Looking for the best picture books about helping others? These picture books about caring for others for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Books with lesson plans and activities linked. Fun and informative picture books about various topics like generosity, volunteering, and more for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!
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Picture Books About Helping Others
Thank You Omu by Oge Mora
Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
A young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community in this stunning picture book. With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic. This is an amazing book about how one person can change a community completely. With the snowy setting, it makes it one of my favorite winter read alouds!
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty
Every morning, Abuelo walks Sofia to school . . . until one day, when Abuelo hurts his ankle at a local landfill and he can no longer do so. Sofia (aka Sofi) misses her Abuelo and wonders what she can do about the dangerous Mount Trashmore. Then she gets an idea—the town can turn the slimy mess into a park! She brainstorms and plans and finally works up the courage to go to City Hall—only to be told by a clerk that she can’t build a park because she’s just a kid! Sofia is down but not out, and she sets out to prove what one kid can do.
December by Eve Bunting
Simon and his mom don’t have much–the cardboard house they built for themselves, a tiny Christmas tree, and a picture of an angel from a calendar pinned to one wall. The angel’s name is December. Simon’s mom says she sings to them when they’re asleep. On Christmas Eve, Simon and his mom take in an old woman who needs a place to keep warm, and the next morning, Simon wakes early to find that the old woman has vanished. Instead, he sees December, their Christmas angel, with her wings fanned out over their cardboard house. Could she be real?
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
A heartwarming story about the new girl in school, and how she learns to appreciate her Korean name.
Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what happens when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious about fitting in. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she decides to choose an American name from a glass jar. But while Unhei thinks of being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, nothing feels right. With the help of a new friend, Unhei will learn that the best name is her own.
The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry
This tender and affectionate story reminds us of the comforting power of friendship and the joy of helping others—a tale that will inspire and delight children for generations to come. All the animals know not to mess with old Scarecrow. But when a small, scared crow falls from midair, Scarecrow does the strangest thing.… He saves the tiny baby crow. Soon a loving bond grows between the two unlikely friends. But is it strong enough to weather the changing of the seasons?
Boxes For Katje by Candace Fleming
After World War II there is little left in Katje’s town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom “thick and bright,” Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje’s street to deliver a mysterious box – a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What’s inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks – beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same.
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
“No one saw the bird fall.” In a city full of hurried people, only young Will notices the bird lying hurt on the ground. With the help of his sympathetic mother, he gently wraps the injured bird and takes it home. In classic Bob Graham style, the beauty is in the details: the careful ministrations with an eyedropper, the bedroom filled with animal memorabilia, the saving of the single feather as a good-luck charm for the bird’s return to the sky. Wistful and uplifting, here is a tale of possibility — and of the souls who never doubt its power.
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
What is a boy to do when a lost penguin shows up at his door? Find out where it comes from, of course, and return it. But the journey to the South Pole is long and difficult in the boy’s rowboat. There are storms to brave and deep, dark nights.To pass the time, the boy tells the penguin stories. Finally, they arrive. Yet instead of being happy, both are sad. That’s when the boy realizes: The penguin hadn’t been lost, it had merely been lonely.
Flight School by Lita Judge
A persevering penguin is determined to fly in this adorably inspiring picture book from the creator of Red Hat and Red Sled.
Although little Penguin has the soul of an eagle, his body wasn’t built to soar. But Penguin has an irrepressible spirit, and he adamantly follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! Even if he needs a little help with the technical parts, this penguin is ready to live on the wind.
Fireboat by Maira Kalman
The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboat of its time, but by 1995, the city didn’t need old fireboats anymore. So the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames. In this inspiring true story, Maira Kalman brings a New York City icon to life and proves that old heroes never die. One of my favorite children’s books about September 11.
Frederick by Leo Lionni
Frederick’s brothers and sisters are busy preparing for winter gathering things they will need, but it appears that Frederick is doing nothing. His family tells him as much, but he replies that he is gathering for winter. When the winter is cold and food is running short, Frederick’s poem about the memories he gathered turns out to be just what everyone needed. This is also one of my favorite children’s books of poetry for Kindergarteners.
A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree
An overgrown pine tree is always being passed by for Christmas. Despite not being the tree everyone wants, he certainly helps his animal friends. When the tree has lost all hope, his woodland friends make his wish come true to be a Christmas tree. A delightful tale of generosity and frienship.
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
Officer Buckle knows more about safety than anyone in the town of Napville. But whenever he tries to share his safety tips, nobody listens – until the day the Napville Police Department buys a police dog named Gloria, who has her own way of demonstrating safety tips. A book so beautifully illustrated that it won a Caldecott Medal!
Blizzard is based on John Rocco’s childhood experience during the now infamous Blizzard of 1978, which brought fifty-three inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island. Told with a brief text and dynamic illustrations, the bookopens with a boy’s excitement upon seeing the first snowflake fall outside his classroom window. It ends with the neighborhood’s immense relief upon seeing the first snowplow break through on their street.
In between the boy watches his familiar landscape transform into something alien, and readers watch him transform into a hero who puts the needs of others first. John uses an increasing amount of white space in his playful images, which include a gatefold spread of the boy’s expedition to the store. This book about the wonder of a winter storm is as delicious as a mug of hot cocoa by the fire on a snowy day.
Mario and the Hole in the Sky by Elizabeth Rusch
The true story of how a scientist saved the planet from environmental disaster.
Mexican American Mario Molina is a modern-day hero who helped solve the ozone crisis of the 1980s. Growing up in Mexico City, Mario was a curious boy who studied hidden worlds through a microscope. As a young man in California, he discovered that CFCs, used in millions of refrigerators and spray cans, were tearing a hole in the earth’s protective ozone layer. Mario knew the world had to be warned–and quickly. Today Mario is a Nobel laureate and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His inspiring story gives hope in the fight against global warming.
An Angel For Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant
Solomon Singer is a middle-aged man who lives in a hotel for men in New York City. One night his solitary wanderings take him into a restaurant where he reads these words on the menu: ”The Westway Cafe — where all your dreams come true. ” A soft-voiced waiter (metaphorically named Angel) welcomes him and invites him back. Each night Singer returns, ordering food and, silently, ordering his wishes for the things he remembers from an Indiana boyhood.
Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah’s inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel’s Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable.
Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.
Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter
A man, his burros, and his books bring joy to children in remote Colombian villages in this inspiring book based on a true story by celebrated picture book creator Jeanette Winter.
Luis loves to read, but soon his house in Colombia is so full of books there’s barely room for the family. What to do? Then he comes up with the perfect solution—a traveling library! He buys two donkeys—Alfa and Beto—and travels with them throughout the land, bringing books and reading to the children in faraway villages. One of the great children’s books about library…a donkey library.
Complete with an author’s note about the real man on whom this story is based.
Twenty-One Steps by Jeff Gottesfeld
The Sentinel Guards, as the book tells, have kept guard over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier since July 1937. This elite unit has but one standard: perfection. Perfection to honor America’s unnamed fallen. To never leave the tomb unguarded regardless of weather. The book masterfully weaves moving prose and information about how the tomb came to be and how the Sentinel Guards unit prepare and for their duty. Students will learn about one of America’s most sacred monuments and its protectors. Matt Tavares’s illustrations provide a moving backdrop that truly add to Gottesfeld’s text that will bring tears to the eyes and inspire a call to service.
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I Am Farmer by Miranda and Baptiste Paul
Discover the true story of how environmentalist Farmer Tantoh is transforming the landscape in his home country of Cameroon. When Tantoh Nforba was a child, his fellow students mocked him for his interest in gardening. Today he’s an environmental hero, bringing clean water and bountiful gardens to the central African nation of Cameroon with his farms. Authors Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul share Farmer Tantoh’s inspiring story.
Passage to Freedom by Ken Mochizuki
Against the order of his government, a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania issued thousands of visas to Jewish refugees to help them flee the Nazis during World War II.
Nicky and Vera
In December 1938, a young Englishman canceled a ski vacation and went instead to Prague to help the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Nazis who were crowded into the city. Setting up a makeshift headquarters in his hotel room, Nicholas Winton took names and photographs from parents desperate to get their children out of danger. He raised money, found foster families in England, arranged travel and visas, and, when necessary, bribed officials and forged documents. In the frantic spring and summer of 1939, as the Nazi shadow fell over Europe, he organized the transportation of almost 700 children to safety.
Then, when the war began and no more children could be rescued, he put away his records and told no one. It was only fifty years later that a chance discovery and a famous television appearance brought Winton’s actions to light.
Lala’s Words by Gracey Zhang
Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. “Hello, hello, friends!” she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod.
Lala’s wild nature and quiet compassion enchant in this evergreen story about the power of kind words and the magic of being loved for who you are.
The Great Stink by Colleen Paeff
It’s the summer of 1858, and London’s River Thames STINKS. What is creating this revolting smell? The answer is gross: the river is full of poop. But the smell isn’t the worst problem. Every few years, cholera breaks out, and thousands of people die. Could there be a connection between the foul water and the deadly disease?
One engineer dreams of making London a cleaner, healthier place. His name is Joseph Bazalgette. His grand plan to create a new sewer system to clean the river is an engineering marvel. And his sewers will save lives. Nothing stinky about that.
Gibberish by Young Vo
Dat and his mom have just arrived in a new country where everyone speaks gibberish. Unfortunately, Dat does not…yet. He goes to school and he tries his best. Thankfully, one of the gibberish-speaking kids tries to understand him and she becomes his new friend. Young Vo’s art helps kids understand the difficulty of not understanding anyone and how understanding others can change them.
Best Picture Books About Helping Others
What are some of your favorite picture books about helping others? Are there any must read picture books about helping others that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!