This week’s books are all about generosity—from gifting valued possessions to showing generosity of spirit, each depicts concrete ways kids can be generous with others.
Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light
Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light is a superbly elegant book about love between two siblings. With limited text and energetic art, their love manifests in multiple ways. Older sister Louise shares her passion for art, and little brother Art emulates her creative energy. Art deconstructs Louise’s “masterpiece” to make a sibling portrait, and Louise forgives the loss of her creation. Art forgives Louise’s anger, and Louise praises his creation with an exhibition on the “Gallery du Fridge.” In a world where Louise loves art, she clearly loves her brother more. This book is all about generosity of spirit. And the examples of patience, tolerance, and compassion for each other make it a favorite pick to balance out natural sibling strife.
So little time, so much to draw. One of these drawings will be my masterpiece— the greatest drawing I have ever done!
I’ve done it. So fierce! So feline! So fantastic… a masterpiece! Louise?
It’s my piece de resistance! I know the perfect spot for it.
Oh, Art. I love it.
It’s your masterpiece. And I know the perfect spot for it. Voila!
Hooray For Hat! by Brian Won
Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won is a visually delightful book depicting a mood-lifting sequence of generosity among friends. Starting with a bleak and grumpy elephant, a surprise (and superbly silly) hat brings color and happiness into the world. Elephant then spreads his joy by giving away a piece of his hat to each of his grumpy friends with the same, exuberant result of “HOORAY FOR HAT!” When five friends then relinquish their individual portions of the hat in order to reconstruct one spectacular gift for Giraffe, the book closes with “HOORAY FOR FRIENDS!” Its lesson that happiness is best when shared with friends is amplified by the message to prioritize relationships over possessions. Best of all, it’s a fun read that my kids pick over and over again!
The doorbell rang. Elephant stomped down the stairs. “GO AWAY! I’M GRUMPY!”
There was a present on the doorstep! Elephant unwrapped the box.
So Elephant gave Zebra a hat. Zebra smiled. They both cheered. “HOORAY FOR HAT! Let’s show Turtle!”
But Turtle would not come out of his shell. “GO AWAY! I’M GRUMPY!”
Elephant gave Owl a hat too. Owl smiled. They all cheered, “HOO-HOO-HOORAY FOR HAT!”
Elephant gave Lion a hat too. But Lion was still sad. “I love this hat. But I can’t cheer while our friend Giraffe is not feeling well. What can we do?”
So Elephant, Zebra, Turtle, Owl, and Lion made a surprise for Giraffe.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson, illustrated by Fumi Kosaka, outlines an exponential sequence of generosity triggered by Mary’s anonymous gift of freshly picked blueberries. Each recipient engages in 5 more acts of generosity for a sum total of more than 30 billion generous deeds! Some people gift material goods and others gift less tangible things like time, assistance, or conversation. Each act of generosity is presented as equivalent in value and effect. And the text highlights that each person is generous within their own limitations of means or circumstance. After reading this book, it’s easy for my kids to think of examples within our own lives where someone has been generous and, better yet, to think of ways to be generous in the here and now. Bonus: the last spread shows the exponential growth from 1 act of kindness to 30,517,578,125 people—although my kids can’t really conceive of that large a number, they definitely get the message that it’s BIG and that Mary’s one deed had a very large effect.
Well, Ordinary Mary picked the ordinary berries and brought them in a big brown bowl to Mrs. Bishop’s porch. What? Left berries in a big brown bowl on Mrs. Bishop’s porch? That sneaky kid! She did! This made Mrs. Bishop berry, berry happy, so she baked a big batch of blueberry muffins and thought of five people who might have brought those beautiful berries, then secretly gave each a plate. How great! Five people got a plate.
One of those five was Joseph, old and bent and gray, in front of him in line at the produce stand. When he said, “I guess I counted wrong. I don’t really need these oranges,” little James reached out to him with an orange from their basket, and Mario put a coin in Joseph’s hand and said, “Here, take this. The oranges are on us.” As Joseph shuffled to the bus, his heart was full and his eyes were wet and his hands did helpful things for the next five people he met. One of those five was Sahar, a college girl who was off to see the world and stopped at Joseph’s shop. When her bag broke and her things fell all over the floor, she said, “Oh, what will I do?” Joseph said, “This is for you,” and he gave her a new bag woven with his own hands in red and purple and green. “Oh, thank you!” she said. “It’s the loveliest bag I’ve ever seen!” When Sahar left, she felt sunny as noon, and she just had to shine on five people soon.
One of those five was Peter, a little boy who went home from the hospital that very day. Gratitude for this big bunch of bright balloons filled him and thrilled him and spilled out of him and onto the next five people who came his way. One of those five was Eric, a teenage boy whose sacks and such were way too much. When one dropped on the sidewalk, Peter stopped his play and rushed right over, saying. “Superwheels to the rescue!” Well, Eric, no longer stressed, was very impressed and made a mental note that very afternoon to help five people, and do it soon!
One of those five was Kate, a woman on vacation who wanted to see a show she’d heard was a sensation. “Oh, no!” she said. “It’s sold out? But I’m going home tomorrow.” And her faced filled with sorrow. Amara held out her ticket. “I live here,” she said. “I can go anytime—take mine.” Kate loved the show and was so touched that she thought buying five presents for five people back home would be really fun. And one of those five presents was a little heart necklace for Mary, her niece, and you should have seen her eyes light up in surprise!
Mary? What? Ordinary Mary? Yes, Ordinary Mary’s extraordinary deed had come full circle, and on its way it had changed the lives of every person living! You see, when Mrs. Bishop made muffins from Mary’s blueberries, not only the paperboy, Billy Parker, but the other four people, too, made five people smile, and those five did, too, and after a while—in only sixteen days—love was sent to every person everywhere! Just see how it went: