Generosity: Children Giving to Less Fortunate
compiled from suggestions from LM-NET members and my colleagues in Austin (TX) ISD school libraries
by Shirley H. Lukenbill, Librarian
Wooldridge Elementary School, Austin (TX) ISD

The Lady in the Box, by Ann McGovern: When Lizzie and Ben discover a homeless lady living in their neighborhood, they must reconcile their desire to help her with their mother's admonition not to talk to strangers.

Lily and the Paper Man, by Rebecca Upjohn: Walking with her mother on the way home from school one day, Lily runs straight into a gruff and untidy-looking man selling papers on the street. Lily is afraid of the man, but when the weather turns cold, she starts to see the Paper Man differently - she sees his bare toes through the holes in his boots and his thin shirt through the holes in his coat. As she lies in her cosy bed at night, she wonders how the Paper Man stays warm. Lily comes up with a wonderful idea.

The Quiltmaker's Gift, by Jeff Brubeau: Rich but dissatisfied, a king demands a quilt from a gifted quiltmaker, but she refuses unless he gives away all his material possessions. The irate monarch twice attempts to punish her but both times she foils him. Finally he agrees to her demand, growing progressively happier with each thing that he gives away. Brumbeau's overlong tale treads a well-worn trail here, hampered by bursts of overwrought prose ("the king's great sunny laugh made green apples fall and flowers turn his way"). The artwork achieves a dizzying, quilted look with lush full-page illustrations in cotton-candy colors sharing a spread with saucy vignettes; "the king could not sleep" for instance, inspires a droll four-panel peek at the restless fellow tossing and turning in bed. De Marcken pays homage at every turn to the quiltmaker's craft.

Silver Packages, by Cynthia Rylant: Every year at Christmas a rich man rides a train through Appalachia and throws gifts to the poor children who are waiting, in order to repay a debt he owes the people who live there. This is the true story of the Christmas Train which travels through Appalachia tossing gifts to poor children. This annual event began after a wealthy man had a car accident while driving on a snowy mountain road. He was taken in, and nursed back to health by a friendly family. He wanted to repay these people, but they would not accept his offer of money. So he thanked the community by giving gifts (tossed out the back of a train) to children every year.
I found an article in the newspaper recently that explained the whole story as it continues each year. My favorite part, tells of one boy who always wanted a doctor kit as a child. He received warm socks, and other useful items, but never the doctor kit. As an adult he completed medical school and returned to his home to help the community which so needed a doctor.

December, by Eve Bunting. A homeless family's luck changes after they help an old woman who has even less than they do at Christmas.

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.

Los zapaticos de Rosa, by José Martí ; ilustrado por Lulu Delacre. Presents an illustrated poem that tells the story of a young girl of privilege who gives her beloved pink shoes to a less fortunate girl she meets on the beach.

Trees of the Dancing Goats, by Patricia Polacco: During a scarlet fever epidemic one winter in Michigan, a Jewish family helps make Christmas special for their sick neighbors by making their own Hanukkah miracle. Based on a memory from the author's childhood. -- Family giving to another family.

Great Joy, by Kate DiCamillo. It's about humanizing the homeless as much as about giving. Just before Christmas, when Frances sees a sad-eyed organ grinder and his monkey performing near her apartment, she cannot stop thinking about them, wondering where they go at night, and wishing she could do something to help.

Claude the Dog: A Christmas Story, by Dick Gackenback for the little ones. Of course, it's about a dog, not a child. Claude the dog has a dog friend who has to live outside in the cold weather. Claude gets a new blanket and a new toy for Christmas. Claude gives his new blanket and toy to his homeless dog friend. Claude tells his dog friend that he still has his best gift at home—his master, a little boy who gives him a home and plays with him.

The Apple Cake, by Nienke Van Hichturn, An old lady would like to make an apple cake, but she has only a basket of plums and "anyone knows you just can't make apple cake with plums no matter how hard you try." She sets off on a journey to the market with her plums in high hopes, "you never know I may just come to a place where there are apples but no plums." Along the way she meets people and makes exchanges... but will she ever get the apples she needs to make her cake? The story teaches the value of giving up what you have to help someone else, and the rewards that may come along when you least expect it. The recipe included for apple cake is fun to bake, too!

A Chair for My Mother, by Vera Williams: A child, her waitress mother, and her grandmother save dimes to buy a comfortable armchair after all their furniture is lost in a fire.

The Teddy Bear, by David McPhail: A teddy bear, lost by the little boy who loves him, still feels loved after being rescued by a homeless man.

Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge,
by Mem Fox: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is a little boy who lives next door to an "old people's home." He is friends with all of the residents, but his favorite is Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper. One day Wilfrid hears his parents talking about how Miss Nancy has lost her memory. Wilfrid doesn’t know what a memory is so he decides to ask everyone he knows. When he is finished, he sets out to find something to fit each of the explanations that he received. When he gives them to Miss Nancy, she gets her memory back.

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, by Katie Smith Milway: This is the story of how a young boy in Africa buys a hen, sells its eggs at market, saves & sends himself to university and then develops a farm that supports many others and eventually develops a town, etc. etc.

Franklin’s Christmas Gift, by Paulette Bourgeois: Franklin’s class at school is collecting gifts for a toy drive for those less fortunate than themselves. Franklin has a tough time deciding which of his toys to give to the drive.

And now a song to teach about generosity!
I have a song I have used for many years with K and 1. It is sung to the tune of "Deck the Halls."

Tis the season to be giving.
Think about the gifts that you can give.
Did you know your special smile brightens up the day for quite a while.
Help someone pick up a toy.
Helping’s always sure to spread some joy.
Don't forget the best of all.
Let your laughter ring from wall to wall.

We tried to take a field trip to a nursing home to sing each year. I would put a bow on each child and we would talk about it until they understood their songs and smiles were gifts that the residents would remember after they were back at school.

The song was written by JoAnn Marion--I think. She had it up on her wall in her classroom at NWMSU Lab School first grade. I don't have my copy of the song close or I could check for a different author.