Children’s Books about Building a Sense of Community

Children’s Books about Building a Sense of Community

These children’s books about community show positive examples of community building. Your students will see how they can work together to support others and make a difference, including within your classroom community.

Children’s Books about Building a Sense of Community

Why Read Children’s Books About Community Building?

Reading children’s books about community and belonging will give your students examples of how community building lead to positive outcomes, including:

  • improving the quality of life of those living in the community
  • understanding their role within a community
  • community members working together
  • compassionate attitudes towards those in need
  • supporting each other and embracing those from outside the community
  • making social connections with others
  • getting support for personal challenges
  • providing a sense of identity and belonging

Building a Positive Classroom Community

There are many benefits to building a positive classroom community, particularly when using picture books. These benefits include:

Questions for Children’s Books About Community

  • What is a community? Why is belonging to a community important?
  • What communities do you belong to?
  • How is our classroom a community?
  • What do we need to build a positive/respectful community? (listening, etc)
  • What can we do if there is a disagreement within a community?
  • What do you expect from a community?
  • How did working together help [character] feel like they were part of a community?
  • Why was being part of a community important to [character]?
  • Why do you think [character] was reluctant to ask [community] for help?
  • How did [character] feel before and after being part of a community? Why did they change?
  • Why did [character] do [action] when there was a disagreement? Did this strategy work?
  • Why do you think [community] helped/supported [character]?
  • What would have happened to [character] if they didn’t have [community] support?

Building a Community Activities and Graphic Organisers

Before you check out the picture books about resilience below, I have made a pack of graphic organisers and activities to use with A Chair for My Mother.

I have a freebie that is part of this larger resource so you can try it out before buying anything!

Fill in the form below to get access to the FREE pack.

If you already have access to the free resource library, you will find the freebie in the Reading section.

Children’s Books About Community

We all need to feel a sense of belonging, whether it is within our family or the wider community. This book list supports children’s understanding of their place in the world and highlights how we can work together to support others and make a difference in local and global communities.

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy

A true story of kindness and compassion. After the devastating attacks on 9/11, a Maasai village in Kenya wanted to express their sympathy to a grieving America. They presented a gift of 14 cows, a symbol of life to the Maasai.

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

Sundar Paliwal valued gender equality, but his village only celebrated the birth of boys. He resigned from his job and became the leader of Piplantri. Sundar persuaded the villagers to celebrate the birth of girls by planting 111 trees. Over time, these trees provided food, water and the opportunity for women to earn their own living.

Use to promote environmental awareness, sustainability, gender equality, social development, community, responsibility and cooperation.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

Send a message to your students that everyone is welcome, no matter their race, religion, gender, culture or background.

Use on the first day of school to discuss inclusion, kindness, empathyacceptance and community.

Blackout by John Rocco

One hot summer night in the city, all the power goes out. One family go up to the roof to escape the heat and without the city lights, they can see the stars. Out on the street, neighbours are talking and playing, enjoying not being busy with technology. When the electricity come back on, everything goes back to normal… well almost.

Use to discuss a sense of community, appreciation, and balance.

A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams

Rosa, her mother and grandmother are devastated when their home is destroyed by fire. The community helps them by donating items they will need.

Promotes community, generosity, responsible decision-making and perseverance.

Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman

A young girl bands together with a group of children to influence change in their community. They realise they have the power to change the world for the better, big and small, with their words and actions and inspire others to do the same.

This first-person narrative poetry book promotes conversations about a sense of community, change, unity, hope, cooperation, kindness, activism and a growth mindset.

The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman

When Hassan and his family are forced to move to England because of war he feels lonely and out of place. He finds his new environment cold and grey compared to his colourful life in Somalia. Hassan feels more settled as he makes new friends and begins to appreciate the colours of his new home.

Promotes a sense of community, creativity and resilience.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

A young black boy expresses the importance of a visit to his local barbershop. He poetically describes how a fresh cut makes him feel like a king and the excitement of being surrounded by other men from his community.

Promotes relationship skills, self-esteem and self-confidence.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Liam’s curiosity leads him to explore an elevated train track. He discovers dying flowers and begins to nurture them. His dedication pays off when the flowers grow and start spreading over the city.

Promotes the environment, patience and a sense of community.

Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel

Living in Bogata are two Joses. One is a boy who can’t wait to visit the Paradise library every Saturday. The other Jose is a garbage collector who searches for books and adds them to his collection at home.

Promotes perseverance, community, and the power of books.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales recalls her own experiences of migrating from Mexico to America with her young son. They face many cultural challenges, including learning a new language and new customs. Her local library offers an opportunity to learn about this strange, new country and find a new career.

Read to discuss determination, resilience, independence, courage and hope.

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

Insects surround a new, green shoot and ask “Du iz tak?” They use a ‘ribble’ to climb the stalk and build homes on its branches. The shoot grows into a beautiful flower, but as the seasons change it wilts and the insects say goodbye to their home.

Promotes communication, a sense of community, vocabulary and inference.

The Extraordinary Gardener by Sam Boughton

The Extraordinary Gardener by Sam Boughton

Using his favourite book as inspiration, Joe plants a garden in his grey world. With a bit of patience, a garden with exotic plants and animals grows on his balcony and inspires the rest of the community.

Promotes a growth mindset, enthusiasm and perseverance.

For You are a Kenyan Child by Kelly Cunnane

A young boy forgets his responsibility of looking after his grandfather’s cows when he visits everyone in the village. When he returns to the cows they have gone. What will he do now?

Reinforces the themes of community and responsibility.

The Great Realisation by Tomos Roberts

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Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel

A young girl lifts her hands toward the sun, to reach for a book, get a high five and dance, among many other joyful activities. As she gets older, she joins in community protest marches, lifting her hand for change.

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

Tony Hillery turned an abandoned space in Harlem into an inner-city garden with the help of the community. Local children learn about sustainable eating, healthy living and collaboration. One man’s inspiring vision now provides thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to Harlem families.

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

A creative boy decided an abandoned wall in his neighbourhood creates a barrier. He empowers the community to come together to transform the wall into a piece of art.

Promotes messages of peace, a sense of community, creativity and empowerment.

The Invisible by Tom Percival

Isabel has moved with her family to a poor part of town. Living on a council estate, she fades away as one sees her as a person. She notices other people are invisible, including an immigrant, the homeless and the elderly. Isabel makes a positive difference to her community and the people often ignored by society.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

A grumpy CJ and his nana ride a city bus full of wonderful characters. He wonders aloud why he doesn’t have the things his friends do and why they have to volunteer at the soup kitchen every week. His nana’s straightforward and positive responses help CJ see and appreciate what he has and what he can give.

Read to promote discussions on community, poverty, volunteering, kindness, and optimism.

The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter

When war comes to Iraq, librarian Alia Muhammad Baker worries about her library and its books. With the help of the community, she starts to move the books to her own home. Through Alia’s courage and perseverance, much of the library collection is saved before the library burns down.

The Librarian's Stories by Lucy Falcone

Inspired by the bombings of libraries in Sarajevo and Mosul. A librarian sits in front of a bombed library and starts to read. She returns every day, sowing the seeds of hope in those who are listening.

Use to discuss war, a sense of community, hope and the power of words.

Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art by J. H. Shapiro

Tyree Guyton created art from trash in his poor Detroit neighbourhood. The city destroyed his creations, but this didn’t stop him from working to improve the neighbourhood and make it safer.

This biography promotes imagination, a sense of community, recycling, social justice, positive change and perseverance.

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner

Cornelius takes great pride in keeping the streets of New Orleans clean. After the Mississippi river breaks its banks during Hurricane Katrina, Cornelius inspires the community to come together to clean up the city.

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed A Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy

Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California. Mira is inspired by a mural artist to transform her grey city into colour. She, in turn, inspired the community to add their voice to the mural.

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloris Houston

A dedicated librarian, Miss Dorothy, creates a bookmobile to deliver library books to her Appalachian neighbours. Promotes a love of reading, community, compassion and determination.

My Wounded Island by Jacques Goldstyn

An Iñupiat community are forced to leave their home near the Arctic Circle because of the effects of climate change. They must decide whether to hold on to their old traditions or accept a more modern way of life.

Outside, Inside by Leuyen Pham

Celebrate essential workers and communities coming together in a book about the global pandemic. Suddenly, everyone was inside and the outside became quieter. Connect with the emotions felt by millions and how people became stronger.

The Red Prince by Charlie Roscoe

When strangers invade the city of Avala, they capture a young prince. Imprisoned far from home he escapes but his red pyjamas against the snow make it easy for the jailers to see him. The prince finds great kindness from those living in his kingdom as they defeat the captors by wearing red to hide the prince.

Smoky Night by Eve Bunting

Daniel and his mother watch the LA riots happening in their neighbourhood. After going to bed, they wake to learn their building was on fire. Daniel hesitates as they evacuate because he cannot find his cat, but it is later found by a firefighter.

Use to discuss racism, communities, conflict, synthesising, inferring and perspectives.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty

After Sofia’s Abuelo hurts his ankle at the Mount Trashmore, she brainstorms ways to make it safe. She develops a plan to turn it into a park, but when City Hall turns the idea down she gets the community involved to make her dream come true.

Promotes female role models, activism, problem & solution and determination.

Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

A teacher helps a young girl see beyond her scary feeling for her neighbourhood. She looks for beauty in her community with the help of her neighbours. Her beautiful journey helps her feel happy and hopeful.

Promotes a sense of community, poverty, responsibility and hope.

A Symphony of Whales by Steve Schuch

When Glashka discovers a pod of stranded beluga whales in Siberia she gathers the townspeople to help free them. Waiting for a Russian Icebreaker to arrive the people break the ice so the whales can breathe.

This true story promotes teamwork, compassion and community.

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Omu shares her delicious stew with everyone in the neighbourhood. They follow the amazing smell for a portion of Omu’s meal. Soon the pot is empty and her generosity means she has no stew left for herself. But the community show their gratitude by sharing their food with her.

Read to discuss community, kindness, gratitude, and generosity.

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Four children share their lives under the umbrella of love. It is a reminder that no matter the distance, our loved ones will always be there for us. The umbrella is a metaphor for love, acceptance, comfort, and safety.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

An Indigenous girl tells the reader of her village’s attempts to protect the water. One day a black serpent (oil pipes) will come to poison the water and it is the responsibility of her community to safeguard the water from harm and corruption.

Use this poetic book to discuss activism, environmental protection, and indigenous community.

What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack

When a family loses everything in a fire, the community come together to help. James wonders how he can contribute as he doesn’t think he has anything worth giving. He makes the daughter, Sarah, a book all about her. She is so delighted with this precious gift she presses it to her heart.

When the Rain Comes by Alma Fullerton

In rural Sri Lanka, Malini helps plant the rice crop for the first time. The ox-cart arrives full of seedlings and the driver asks her to care for the ox. The skies darken and the monsoon rain falls, separating Malini from everyone. Rather than running for safety, she saves all the seeds from ruin.

Use to teach responsibility, courage and problem & solution.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

A boy named Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge lives next to an old people’s home. His favourite resident is Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper. When Wilfrid finds out she has lost her memory he goes on a journey to discover what memories are so he can help Miss Nancy find hers.

Promotes a sense of community, friendship, compassion and different perspectives.

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith

You Hold Me Up illustrates the love and respect between intergeneration First Nations communities in Canada.

Use to discuss relationship skills, respect, a sense of community, empathy and resilience.

What Next?

The Northern Ireland Curriculum has three teaching units on community:

I have also found a couple of videos on community that may be useful to you in the classroom.

How do you build a positive classroom community? What are your favourite books to use to promote a sense of community?
Have you found it more important than ever to build a sense of community since Covid and lockdowns?

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Children’s Books about Building a Sense of Community

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