Below is a list of recommended books, at-home ideas and other resources related to volunteerism, important social issues and values. We will be constantly updating and expanding this list, so it’s a great page to bookmark for future use!
Helpful Articles on How to Teach Your Kids to Interact with the Elderly
How to Teach Kids to Interact with the Elderly by Shelly Frost
How to Teach Kids to Interact with the Elderly by Kathryn Hatter
Recommended Children’s Books Involving the Elderly
Helpful Articles on How to Talk to Your Kids About Homelessness
How to talk to your child about poverty and homelessness by Ziba Kashef
Homelessness Fact Sheet & Lesson Plan for K-2nd Grade by the National Coalition for the Homeless
Tips: Talking to Your Children About Homelessness by Kristin Williamson
How to Talk to Your Kids About Homelessness By Sue Douglass Fliess
Recommended Books on Homelessness & Poverty
Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting In this timely and touching work, Bunting and Himler present a naturalistic look at the plight of the homeless–their tale of a boy and his father living in a busy airport is all the more disturbing for its lack of a pat resolution.
Rosie, The Shopping Cart Lady by Chia Martin Rosie, the “peculiar cart-lady” who lives on the streets, receives the gift of kindness from certain people she meets.
Changing Places: A Kid’s View of Shelter Living by Judy Wallace (Gryphon House, 1992). Ages 4-8. Eight different children, ages 6-13, describe what it is like to live in a homeless shelter.
Great Joy by Kate Dicamillo is the sweet simple tale of a kind organ grinder, his monkey, and the little girl who worries over whether they has a place to go in the storm.
Home Is Where We Live: Life at a Shelter Through a Young Girl’s Eyes by Jane Hertensten (Cornerstone Press Chicago, 1995). Ages 4-8. Life seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl who has just arrived at the Cornerstone Community Outreach Center, a shelter for women and children in Chicago.
A Rose for Abby by Donna Guthrie, illustrated by Dennis Hockerman (Abingdon Press, 1988). Abby has an idea that everyone in the community has something to offer the poor.
Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn. A charming story about a boy who gets “lucky money” for his birthday and ventures into Chinatown to look for the best way to spend it.
Someplace to Go by Maria Testa (Albert Whitman & Company, 1996). Ages 4-8. Story of a young boy named Davey, who lives with his mother and older brother in a shelter and eats at a soup kitchen.
The Teddy Bear by David McPhail (Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks, 2005). Ages 4-8. When a child loses his teddy bear, a homeless man adopts it, showing the child how much he really has.
December by Eve Bunting Simon and his mom live in a cardboard box, but they have a scrap of a Christmas tree, some found decorations including Simon’s toy soldier, and an angel on the wall, named December, torn from an old calendar. On Christmas Eve, an old woman begs them to share their box, and they let her in, where Simon offers her one of the two cookies he is saving for Christmas day. In the morning, the old woman is gone, and the angel herself, singing softly, seems to fill the doorway before fading away. The next Christmas Eve finds Simon and his mother in a real apartment.
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson The story of a Parisian tramp, Armand, who finds a ready-made family to live with him under the bridge, was a Newbery Honor book when it was first published more than 30 years ago.
The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern A modern morality tale that never strays too far from the stark reality of homelessness while portraying the generosity and concern of two children for a stranger. Written in direct, disarming prose, Ben’s story tells how he and his sister try to help the “lady in the box” who keeps her “home” over the heating grate outside the Circle Deli.
Changing Places: A Kids View of Shelter Living by Judy Wallace The voices of eight homeless children, ages 6-13, are captured here with stunning illustrations that give you a poignant look at shelter life. Changing Places acquaints children with the issues of homelessness and poverty. It shows, too, how similar children are in their wants, needs, likes and dislikes, no matter what the circumstances.
Lives Turned Upside Down: Homeless Children in Their Own Words and Photographs by Jim Hubbard As part of a project in which homeless children are given cameras and taught photography, four young people document their lives through their images and interviews with the author. There are no statistics here, just youthful perspectives and observations. Because their insights are not overly brutal, this volume may be an appropriate introduction to the topic of homelessness.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (Harcourt Paperbacks, 2004). Ages 9-12. When Wanda, a poor immigrant girl from Poland who always wears the same blue faded dress tells her classmates that she has one hundred dresses at home, the other children in class taunt her. After Wanda leaves the school because of the teasing, two of her classmates must deal with their guilt.
Sophie and the Sidewalk Man by Stephanie S. Tolan, illustrated by Susan Avishai. (Four Winds Press, 1992). Sophie weighs out her compassion for a homeless man against her desire for a small stuffed hedgehog. Simple and realistic.
Food Fight: Poets Join the Fight Against Hunger with Poems to Favorite Food edited and illustrated by Michael J. Rosen (Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1996). 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.
No Place to Be: Voices of Homeless Children by Judith Berck (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1992). Weaves together commentary on homelessness with photos and the words of homeless kids.
Book Sources: Livemom.com & Doing Good Together
Recommended Books about Hunger:
Uncle Willie & the Soup Kitchen by Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan A young boy accompanies his after-school companion, Uncle Willie, to a city soup kitchen where Willie works daily.
A Kids Guide to Hunger & Homelessness: How to Take Action Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A.
For grades 6+. This is a great book that gets kids thinking about the issue of hunger and homelessness and how they can help make a difference. This is a free, digital book.
Books & Ideas on Kindness & Helping Others:
Heartprints by P.K. Hallinan (All Ages)
Heartprints is a wonderful and heartwarming story about helping others and leaving “heartprints” along the way. It reminds us all that little acts of kindness can make a big impact in the lives of others. While written for children 3-6, it’s a great read for the entire family!
The book Heartprint, defines “heart-print” as the impression left behind by a deliberate act of kindness. The book ends with a question that is also a great family conversation starter at the dinner table — How many heartprints did you leave today?
Talking to your children about their day and what they did to help and/or be kind to others is not only a great way to share experiences as a family, but also reinforces the importance of helping and caring for others in our everyday lives.
Other Recommended Books About Kindness & Helping Others:
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson (Ages 4-8)
Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler (Ages 4-8)
by Jan & Mike Berenstain (Ages 4-8)
The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace (Ages 6-8)
Small Acts of Kindness by James Vollbracht (Ages 3+)
Have You Filled A Bucket Today by Carol McCloud (Ages 4+)
Here are some ideas on ways to integrate teachings of kindness into your family’s everyday lives…
- Kindness Conversation: Ask everyone at the dinner table “Who did you help today?” to start a conversation about kindness. Other questions you can ask include: What did you do to help? How did it make you feel? Did anyone help you today? If so, how did it make you feel? How did you show appreciation for their help?
- Kindness “Awards”- Have a special sticker, button, reward, etc. that is given to your child/children when you see them do something kind (This is especially good to do to encourage siblings to be kind and help one another!)
- Make a “Kindness Jar”- Decorate a jar and cut small pieces of paper. When someone in your family does something kind, they can write down what they did on the paper and put it in the jar. When the jar is full, you celebrate by doing something special as a family. To make it easier for younger children, you can use marbles or cotton balls instead of notes.
- Kindness Journals-Have your school-age children make Kindness Journals, where they can write and draw about acts of kindness they have done for others or others have done for them.
- Family Random Acts of Kindness– Have your family can discuss and decide on a daily, weekly, etc. random act of kindness to be done as a family. Ex- Bring flowers to the kids’ teachers, make a card for your mailman, buy a coffee for the person in line behind you, let someone go ahead of you at the grocery store, etc. You can even make a family kindness book to record all of your family’s random acts of kindness. You could also write down a bunch of random act of kindness ideas and put them in the jar and then pick one to do as a family each week. A great website for random acts of kindness ideas is: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas
Books & Ideas To Help Teach Gratitude:
Featured Book Recommendation: August 2013
Awesome Book of Thanks (All Ages)
by Dallas Clayton
This is a wonderfully written and illustrated book that teaches young children to appreciate and be grateful for all of the wonderful things in their lives, big and small. The whimsical and imaginative examples throughout the book keep kids of all ages engaged while teaching them an important life lesson. Highly recommended!!
Gratitude Soup by Olivia Rosewood (Ages 4+)
I am Thankful Each Day by P.K. Hallinan (Ages 2+)
The Thankful Book by Todd Parr (Age 3-6)
Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks by John Bucchino (Ages 4-8)
Let’s Be Thankful by P.K. Hallinan (Ages 4-8)
Teaching Gratitude Everyday
Here are some simple and fun ways to weave teachings of gratitude into your family’s daily lives…
- At the dinner table or at bedtime, ask your children to talk about one thing they are grateful for that day.
- Make a “Gratitude Jar”- throughout the week, have your kids write down and/or draw a picture of something they are grateful and put in the jar. After a week, pick one to read to each other each day.
- Make or buy a Gratitude Journal for your children to write what they are grateful for. “My First Gratitude Journal” is great for kids 5+.
- Have your kids write thank you/appreciation notes for people in their lives who help and mean a lot to them.
Families Giving Back is proud to partner with Doing Good Together (DGT) to provide our volunteer families with even more simple, fun ways to weave a focus on caring, compassion and service into your life. DGT’s Big-Hearted Families program has a national reputation for providing families with excellent resources and tools to help parents raise kind, service-minded children.
To learn more about Big Hearted Families, click here.