
Remarkable contemporary artwork is paired with charming, highly-re-readable language to create a one-of-a-kind gem of a book.

Understanding Myself: A Kid's Guide to Intense Emotions ad Strong Feelings by Mary C. Lamia
The stories, quizzes, and fact boxes in this book help older kids understand and develop coping skills for strong emotions.

Books about Anger

Crabby Pants by Julie Gassman
This hilarious story will have young readers laughing out loud even as they discover how shallow, fleeting, and silly crabbiness can be.

Curious George (assorted titles) by H. A. Ray
George's adventures inevitably lead to a bit of trouble. These classic stories provide the perfect opportunity to discuss why adults sometimes get angry - often because we worry about the safety of our children when they break important rules.

Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox
Children and parents alike will recognize themselves is Mem Fox's classic story. The well-meaning but accident-prone child. The parent straining to be remain calm. The all-too-human boiling point. And the loving conclusion that provides an elegant reminder: even when family members are angry or embarrassed or sorry, we still love each other.

Sometimes I'm a Bombaloo by Rachel Vail
Let's be honest, tantrums sometimes happen. This book offers smart, funny insight into what happens when one child becomes – as she puts it – a bombaloo.

What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anger by Dawn Heubner
This creative workbook teaches children and their parents practical tools for managing, redirecting, and diffusing strong feelings of anger.

Books about Jealousy

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Have you ever longed for the latest trend? Have you ever been told they are too expensive. This story will help families discuss the difference between want and need. Plus this powerful story of friendship and family is sure to inspire compassion.

Percy and Tum Tum: A Tale of Two Dogs by Jen Hill
When the new dog moves to town, launches new trends, and enchants the neighborhood, Percy can't help but feel jealous. The colorful illustrations and clever humor are sure to make this story a family classic.

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.

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
The second story in this classic collection features Gertrude McFuzz, of Seussical the Musical fame. Gertrude desperately wants a glamorous tail, bigger even than La-La Lee Lou. Though she goes through great lengths to enhance her own tail, in the end she comes to appreciate her own.

Books about Fear & Anxiety

Lilly's Purple Purse by Keven Henkes
The clever author of Chrysanthemum and other childhood classics gives children a dose of calming perspective: "Today was a hard day. Tomorrow will be better."

Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett
Using humor, multi-media design, and grandiose language, this little book does an elegant job of encouraging young readers to face their fears through storytelling and journaling.

"The Old Woman Who Was Not Afraid." Grandmother Stories:  Wise Woman Stories from Around the World by Burleigh Muten
This story, tucked inside a beautiful anthology of "wise woman" fairy tales, gives children a mantra: "I will not be afraid. I will think of something." Though her tale is somewhat frightening, her bravery and self-reliance will inspire readers of every age.

The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm by LaVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo
This tale within a tale helps children - especially children who have experienced a traumatic storm or loss - cope with big fears. The rhyming verse and engaging illustrations draws readers right into rhinos world, where a storm has upended his home. The description of the Rhino's inner turmoil after "swallowing the storm" is recognizable to every child who has experienced fear and worry. In the end, focusing on the helpers and on hope helps the rhino release his storm.

The Scariest Thing of All by by Debi Gliori
Little Pip the rabbit keeps a list of the things he's afraid of, and that list is unbelievably long. When he gets lost in the woods, Pip must confront the scariest thing of all, and he finds an inner fierceness he never knew he had.

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Hueber.
Techniques, examples and activities to get kids thinking about how to handle their worrying.

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
The clever author of Chrysanthemum and other childhood classics brings his talent to the challenging issue of childhood anxiety over the first days of school.

Wilma Jean, Worry Machine by Juila Cook
This humorous book offers practical tools for helping children understand the source of anxiety and how to cope with it.

Books about Loneliness

An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant
Lonely Solomon wanders into "The Westway Cafe - Where All Your Dreams Come True" and finds himself sharing his wishes, along with his orders, with the waitress - Angel.

The Invisible Boy by Tracy Ludwig
This charming story will inspire every reader who has ever felt invisible (hint: that's everyone at some time or another!).

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Moving to a new city can be a lonely experience, but Lydia hasn't come alone. She's packed a suitcase full of garden seeds and enough grit to make the best of a tough transition.

The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
She names her car, her house, her big, comfy chair, but she will not name the shy, brown puppy that visits her front gate each day. This beautiful tale gives us insight into how lonely aging friends and family members might feel, and it just might inspire your family to reach out to a senior in your life.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
This story about a sweet country cottage consumed by the big city is surprisingly good at conveying loneliness and nostalgia. This is a heart-warming classic you won't want to miss.

Books about Resilience and Grit

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat
This charming story will captivate your whole family, even as it soothes anxieties and reminds us all that we have the ability to overcome whatever obstacles we face. This book is sure to be an award-winner this year!

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
This incredible, modern fable features a young hero named Liam who is just curious and adventurous enough to change the world.

Flight School  by Lita Judge
A young penguin believes he has "the soul of an eagle," but he's having trouble getting off the ground. His plucky perseverance, and a little help make his dreams a reality.

Growing up with a Bucket Full of Happiness: Three Rules for a Happier Life by Carol McCloud
From the brilliant author of Have You Filled a Bucket Today, this book takes the bucket-filling concept one step further. Did you know your bucket has a lid? And you can use your lid to protect yourself from bucket dippers, to preserve your reservoir of good thoughts and feelings, and to nurture your own resilience?

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Have you ever set out to make something magnificent? Have you ever had a vision, but wondered how to make it a reality? Have you ever been so frustrated by a project that - vision or no vision - you decided to quit right then and there? This charming book may help you look at your project from a whole new angle.

Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candice Flemming
An avid but imperfect inventor is in search of a great idea. Who could have guessed that a family fishing trip and his inquisitive daughter would give him just the inspiration he needs.

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