I love books. I collect books. Some may suggest my book collection is approaching hoarder levels.
One of the things I do with my kids is read. We read aloud together almost every night.
I’m also always looking for ways to engage my kids in philanthropy and instill in them the importance of giving back to the community.
What could possibly be better than combining the two?
Here’s a list of some of the amazing books about giving back to the community and making a difference that I read with my kids.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
A book from my childhood. It’s about a family that is working very hard and saving little by little to get something they really want. When a fire breaks out in their apartment building, everyone comes together to help. That’s actually my favorite page to look at with my kids, we talk about the items that everyone is bringing to the new apartment. This book is about everyone coming together to achieve a common goal, which is what philanthropy is all about.
A Hen for Izzy Pippik, written by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Marie Lafrance
A young girl faces a moral dilemma when she finds an egg seller’s lost chicken. This book has sparked many debates with my eldest. When the chicken multiplies, who do the new chickens belong to? Who does the chicken really belong to? What do you do when you find something that belongs to somebody else? How do you know when to give something away?
Free to Be… You and Me by Marlo Thomas and Friends
This is a collection of short stories and poems from the seventies. It’s about growing up and figuring out your life. What I love most of all are the stories about helping others. Messages of acceptance and helping one another really come to the forefront when we talk about philanthropy.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
One of my favorite author/illustrators. Miss Rumphius is instructed by her father to do three things: travel, live by the sea, and make the world a beautiful place. She plants lupine flowers all over her town, but we talk about the non-physical things you can do to make the world a more beautiful place.
Miss Twiggley’s Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox
Miss Twiggley is a woman who is judged very harshly by her community, but in the end they need her help to survive a big storm. This is a book about helping and giving back to your community, no matter what.
The Ordinary People Change the World series, written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
These are easy to read books about people who made the world a better place. Oftentimes they’re about doing what you know in your heart is right, even when others think it’s wrong. Our favorites are Jane Goodall, Jim Henson, and Helen Keller. These people were all told they couldn’t do what they loved and wanted to do. They proved everyone wrong and went on to make a big difference in the world.
Thank You, Mr Falker by Patricia Polacco
This one is about appreciation. A young girl is diagnosed with dyslexia by her teacher. With his help she goes on to become a writer. All it took was one person believing in her. The message here is that if you really believe in the work, and the person behind the work, great things can happen.
The Empty Pot by Demi
This book is about telling the truth and doing what’s right even when it’s hard. It’s about being true to yourself and what you know is true. To be a happy, fulfilled philanthropist you have to follow what you believe in. You don’t have to support the trendiest nonprofits, you support the ones you believe in.
The Hundred Dresses, written by Eleanor Estes and illustrated by Louis Slobodkin
This book is more about kindness than philanthropy, but I think every good philanthropist is empathetic. I love that the main character empathizes with somebody and it haunts her until she makes it right. Personally, I have missed opportunities that haunt me that I am unable to make right, so this one really hits a chord with me. This book teaches kids that standing by and doing nothing is just as bad as doing something hurtful or mean. I’m reminded of this quote from the Pirkei Avot, “You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to desist from it.”
The Invisible Boy, written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice Barton
A boy is invisible at school, no one talks to him or sits with him or plays with him until he makes one friend. It opens up his life and makes a big difference. This is a great one for teaching kids about taking action. Philanthropy is best demonstrated through actions that you can see the results from rather than from giving money that you don’t see the direct results from.
Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan
Based on the author’s experience volunteering at a soup kitchen, this book is about a young boy who volunteers at a soup kitchen with his uncle. It helps take the mystery out of volunteering. The book shows you what a difference you can really make in people’s lives. It dispels the myths about those who need the service of the soup kitchen and allows young children to think about people living on the street in a way that makes sense to them.