She told me to always look for people who could help me. There is always someone who wants to help. There are a lot of people who can help when things go wrong in the world. I saw that there are a lot of people who are willing to help. Fred Rogers said that.
A natural disaster is going on in our country right now: Hurricane Harvey caused a lot of floods in Houston this weekend. More than a million people have been forced to leave their homes. Many more are stuck inside their homes, waiting for the storm to pass. People like doctors, nurses, and rescue teams haven’t been able to leave their jobs for days on end because there aren’t enough people to take their places. Helpers are seen in the middle of everything. It’s not just the people who have been trained that help, but also the people who volunteer, donate money, open their homes, or do many other things to help.
There will always be something going on in the world that our kids find confusing or scary. It is the best thing we can give them, and they will learn how to be good people by following us. There are a lot of other things that can help us teach them that they want to help other people.
“I can’t remember the books I’ve read any more than I can remember the meals I’ve had. Even so, they have made me.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said this.
The idea that “you are what you read” is backed up by a lot of academic research. Reading makes us think better. We already know that reading to our kids helps them learn how to speak. If we go even further, we can use books to help them grow up in a social and moral way, too.
Among a lot of other books, these twelve are good examples of how to be kind, generous, and helpful. You can use them as tools to show your kids that there is a silver lining to bad times.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? — a Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood book
Because of the quote I used at the start of this article, I’ll start with one of my favorite places. I learned about Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood as a child. For my kids, I like the modern version of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood because it helps them learn about new feelings and things. I especially like the sense of community that is all over the show. Several songs talk about this, like “A Neighbor Is Here to Help,” “Friends Help Each Other,” “Taking Care of You,” and “We Take Care of Each Other.” In this book, you learn about what a neighbor is and how to be a good neighbor. The title comes from the show’s title song. There are a lot of themes in this simple book about how to help others and work together.
A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams
Love this book! From when I was a child, I still like it. The story has a lot of different ways that people can help each other. In the beginning, there is a tragedy, like a fire in the house. Then, the neighborhood comes together to help the family. She wants to buy a chair for her mother, who gets so tired at the end of each day because of her job. This is a good book because the illustrations are interesting and the story is well written. You’ll love this book because it’s so sweet.
Blizzard by John Rocco
People in my neighborhood library told me that this book was good, and I’m so glad they did! It’s based on a true story about the Blizzard of ’78 in New England, but it’s not the same. For his family and the people who live next door, the author braved the snowy roads with tennis rackets on his feet. The illustrations are so cute, and the story is very interesting. I like both of them. If you like adventurous kids, you’ll love this one. He goes on an adventure, but he also checks up on his neighbors and takes care of them, too.
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
This poor bird has crashed into a window and is now on the ground with its wing broken. People in the city don’t even notice it. A little boy asks his mother to help him take the bird home and nurse it back to health. I like this book because the illustrations show how worried and frustrated the parents are about their new houseguest, but no one says anything about it in the book. When their child starts to care about other animals, they back him up 100%. They help him take care of the bird until it is well enough to be released back into the sky. Here are some things for parents to learn as well:
The Teddy Bear by David McPhail
I’m not a very emotional person, but I’ll tell you right now that this book made me cry. When a small boy lost his favorite toy, it went with him. When a homeless man found it, he was even more attached to it than the boy was when he found it. You will be happy when the three main characters come together at the end of the book. When I need to learn about compassion and shared experiences in the midst of a lot of different things, I’ll go back to this book again.
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
This little book is often used to show how important it is to keep going. I think I can. Because of that, it’s also an excellent example of what it means to be helpful. We see engine after engine pass by the little train in need, until the smallest engine of all freely gives her help, even though she doesn’t know if she can help. Because I have little kids at home, I think of another Daniel Tiger song, “Everyone is big enough, big enough to do something.” A good thing for our kids to learn is that even though we all have flaws, there is always something we can do to help if we look for chances and make ourselves available.
Widget by Lyn Rossiter McFarland
If you want to live in a warm place and eat lots of food, Widget is the dog for you. However, when his human owner needs help, he doesn’t think twice about revealing himself to the neighbors, even though he knows it could put his home at risk. It’s a fun book about the times when you have to give up some of your own needs to help others who have a bigger problem. It’s also a lot of fun and will make your little one laugh.
Patch by David Slonim
Another book about a furry friend. This one is the easiest of the chapter books because it doesn’t have many words. “Through thick and thin,” it talks about a young boy taking care of his dog and being there for him. To help his dog, the boy doesn’t think twice about putting his own time and needs on hold. The dog has stickers in his fur, fleas, and stage fright.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
On this list, I haven’t read this book yet, because the library has already checked it out. I had to add it, though, because so many people say it’s great. In this story, a patient zookeeper who has won the hearts of his animals is told by a winner of the Caldecott Medal. Whenever he doesn’t show up for work because he’s sick, the animals take care of him instead. It’s likely that your kids will enjoy this story about taking care of each other, because they love animal and zoo books.
Duck Soup by by Jackie Urbanovic
Okay, this one might be a little far-fetched. Today, my son chose one from the library. After I read through it, I found a lesson and decided to put it in. If you want to make your child laugh, you need to use slapstick in this story a lot. Max the duck is trying to make a soup that will be a real hit. Friends come to visit Max when he’s not there. They think he fell into the pot. Even though it means they won’t be able to eat dinner, the friends don’t hesitate to eat the soup to find their friend. (No animals, whether they were used in the book or not, were hurt in the making of this book.)
Panda Cake by Rosalie Seidler
If you were born the year this book came out, you’re not going to be able to get your hands on a copy. During the time I was younger, I thought it was great. I bought a used copy for my son’s second birthday. Even though the illustrations are all drawn in black and white, I’m surprised that a young child can keep up with it so well. There is so much magic in the rhyme and the animal characters, and the story is so interesting. My son always pays close attention to the two brother pandas who have been asked to buy the ingredients for a special panda cake. The older brother doesn’t always make the best decisions. Instead, he goes out looking for the ingredients. Inadvertently, he steals them from other animals. So he sends his little brother home while he takes the money and goes to the fair. This is how it works: Her kids don’t know what to think when their mom sees a group of animals that have been harmed. Instead, she welcomes them into her home and shares her favorite cake with them all. It’s a sweet story about being kind and welcoming to the people who are close to us.
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
This elephant is the star of the show. The last time we saw Horton, he was protecting an egg that didn’t have a mother. This time, he’s more persistent and more kind. Horton hears a tiny voice in a speck of dust. The mayor of the Whos asks him to help save their small town. Horton has to pay a high price for this mission because his “friends,” who can’t hear the Whos, mock and insult him all the time. “No matter how small you are, you are still a person.” Lesson well learned.
You know, being a parent can be scary at times. There are days when it seems like a big deal just to get our kids to adulthood. Then, we want them to be good people, too! None of this made sense to me. As it turns out, even the poorest parents have a lot of books to help us in our search for happiness. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel more powerful as a parent. I also hope that this list helps you with one small part of your parenting journey, as well. Do you have any other books that teach kids about how important it is to help others? Add them to the comments below. I’d love to hear what you think.