Happy Readers Help Out: 3 Books on Philanthropy

Happy (early) Independence Day! Now is a great time to chat with your kids about how blessed we are in the USA, with things we take for granted like clean running water, free schools, and peanut butter. At Little Hands Can events, we do a lot of good for our community and the world through helping with our own little hands but sometimes donating money is just the best way to help others, especially when the distance is far. Whether in big amounts or small, philanthropy can bless others. An easy way to get a discussion about philanthropy started with your kids is through reading books about it. Here are three books about philanthropy to get you started.

Boxes For Katje  

by Candace Fleming

Food and supplies are scarce in Europe after World War II.  In Holland, a girl named Katje receives a small box from a girl in the USA through the Children’s Aid Society.  The soap, socks, and especially chocolate brighten Katje’s day and she sends a thank you card back to Rosie in the US mentioning that there is no sugar in Holland and so the chocolate was a very special treat which she shared with others.  Rosie hears about Katje’s town not having sugar and sends her another box with four bags of sugar in it which Katje shares with more people  And so it goes, with the boxes multiplying as Rosie finds out about more needs in Holland and more people finding out about Rosie’s shipments.  From a canned food drive at Rosie’s school to a clothes drive at the church, people want to help and find a way to do so.  That cold winter Katje’s town is immensely blessed with the food, clothes, and supplies from the boxes. In the spring, Rosie receives a box of her own from Holland filled with tulip bulbs, a fitting thank you from Katje.  

I love the excitement of this book as expressed in all the smiling faces.  What could be in the latest box and who will it help?  It’s a great example of a small movement to help another snowballing into something greater.  What are current situations that people are doing what they can to help and what can we do to help them in their efforts?


The Roses in My Carpet  

by Rukhsana Khan

A boy living in a refugee camp is sponsored in order to learn how to weave beautiful carpets and become a master craftsman. His weaving practice is interrupted one day with the news that his sister has been hit by a truck.  He must deal with the fear of losing his sister as well as the strength necessary to calm his frantic mother.  

This is definitely a weightier book.  Be ready for lots of questions from your children as you read through the book.  It does introduce the idea of sponsoring a child’s education, one form of philanthropy, and shows what life is like in some refugee camps.  I would recommend this one for older children with an adult guide.


One Hen  

by Katie Smith Milway

Kojo gets a small loan to buy one hen.  That hen lays eggs which he and his mother eat and he also sells at market.  Over time he is able to repay his loan as well as buy more hens which lay more eggs.  Eventually he has enough money saved from his egg sells to pay for school.  He is able to go to college and start a real poultry farm.  He employs workers on his farm and helps his town grow and country prosper.  

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The book explains that his loan was because the families in his town pooled their savings to give a loan to a family one at a time so the application of philanthropy isn’t obvious until the back of the book which has explanations of how you can help “one person, one family, one community at a time...One small loan can make a big difference.”

My daughter loves this book.  The illustrations, by Eugenie Fernandes, are bright and engaging. There is so much to look at on each page that my daughter wants to linger.  There is a main point of each page in a larger font for a quick read as well as longer explanations for a more in-depth plot.  Overall a great book!