The Joy of Generosity: 19 Children’s Picture Books

by Marsha Rakestraw

Every holiday season there’s a bizarre conflicting focus on acquiring and sharing, getting and giving.

Help bring the joy of generosity into clearer focus for younger kids with the help of these 19 children’s picture books.

1. Shoebox Sam by Mary Brigid Barrett
2011. Grades PreK-2.
Delia and Jessie spend Saturdays with Shoebox Sam, who teaches them about making old shoes new again and helping those in need.

2. The Starry Giraffe by Andy Bergmann
2017. Grades PreK-2.
Starry Giraffe is excited about choosing the very best apple to eat from the tree. But just as she’s about to take a bite, a hungry friend pops up who can’t reach the apples and asks if she will share. This happens over and over, until the generous giraffe has given away all the apples on the tree. Thank goodness there’s a happy ending!

3. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
2007. Grades K-3.
Jeremy wants those shoes that most of his classmates seem to have: black high-tops with two white stripes. But they can’t afford them. When Jeremy finds those shoes at the thrift store, he buys them – even though they’re too small for him. But then he finds an even better use for them.

4. The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
2000. Grades 1-5.
A seamstress makes beautiful quilts and gives them to people who are poor and needy. When the greedy king demands one of her quilts, she agrees to make him one – once he has given away all that he has.

5. Mama Panya’s Pancakes by Mary Chamberlin
2006. Grades K-3.
Adika is so excited that his mother is going to make pancakes that he invites all his friends. Mama worries; will they have enough to feed everyone?

6. Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn
1995. Grades 1-4.
It’s Chinese New Year and Sam is excited to spend his money in any way he wants. There are so many things to tempt him, but when he encounters a homeless man, Sam starts to gain a new insight about his “lucky” money.

7. Little Night Cat by Sonja Danowski
2016. Grades K-2.
Tony generously offers his stuffed animals to the animal shelter to raise money for the needy dogs and cats. Touched by his kindness, Tony’s mother gifts him a gift he never expected.

8. Stone Soup by Heather Forest
1998. Grades K-3.
A modernized retelling of the classic tale about travelers who declare they can make soup from a stone.

9. Brother Juniper by Diane Gibfried
2006. Grades K-2.
When the friars return from a trip & discover that generous Brother Juniper has given away the entire church to those in need, they’re furious…until the true consequences are revealed.

10. The Present by Bob Gill
2010. Grades K-3.
Arthur tries to guess what’s in the present hidden in the closet, until a visitor arrives & Arthur discovers the best gift of all.

11. When Stories Fell Like Shooting Stars by Valiska Gregory
1996. Grades 1-3.
Two fables about resolving conflict, one focusing on the consequences of greed, the other exemplifying the benefits of generosity.

12. Don’t Say a Word, Mamá/No Digas Nada, Mamá by Joe Hayes
2013. Grades K-3.
Rosa and Blanca are two generous daughters who live near their mother. Both sisters have bountiful gardens and secretly want to share their tomatoes, corn, and chiles with each other, swearing their mother to secrecy, until she has to say something!

13. The Red Bicycle by Jude Isabella
2015. Grades 3-6.
When Leo outgrows his beloved bicycle, Big Red, he decides to donate it to an organization that refurbishes used bicycles for use by people in developing countries.

14. Feathers for Peacock by Jacqueline Jules
2016. Grades K-2.
This origin story tells of when the world was new and birds had no feathers. All the birds decided to talk to the wise moon to plead their case. The moon gives all the birds feathers the colors of leaves and flowers … except for peacock, who overslept. The birds generously give peacock some of their feathers, and the moon helps transform their gifts into peacock’s special look.

15. The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston
2014. Grades K-3.
The house next to Sameer’s has been empty for a long time, and the family has enjoyed the delicious olives from the tree next door. When the family moves back, the girl Muna refuses to share their tree. And then one fateful night, lightning strikes the olive tree, and the children are given a chance to show generosity.

16. The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern
1997. Grades 2-5.
When two siblings discover a homeless woman living in their neighborhood, they discover how easy it can be to make a difference in someone’s life.

17. Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
2018. Grades PreK-2.
When Omu makes a tasty stew for her dinner, the scent entices others in the neighborhood with whom Omu shares her stew. The next knock on the door is all those whom she fed, each with their own contribution of gratitude for Omu’s generosity.

18. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
2002. Grades PreK-2.
Mary is just an ordinary girl, but her simple act of generosity – picking a bowlful of blueberries and leaving them for a neighbor – sparks a pay-it-forward bonanza of kind acts, which leads to “… in only fifteen days – love was sent to every person everywhere!”

19. The Can Man by Laura Williams
2010. Grades 1-4.
When Tim notices the homeless “Can Man” making money by redeeming cans, he decides to earn money for a skateboard, until he has a change of heart.

Find more suggested children’s books and other resources in our online Solutionary Hub.

Be sure to forward this to at least ONE person who would benefit from these resources.

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