Teaching students to be giving is definitely not something that teachers can do on their own in a few lessons. Kids learn this character trait through watching the people around them, over a long period of time.
With that being said, having a teacher provide examples and discuss the benefits of being giving and generous will definitely help set students on the right path!
Check out the list below to see ten of my very favorite mentor texts to teach about giving!
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1. An Orange for Frankie
His whole family is excited for Christmas, but no one is more excited than Frankie! Not long before Christmas, Frankie sees a homeless man passing through town. He gives the man his favorite sweater to help him stay warm. Frankie’s family is touched by his generosity and wants to give him a special gift.
2. Strega Nona’s Harvest
The beloved Strega Nona is back, and this time she wants to teach Big Anthony how to garden. Big Anthony does not carefully follow Strega Nona’s directions, and as a result, his garden is growing more vegetables than he knows what to do with.
3. What Is Given From the Heart
James Otis and his mama don’t have a lot, but as his mama says, “Long as we have our health and strength, we blessed.” When a local family, who lost everything in a fire, is in need of donations, James Otis’ mama makes an apron to give out of her own best tablecloth, the nicest thing she owns. This leaves James Otis wondering, is there anything that he can give when he is in need of some help himself?
4. The Red Bicycle
This book is definitely unique… its main character is a bicycle! After its first owner, Leo, outgrows it, the bicycle is shipped to West Africa. Here it becomes useful to Alisetta for traveling around her family’s sorghum field and then to Haridata, who uses the bike to deliver medicine to sick people. It’s a fascinating look at how differently people live around the world and how much one boy’s donation can impact the world.
5. It’s Mine
Three frogs that live together on an island spend their days croaking, “It’s mine!” about everything in sight. Water, land, tasty insects…it’s all something to fight over. When a huge storm hits one day and floods the island, the frogs no longer have anything to fight over. This experience helps them learn the values of getting along and most importantly, sharing what they have!
6. Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story
This tale is about a boy named Frankie, who waits for the Christmas Train, which brings presents to the poor children in the coal towns and hollows. Every year, Frankie hopes to get one very special gift. His wish never comes true, but it does help him learn the true meaning of the Christmas season.
7. Under the Lemon Moon
Little Rosalinda is so proud of her lemon tree and is understandably devastated one night when a man steals all the lemons. To make matters worse, the leaves soon turn yellow, and Rosalinda fears the tree may be sick. When Rosalinda sees the lemon thief selling what he took, she has to make a quick decision about how generous and forgiving she should be.
8. Thank You, Mr. Falker
This one is a true story about author Patricia Polacco’s struggle with learning to read as a child and how one special teacher made a huge difference for her. Mr. Falker is willing to do whatever it takes to help Trisha learn to read well and is a great example of what it means to be a giving person.
9. A Chair for My Mother
A little girl, Rosa, and her family have recently lost everything in a fire. Their neighbors are incredibly generous and give them a lot of what they need, but the girl’s mother dreams of having a soft, comfortable chair to sit on after working hard all day. Rosa and her mother and grandmother work together to save all they can until they finally have enough for a new, comfy chair.
10. One City, Two Brothers: A Story from Jerusalem
This is a classic folktale about two brothers. They share their farmland and always have an abundant harvest. The older brother has a wife and family, the younger brother lives on his own. Each brother worries about the other and decides to transfer grain from his own store to his brother’s. The kindness and generosity of these two brothers is a powerful story that will get students thinking about the importance of giving.
Have you heard about my Character Education: Giving resource? It’s a month-long unit that will help your students understand what it means to be more generous towards others!
Maybe since it’s getting close to that “giving” time of year, you want to just go for it and do a whole unit on Thanksgiving. I’ve got ya covered! This unit provides reading and writing practice that hits a wide range of standards, all with a festive Thanksgiving theme.
If you want to learn more about using mentor texts to teach character traits, take a look at the posts below.
Mentor Texts for Teaching Kindness
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