Talking about how we raise community minded kids, seems as relevant today as it was when first posted in 2011. Check out our booklists and download the PDF for for some guidance and useful suggestions.
How do we raise our children to be thinkers and doers and to care about the world around them? I invited five community-minded parents and the community to share resources and ideas at AS220 on May 25, 2011. Some of the ideas discussed; Tell stories and read to your children about people with different experiences and from different cultures, teach them to be socially responsible by being a role model–sometimes it is the simple everyday things we do such as where and what we shop and how we treat our neighbors that teaches our children to care about the world around them. If you missed the conversation, join in now. Watch the video here.
Download a PDF version of the CMK Field Guide here. *If you would like to special order a large quantity of CMK Field Guides, please contact Anisa (at) Kidoinfo (dot) com.
I believe books are important to share with our kids at any age. Here are books recommendations from local experts that support the idea of kids learning a sense of self, diversity, tolerance, compassion for others, awareness of their sense of place in the world, and social responsibility to their community.
BOOK LIST FROM LINDSAY SHAW, children’s librarian at the Providence Athenaeum
PICTURE BOOKS: VERY YOUNG
- Good Morning Digger by Anne Rockwell
PICTURE BOOKS: AGES 3-5 AND UP
- A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams
After a fire has destroyed their apartment and the neighborhood joins together to replace their losses; a grandmother, mother and a daughter save their coins in a big jar to buy a new chair for Mom.
- Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
A beautifully and whimsically illustrated book, with simple to understand definitions of sometimes hard to understand behaviors.
- Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis
A lively story set to rhyme, that shows with humor and charmÂ how our attitude and behavior can help our world
- Henry Works by D.B. Johnson
Henry Thoreau, represented as a bear, assists his friends and helps out around his rural community on his path to work.
- Curious George Plants a Tree by Monica Perez
The irrepressible Curious George gets into trouble with newspapers again! This time he is trying to help the environment and all is well when he and his special friend plant a tree. Child friendly “going green” tips at the end.
- Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller
Will Mr.Rabbit get along with his new neighbors? He will when he remembers the Golden Rule.
- The Empty Pot by Demi
A talented young gardener named Ping, joins in a competition to grow the most beautiful plant for the Emperor. The winner will become his heir. When his carefully tended seeds fail to grow, Ping must face the Emperor with an empty pot. His thoughtful honesty saves the day.
- The Milkman by Carol Foskett Cordsen
A kindly milkman does his rounds delivering milk and acts of kindness along the way.
- Me–Jane by Patrick McDonnell
A lovely and simple story of the young Jane Goodall, beautifully designed for young children. A mini biography and a message from Jane Goodall are at the end.
- Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow
After his sheep gives him wool, Pelle helps out by running errands for all those who are responsible for making his new suit of clothes, his grandparents, mother and tailor.
- Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
A wonderful and realistic story of a child looking for beauty in her neglected neighborhood and finds it through conversations with the grown-ups in her community. Eventually she successfully works to bring beauty to her corner of the world.
- Stone Soup — Multiple versions
This tale told in countless versions from Nail Soup to Bone Button Borscht (Davis and Petricic) is great no matter the retelling. It is the star of any early lessons of cooperation and sharing.
- Westlandia by Paul Fleishman
A fun, funny, inventive and touching story of a young misfit, a rare plant and the unique world created in his back yard. The story embraces creativity, environment, cooperation and friendship.
- Yoko’s World of Kindness — Wells, Rosemary
A collection of stories for school age children that help them learn about positive social skills.
- Zen Ties by Jon J. Muth and Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
Through the stories and examples of the kindly giant panda Stillwater, these books reflect the beauty of the Zen Buddhist experience in a way that is both understandable and meaningful.
- The Three Questions: Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy by Jon Muth
The beautifully illustrated story of a young boy’s quest to discover the answer to three important questions. (older children)
FICTION: AGES 8-12
- Buddha in the Garden by David BouchardÂ (picture book for older children)
A young boy tends the gardens at a Buddhist monastery and discovers enlightenment and peace along the way.
- Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop
Inspired by a photograph by Lewis Hines of a young textile factory girl, this story is about working children and their efforts along with the help of a teacher to change their conditions.
- Hoot by Carl Hiassen
Adventure surrounds children living on the edge and fighting developers as they plan to destroy the habitat of an endangered bird. Though some of their tactics for winning the battle are not recommended, they are presented with humor. (older children 10 and up)
- The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney
As the class pet, Humphrey, the hamster, teaches the children lessons in kindness, understanding and wisdom
- Kid Blinks Beats the World by Don Brown (history) (picture book for older children)
The colorful and true story of “newsies” (newspaper boys) who go on strike in 1899 and take on the two most powerful publishers in the nation.
- We Were There Too! by Phillip M. Hoose
Crisp and entertaining accounts of children who made a difference in America from pre-colonial times to the present.
- Girls Who Rocked the World by Amelie Welden
- How to Raise a Child with a High EQ (Emotional Quotient) by Lawrence E. Shapiro Ph.D.
- Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
BOOK LIST FROM CHERYL SPACE, youth services coordinator / library program specialist at Rhode Island Office of Library & Information Services, BONNIE LILIENTHAL, Providence Public Library and AARON COUTU, Greenville Public Library
PICTURE BOOKS: VERY YOUNG
- Mama Panya’s Pancakes by Mary Chamberlin
Mama Panya has just enough money to buy ingredients for a few pancakes, so when her son Adika invites all their friends to join them, she is sure there will not be enough to go around.
- How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
In a city full of hurried people, only young Will notices an injured bird lying on the ground. In this spare urban fable, Graham presents one small boy, one loving family, and one miraculous story of hope and healing.
- Rose and Mr. Wintergarten by Bob Graham
Rumor has it that Rose’s neighbor, Mr. Wintergarten, has a pet crocodile that eats children. So when Rose’s ball flies over his fence, she’s scared to retrieve it. But when she bravely sets out to go where no child has gone before, she discovers the startling truth about her neighbor: he’s friendly!
- Good-bye, Curtis by Kevin Henkes
Curtis has been delivering mail for forty-two years. Today is his last day. And all the mailboxes along his route are filled with surprises. There is a drawing from Debbie, Dennis, and Donny. There is a bottle of aftershave from the Johnsons. There is a small, fat book from Mr. Porter. But the real surprise is at the very last house on the very last street. There is no doubt that everyone loves Curtis!
- You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest
When Mrs. Bear and little Sam deliver the cakes they have made for their friends in the neighborhood, Sam carries the cakes all by himself, through the snow and up to the front doors.
- The Big Green Pocketbook by Candice Ransom
On her day in town with her mother, a little girl starts off with an empty big green pocketbook-just like her mother’s-and along the way collects pieces of her day to put inside, inventing stories for each treasure.
- Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice by Rosa-Casanova, Sylvia
Mama Provi lives on the first floor of a tall apartment building. Her granddaughter, Lucy, lives on the eighth floor. But Lucy can’t come to visit — she has the chicken pox. Mama Provi knows just what will cheer Lucy up: a yummy pot of arroz con pollo (chicken with rice). As Mama Provi climbs the stairs to Lucy’s door, she meets several neighbors, each with something delicious to trade for a bowl of her rice. By the time she reaches the eighth floor, Mama Provi’s pot of rice has become a multicultural feast, complete with all the fixings, and apple pie for dessert.
- Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson
When Bear is too sick to play, his animal friends go to his cave to make him soup and tea and keep him company.
- Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn
On Chinese New Year’s Day, Sam can hardly wait to go shopping with his mom. His grandparents have given him the traditional gift of “lucky money”-and this year he is finally old enough to spend it any way he chooses.
- A Castle on Viola Street by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan
This warm, vibrant tale is inspired by the author’s own experiences with a community group. Andy is used to his family’s small, run-down apartment, but when he hears about an organization that turns abandoned houses into homes, he sees an opportunity his family cannot miss.
- City Green by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan
Marcy and Miss Rosa start a campaign to clean up an empty lot and turn it into a community garden.
- Grandpa’s Corner Store by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan
Grandfather’s corner grocery business is threatened by a new supermarket, but his granddaughter, Lucy, organizes the neighbors to convince him to stay.
- Chestnut Cove by Tim Egan
When King Milford offers his entire kingdom to the person who can grow the largest juiciest watermelon, the inhabitants of Chestnut Cove become selfish and stop helping each other.
- Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming
After a young Dutch girl writes to her new American friend in thanks for the care package sent after World War II, she begins to receive increasingly larger boxes.
- The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a cantankerous baker. There she initiates a gradual transformation, bit by bit brightening the shop and bringing smiles to customers’ faces with the flowers she grows. But it is in a secret place that Lydia Grace works on her masterpiece – an ambitious rooftop garden – which she hopes will make even Uncle Jim smile.
- The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Minna does a lot of thinking about her project to do something kind, make a picture about what she did, and share it with her classmates, but finally comes up with an idea that spreads to the whole school.
- The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty B. Birney
Eben McAllister searches his small town to see if he can find anything comparable to the real Seven Wonders of the World.
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni describes her first summer in the town of Naomi, Florida, and all the good things that happen to her because of her big ugly dog Winn-Dixie.
- 8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (middle school)
After half-heartedly joining his church youth group’s project at a homeless shelter near his Brooklyn middle school, eighth-grade “loser” Reggie McKnight is inspired to run for school office on a platform of making a real difference in the community.
- The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman (8th grade +)
A Brooklyn eighth-grader nicknamed Antsy befriends the Schwa, an “invisible-ish” boy who is tired of blending into his surroundings and going unnoticed by nearly everyone.
- The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba
Forced to drop out of school when famine hits his village-which has no electricity or running water-a Malawi boy tinkers with scrap metal and builds a windmill that lights a few bulbs and catches the world’s attention.
- Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola
Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement, grew up in the highlands of Kenya, where fig trees cloaked the hills, fish filled the streams, and the people tended their bountiful gardens. But over many years, as more and more land was cleared, Kenya was transformed. When Wangari returned home from college in America, she found the village gardens dry, the people malnourished, and the trees gone. How could she alone bring back the trees and restore the gardens and the people?
BOOK LIST FROM ANISA RAOOF, publisher of Kidoinfo
- People by Peter Spier
A meditative book illustrating the broad diversity of people in the world today.
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler.
- The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
This story is an allegory for prejudice and discrimination, and also offers a lesson of materialism and entrepreneurship.
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
A tale about a relationship between a young boy and a tree.
- Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
A book about peace and equality and that celebrates the differences in different cultures.
- Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
The book follows the life story of Miss Alice Rumphius, a woman who sought a way to make the world more beautiful, and who found it in plainting lupins in the wild.
- The Teddy Bear by David McPhail
This is the wonderful story of a friend who is lost and found and lost and found again, and of a little boy who begins to understand the meaning of compassion.
- The Complete Guide to Service Learning by Cathryn Berger Kaye.
- A Kids’ Guide to Climate Change & Global Warming by Cathryn Berger Kaye
- Step by Step! by the Mosaic Youth Center Board of Directors
with Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner
- The Kid’s Guide to Social Action by Barbara A. Lewis
- The We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Kids by Michael Ungar