Foster your child’s faith in humanity by reading them picture books about communities coming together in times of crisis, as well as in times of normalcy. These children’s books about the power of community, being helpful and looking out for one’s fellow humans and creatures are a great resource to teach your children about the benefits of the social contract.
When communities come together to solve a problem or help one another, it is often a result of one person’s act of kindness starting a chain of positive events. Your kids will see that reality reflected in these stories. But they will also see how there is strength in numbers.
Whether you use these books as a tool for reassurance in a time of crisis, or as encouragement to inspire your child to take actions big or small, be assured they are also wonderfully entertaining stories!
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Picture Books about Communities
We are Together
by Britta Teckentrup
The clever die cut pages show an ever increasing group of ethnically diverse (but not differently-abled) children as the book moves forward. Rhyming text offers the message that together the children are a team. As a team they can do things like splash in puddles, encourage each other to take untraveled paths, or navigate complex emotions like seeing their way through confusing times. Wonderful illustrations place the children in various natural settings, from woodlands to urban parks, and snowy tundras.
Maybe Something Beautiful
by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
Mira wants to brighten up her grey neighborhood. She starts out small by handing out her colorful illustrations to neighbors. Inspired by Mira, the community gets together to transform their environment with colorful murals. This kind of community improvement activity is just the sort of thing that kids can participate in! I love the vibrant illustrations and the message that art makes life better.
The Whispering Town
by Jennifer Elvgren
Based on a true story, this testament to community is the inspiring tale of how one town Nazi-occupied Denmark saved the lives of a Jewish mother and son. Anett’s family had been hiding the pair in their cellar, but in order to get them through the town to a boat headed to Sweden, the whole town must take a risk and come together.
Come with Me
by Holly M. McGhee
A young girl is feeling anxious about the anger, hatred and tension she sees in the news. As a way to reassure his daughter about the goodness still in the world, he takes her for a walk, saying, “Come with me.” On their journey, they see kindness. Later on, the girl takes the dog for a walk and invites a neighbor boy to come along with her. A great book to help you talk to your kids about how to manage their anxiety in a complex world.
Counting on Community
by Innosanto Nagara
Counting books are always a hit with the preschool set and this book encourages children to think about how they can be an active participant in their community and a force for good, from working in the community garden, beautifying the sidewalks with chalk drawings to wearing safety gear when riding bicycles and promoting diversity. Preschoolers will enjoy hunting for the hidden duck throughout the book.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
by Miranda Paul
When Isatou noticed that plastic bags do not degrade like traditional baskets when discarded she comes up with a plan to return beauty to her home and help the economic situation of her neighbors. Together, the women crochet plastic strips into small purses to sell at the market. This book is a good lesson on how communities can take action on their own, as well as pursuing more widespread measures through legislation.
Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future
by Allan Drummond
Author Allan Drummond has three books in his collection of stories about people who focus on building sustainable communities. In this selection, after a tornado destroys Greensburg, Kansas in 2007, the citizens rebuild with sustainability in mind. Be sure to read the companion books, Energy Island, about a community in Denmark that uses wind power, and Pedal Power about how Amsterdam came to be the bicycle capital of the world. All three are wonderfully positive tributes to the power of communities to enact change.
The Subway Sparrow
by Leyla Torres
When a sparrow is trapped on a subway train, a group of diverse individuals work together to capture and release the frightened bird. Even though the subway riders don’t all speak the same language, their desire to cooperate for the greater good overcomes their differences.
Thank You, Omu!
by Oge Mora
I adore the wonderful cut-paper collage illustrations in this timeless tale about the community value of sharing. Omu is making stew and its delicious smell enchants the neighborhood. One by one, a diverse group of visitors, drawn in by the scent of Omu’s stew, knock on her door and ask for a bowl. Omu generously hands out portions but eventually realizes that she no longer has any left for herself. Not to worry! Her neighbors don’t forget her kindness and they all join together to return the favor.
Mr Gumpy’s Outing
by John Burningham
Mr Gumpy goes out for a relaxing afternoon in his wooden boat. Soon a few children ask to join him. He welcomes them aboard with calmness. Next a succession of animals one by one join the group, and even though the boat is getting quite full, no one is refused. A joyful book about inclusion and sharing a boat come what may, and sharing a pot of tea even when things go topsy turvy.
The Big Umbrella
by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates
This book sparkles with its celebration of the joy that comes when we include others. It wass written by a mother and her 11 year old daughter while walking to school in the rain. The story begins with a narrator introducing a big umbrella by the door; it’s a really big umbrella, big enough for everyone. I love the inclusion of a diverse cast of characters, making this a wonderful book with a very positive, uplifting message.
Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
by Susan Hood
This is such an inspiring story. Young Ada Ríos lives in Paraguay in a town that was built atop a landfill. Ada loves music and dreams of playing the violin, but her family is too poor to afford it. When a new teacher comes to the community, he crafts instruments out of trash and the children form an orchestra. This is a great book which covers so many issues: a community coming together musicianship, education, environmental justice and more.
More books about communities on the following lists: