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Children's hands stacked together next to the text "TEAMWORK & COOPERATION PICTURE BOOKS" on a blue background, highlighting the importance of children's books about teamwork.
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United We Read: Picture Books Promoting Teamwork and Cooperation

Cooperation is like an unsung hero of life skills, requiring practice and patience. Unlike solitary tasks, it involves understanding others and fosters empathy and teamwork. It’s a skill we want children to embrace from a young age, as it fosters empathy and smoothens social interactions. So, how can we teach this? The answer lies in the pages of picture books. Read on as I delve into the power of picture books in imparting the value of cooperation.

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Let's Talk Cooperation with Picture Books

Cooperation – it’s one of those life skills we all need to master. It’s like learning to ride a bike or tying your shoelaces, but with a bit more social finesse.

And children need to master this skill early on. Why? Because it helps them develop empathy, learn to work as part of a team, and have smoother social interactions.

So, what makes for successful cooperation? Well, it’s not rocket science. Your students just need to be respectful, caring, honest, thoughtful, reflective, and open-minded. And what better way to explore these values than through the colourful pages of picture books?

Why Should We Bother Teaching Cooperation?

You might be asking, Why are teamwork and cooperation so important? Well, these are fundamental skills that help individuals work in harmony with others. They encourage empathy, understanding, patience, and acceptance – qualities we all need in our daily lives.

  • Social Skills: Cooperation teaches children the magic of collective effort and the joy that can spring from it.
  • Empathy Building: Cooperation opens a window into other people’s perspectives, helping children develop empathy.
  • Problem-Solving Power-Up: When children cooperate, they learn to pool their ideas and efforts to solve problems more effectively.
A group of four young children from children's books about teamwork stacking hands in a show of unity and smiling joyfully at the camera.

Why Read Children’s Books About Teamwork and Cooperation?

Now, how do picture books come into play? Picture books are like mini-theatres where children can see different scenarios play out. Through engaging stories and vivid illustrations, they can observe characters working together to overcome obstacles or achieve common goals.

But it’s not just about watching; it’s also about relating. Children can relate to these characters, feel their triumphs and disappointments, understand their motivations – and ultimately learn from them. Here’s a few more benefits:

  • Picture Love: Let’s face it, children are like little magpies, drawn to shiny, colourful images. Picture books are the perfect bait.
  • Emotional Connection: Stories and artwork in picture books can stir emotions, helping children connect with the characters and the lessons they learn.
  • Discussion Starter: Picture books about teamwork are like a conversation starter kit, sparking discussions about teamwork and empathy.
 
Children’s books about teamwork promote the benefits of collaboration. You will read about cooperative characters who:
  • Work together towards a common goal; sharing ideas and expertise
  • Learn to trust others through teamwork and collaboration.
  • Develop social skills and teamwork skills.
  • Communicate their needs and listen to the needs of others.
  • Think about the perspectives of others and show empathy.
  • Work through conflict with others to achieve a successful resolution.
  • Compromise, thinking about fairness and sharing.

How to Use Picture Books to Teach Cooperation

  • Book Selection: Pick books focusing on cooperation and teamwork, where characters collaborate to overcome hurdles or reach a shared goal.
  • Interactive Reading: During storytime, pause to ask your students about the character’s actions and what they might do in similar situations.
  • Post-Reading Activities: After the story, engage your students in activities that reflect the book’s themes, like group projects or cooperative games. Explore activities for Click, Clack Moo, Cows That Type and Room on the Broom, both picture books about teamwork and cooperation.
  • Create a Cooperative Climate: Use picture books as a launchpad to foster a culture of cooperation in your classroom.
A diverse group of children engaged in animated discussion around a table with papers, colorful sticky notes, and children's books about teamwork.

Questions to Ask When Reading Children’s Books about Teamwork

Ask questions to help your students focus on the cooperation and teamwork they see in the books.

  • Why is cooperation sometimes tricky?
  • Can you remember a time when you had to cooperate with someone?
  • How does cooperation help solve problems?
  • Would you have acted differently than the characters in the story?
  • Why do you think the author focused on cooperation in this story?
  • How can we tackle challenges in teamwork?
  • How did the [character’s] behaviour influence the teamwork?
  • What made [character] a good team player?
  • Why was it key that [character] worked with [character]? Could they have done it alone?
  • How did [character] put aside their feelings for [character] to work together?
  • How did working together help [characters] deal with a tough situation?

Children’s Books about Teamwork and Cooperation

Reading picture books about teamwork can help your students see collaboration in action. It’s like turning a concept into a living, breathing thing. Here are a few of my favourites:

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh

In Piplantri village, Sundar Paliwal encouraged gender equality by asking villagers to plant 111 trees every time a girl was born. These trees provided food, water, and jobs for women.

Paliwal wanted to show that everyone can work together to help the environment, empower women, and build a stronger community.

The Barnabus Project by Terry Fan

Strange animals in glass jars are failed attempts to create perfect pets. Barnabus, half mouse and half elephant, teams up with fellow captives to escape and reach the outside world.

The Barnabus Project sparks discussion about self-acceptance, cooperation, courage, following your dreams, and embracing imperfections.

The Can Caravan by Richard O'Neill

Janie is on a mission to help her neighbour, Mrs. Tolen, find a new home when she breaks her hip. With the support of a Traveller community, they transform Mrs. Tolen’s old caravan into a safe and secure dwelling.

The Can Caravan highlights resilience, adaptability, loyalty, independence, and the importance of recycling and teamwork.

A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams

A Chair for My Mother illuminates the power of love, family, and community even in the most challenging times. Rosa, her mother, and her grandmother lose their home to a devastating fire.

The book explores poverty, saving money, community kindness and generosity, and perseverance, even in the face of adversity.

Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman

Change Sings tells the inspiring story of a young girl and her group of friends who work together to bring about positive change in their community.

The book teaches your students that age is no barrier to making a difference and that their unique voices can bring about positive changes in the world.

Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

When Farmer Brown’s cows stumble upon a typewriter, they type letters demanding electric blankets. Things escalate as the cows strike, and Duck is the mediator. But the peace doesn’t last long when the ducks have their own demands!

Click, Clack, Moo story promotes dialogue about fair negotiations, communication’s power, and compromise.

Cloud Chaser by Anne-Fleur Drillon

Emery and Leon collaborate to create a flying machine. After initial failures, Emery achieves flight and Leon embarks on an ocean journey, inspiring Emery to continue dreaming and creating.

Cloud Chaser, translated from French, weaves a story of the creative process, scientific discovery, mentorship, support and a shared journey of invention.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Liam stumbles upon a wilting garden on an abandoned train track. With time, care, and patience, Liam nurtures the garden back to life which spreads throughout the city.

The Curious Garden sparks discussions on sustainability, adaptability, perseverance, cooperation, and the impact one person can have.

Elephant Island by Leo Timmers

Arnold, an elephant, finds himself stranded on a tiny island after a storm washes him away from his home. He uses his ingenuity and resourcefulness to transform the island into a makeshift vessel to sail back home.

Elephant Island sparks discussions about perseverance in overcoming obstacles, resilience, resourcefulness and adaptability, and community support.

Flood by Alvaro F. Villa

A flood hits a city, and its inhabitants ignore it until it’s too late. A small animal pleads for help, but the larger animals ignore it. When the flood affects everyone, they unite to solve the problem by pulling out the plug.

Flooded explores environmental awareness, community action, teamwork, problem-solving, and the consequences of ignoring problems.

Flooded by Mariajo Ilustrajo

A flood hits a city, and its inhabitants ignore it until it’s too late. A small animal pleads for help, but the larger animals ignore it. When the flood affects everyone, they unite to solve the problem by pulling out the plug.

Flooded explores environmental awareness, community action, teamwork, problem-solving, and the consequences of ignoring problems.

The Fog by Kyo Maclear

Warble notices a thick fog on Icyland Island that only he and a Red-hooded Spectacled Female can see. They decide to fight the fog together and eventually find others who can see it too, leading to the mist lifting.

Reading The Fog explores climate change, cooperation, patience, perseverance, and working together makes change possible.

The Fragile World by Alexandra Mîrzac

A conflict, with a long-forgotten reason, exists between the Reds and the Blues in a china cabinet. An all-out war began after the Blues tried to paint the Reds blue. When everything is destroyed, the Reds and Blues realise they are stronger together.

The Fragile World promotes discussions on conflict resolution, tolerance, accepting differences, cooperation and war.

Freedom, We Sing by Amyra León

Freedom, We Sing explores different aspects of freedom. From the right to live without violence to be who we are, unafraid and safe – this book is a beacon of hope and empathy.

The book provides a thought-provoking introduction to social justice, equality, and understanding and respecting human rights.

Goal! by Mina Javaherbin

Ajani and his friends in South Africa cherish a new federation-sized soccer ball. Their love for the game brings them together, but they must also confront and overcome neighbourhood bullies who threaten their freedom to play. 

Goal! delves into resilience, unity, overcoming adversity, the transforming power of sports, and the story’s setting of a South African township.

Going Places by Peter H. Reynolds

The Going Places contest involves building and racing a go-kart, but Maya has a different idea. Her curiosity and open mind help her find a unique way to cross the finish line.

Going Places explores individuality, creative thinking, collaboration, achieving shared goals, taking risks and being brave enough to step outside our comfort zone.

Grace banker and hello girls answer the call.

Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators by Claudia Friddell

Grace Banker, a telephone operator, and her team of 32 women known as the “Hello Girls,” played a crucial role in connecting calls and transmitting messages for the U.S. Army in France. 

Despite the hardships and danger, these women displayed courage, resilience, and determination, ultimately proving that they could do a job traditionally held by men.

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba

A green meadow where children play turns into a concrete urban jungle. Amid the grey, a small patch of land is left untouched. Over time, this patch falls into disrepair. The community comes together to revive it, turning it into a vibrant community garden.

Green Green promotes discussions on community involvement, environmental stewardship, the impact of urbanization, and the value of green spaces.

Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood by Tony Hillery

Mr. Tony, seeing the restlessness of the children in Harlem, transforms a vacant lot into a community garden. With the help of students, he brings positive change to the neighbourhood.

Harlem Grown explores the power of collective action, environmental conservation, seeing hard work bear fruit, taking initiative, shared responsibility, and the power of a single big idea.

Hey, Wall: A Story of Art and Community by Susan Verde

A neglected wall is transformed into a vibrant mural by a young boy and his community, celebrating their stories, dreams, and heritage.

Hey, Wall sparkes discussion about the power of art to inspire change, community collaboration, and the role of individual initiative in creating positive communal spaces.

The High Line: A Park to Look Up To by Victoria Tentler-Krylov