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Children’s Books about Building a Sense of Community
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Picture books provide a visual way to explore different cultures and create a sense of community in the classroom. These picture books about community are an ideal way to show what it means to be part of a larger society and how our actions impact our communities.

Feel Empowered with Incredible Picture Books About Community

Why Read Picture Books About Community Building?

Reading picture books about community provides a visual way to explore the world around us and demonstrates how we are all connected in a larger, global society. Picture books provide an accessible and enjoyable way to share ideas about interconnectedness, generosity, equality, and community. 

Reading these books allows students to develop a strong connection to the world around them, creating a common understanding that leads to healthy relationships and collaboration.

This understanding helps build stronger community relationships and fosters an overall sense of belonging that promotes acceptance and open-mindedness among individuals from different walks of life.

Picture books about community also show what it means to be part of a larger society and how our actions impact our communities. 

Additionally, reading picture books featuring characters from diverse backgrounds helps normalise diversity for your students. Children identify with characters who look like them and enjoy reading about those from different backgrounds. This connection helps them better understand experiences beyond their own lives and encourages empathy for others. 

Reading picture books about community and belonging gives your students examples of how community building leads to positive outcomes, including:

  • Improving the quality of life of those living in the community.
  • Understanding their role within a community.
  • Community members support each other and work together.
  • Compassionate attitudes towards those in need.
  • Embracing those from outside the community.
  • Making social connections with others.

Providing a sense of identity and belonging.

Feel Empowered with Incredible Picture Books About Community

Building a Positive Classroom Community

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

  • Feeling a sense of belonging.
  • Feeling safe and a valued member of the classroom community
  • Strengthening relationship skills and decreasing loneliness.
  • Improving negotiating skills.
  • Self-management of emotions.
  • Teamwork and cooperation.
  • Trust and understanding of classmates and the teacher.
  • Increasing responsibility.
  • Developing new interests.
  • Having support for personal and academic growth.

Questions for Picture 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 do to build a positive/respectful community? (listening, etc.)
  • What can we do if there is a disagreement within our classroom community?
  • What do you expect from a community/classroom 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? What difference would this help have made?
  • 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? What did you think of this strategy?
  • Why do you think [community] helped/supported [character]?
  • What would have happened to [character] if they didn’t have [community] support?

FREE Activities for Black History Month

Change Sings Activities and Read-Aloud Questions

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Fill out the form below for the FREE activities for Change Sings will be sent to your inbox.

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Picture Books About Community

We all need to feel a sense of belonging 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 help others and make a difference in local and global communities.

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.

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

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

Send a message to your students that everyone is welcome, regardless of race, religion, gender, culture or background.

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

All Are Welcome Activities and Comprehension Questions

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.

Blackout by John Rocco

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.

A Chair for My Mother Activities and Comprehension Questions

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.

Change Sings Activities and Comprehension Questions

Claire Malone Changes the World by Nadia L. King

Claire Malone takes on the burden of addressing problems in the world. She does all she can to make changes, but it doesn’t work out the way she wants. Before burning out from the worry, she decides to work on issues closer to home and even learns to have fun.

Read to start discussions on being knowledgeable, persuasion, community action, persistence, responsible decision-making, and being well-balanced.

Claire Malone Changes the World by Nadia L. King

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.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

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 spread over the city.

Promotes the environment, patience and a sense of community.

The Curious Garden Activities and Comprehension Questions

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 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.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales Activities and Comprehension Questions

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.

The Extraordinary Gardener by Sam Boughton

Fadya and the Song of the River by Laura Nsafou

Between the Malian deserts, Mauritania’s rivers, and the crisp African air, a song can be heard every day, as long as the wind isn’t blowing too hard. It is the song of the Luminaries, a group of women with powerful magic wearing long golden dresses. It is Fadya’s, the youngest of the Luminaries, mission to restore the balance disrupted by two fishermen inadvertently awakening the wrath of the Goddess of the River. 

Fadya and the Song of the River by Laura Nsafou

Flooded by Mariajo Ilustrajo

A small animal appeals to the larger animals of the city not to ignore the flooding that started overnight. As the water rises, the larger animals go about their business, ignoring the issues the smaller animals face. When the flood becomes a problem for everyone, they all work together to save their city.

Promotes discussions on how problems get bigger if ignored, teamwork, taking action, problem and solution, and responsible decision-making.

Flooded by Mariajo Ilustrajo

From My Window by Otavio Júnior

The narrator describes what they see from their window in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. As the sun rises, he sees children going to school, someone fixing a roof, people playing football and flying kites and sees fireflies at night.

Read From My Window to promote discussions on first-person narration, point of view, and a sense of community

From My Window by Otavio Júnior

The Girl Who Planted Trees by Caryl Hart

A young girl is inspired by her grandfather to plant a new forest in her village. Despite the difficulties, she preserves, and the saplings peak through the earth. Just as her hard work pays off, the trees are destroyed by a storm. This tragedy brings out the villagers to help the girl recreate the forest.

Promotes discussions on hope, deforestation, inspiration, determination, resilience, optimism, and a sense of community.

The Girl Who Planted Trees by Caryl Hart

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba

Watch as a group of neighbourhood children come together to create a community garden in the middle of the city. Promotes community and cooperation.

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba

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 community’s help. 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.

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

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.

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

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

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

A group of New York neighbours got together to see what they could do with the derelict elevated train line running through their community. With the city’s help, they transformed the tracks into a must-see urban green space. The New York High Line inspired cities worldwide to transform derelict tracks into green community spaces.

Read The High Line to promote discussions on pollution, change, activism, community, collaboration, innovation, and nature.

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

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.

The Invisible by Tom Percival

Jake Makes a World by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

Artist Jacob Lawrence found creative inspiration in the people and streets of Harlem’s vibrant colours and characters in Harlem. From his mother’s apartment, coloured brightly with intricate patterns, to the streets full of faces, sounds, rhythms, and smells.

Read Jake Makes a World to promote discussions on inspiration, creativity and community.

Jake Makes a World by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

Journey of the Midnight Sun by Shazia Afzal

Different people come together to move the Midnight Sun Mosque to Inuvik in Canada’s Arctic for a small, growing Muslim community. The mosque travels over 4,000 kilometres through narrow roads, bad weather and incomplete bridges. It only just makes the deadline to catch the last barge up the Mackenzie River before it freezes.

Read to promote discussions on community, cooperation, places of worship, kindness, and perseverance.

Journey of the Midnight Sun by Shazia Afzal

Keeping the City Going by Brian Floca

The typically busy streets are quiet and empty, except those keeping the city running smoothly. These people help the residents stay healthy, be safe, deliver the mail, stock the shelves and carry out deliveries. Keeping the City Going shows appreciation for those who support communities in uncertain times.

Use to discuss communities, uncertainty, gratitude, well-being, appreciation, and resilience.

Keeping the City Going by Brian Floca

The Last Garden by Rachel Ip

Zara grows fruit and vegetables in her garden, the last one in the city. Members of the community take solace in her garden until war arrives and everyone is evacuated. Once the war was over, Zara returned to find her garden and a community ready to help her rebuild.

Read to discuss the effects of war, hope, community, and cooperation.

The Last Garden by Rachel Ip

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 weekly. His nana’s straightforward and positive responses help CJ see and appreciate what he has and can give.

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

Last Stop on Market Street Activities and Comprehension Questions

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 community’s help, she moves 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 of Basra by Jeanette Winter

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 listening.

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

The Librarian's Stories by Lucy Falcone

The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman

In Kabul, the library bus travels to villages and the refugee camp. It is Pari’s first day as a library helper for her Mama, who tells her girls were once forbidden to read in Afghanistan. The Library Bus, full of books, not seats, allows girls to learn to read and write in English from Pari’s mother.

Read The Library Bus to promote discussions on resilience, community, hope, gender equality, knowledge, and libraries.

The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman

The Lost Homework by Richard O’Neill

Sonny lives in a Traveller community and often helps his neighbours. One weekend he is so busy and loses his homework. He explains to his teacher what happened, and she surprises him by telling him all the subjects he covered while helping those in his community.

Read The Lost Homework to promote discussions on the traveller community, hard work, organised, and thinkers.

The Lost Homework by Richard O'Neill

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.

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

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. A mural artist inspires Mira to transform her grey city into colour. She, in turn, inspired the community to add their voice to the mural.

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

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.

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloris Houston

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.

My Wounded Island by Jacques Goldstyn

Nour’s Secret Library by Wafa’ Tarnowska

Two Syrian children use books to build a sense of community despite the war. They salvage books from bomb-out homes and create a library in the basement of a half-collapsed building. The library became a safe haven for many and a beacon of hope in the darkness of war.

Use to discuss the effects of conflict and how small actions can help people through adversity.

Nour’s Secret Library by Wafa' Tarnowska

Our Tower by Joseph Coelho

In Our Tower, poet Joseph Coelho uses his childhood experience growing up in a tower block. Three children explore a magical forest next to their home where green takes over from the grey of their tower block. When they return home, they see the tower block differently and appreciate their home and community.

Read to promote discussions on appreciation and community.

Our Tower by Joseph Coelho

Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds

Discover how your voice matters. There are situations every day when our words and actions have power. It is important to speak up when we see injustice to help those around us understand and react with empathy and compassion.

Read to promote discussions on activism, compassion, kindness, social justice, community, self-expression, and communication.

Say Somethings by Peter H. Reynolds

Smoky Night by Eve Bunting

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

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

Smoky Night by Eve Bunting

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.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez Activities and Read-Aloud Questions

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.

Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

The Story Blanket by Ferida Wolff & Harriet May Savitz

Children love to sit on Babba Zarrah’s story blanket and listen to her stories. She notices villagers who need to keep warm in the snow-covered mountains. She secretly unravels her blanket and leaves gifts for her neighbours, like socks or a scarf. When the villages find out what Babba is doing, they return the favour. 

Read The Story Blanket to promote discussions on community, generosity, sharing and problem-solving.

The Story Blanket by Ferida Wolff & Harriet May Savitz

The Tree of Hope: The Miraculous Rescue of Puerto Rico’s Beloved Banyan by Anna Orenstein-Cardona

An ancient banyan tree grows on the island of Puerto Rico; the locals loved it. The island was devastated during the devastating Hurricane Maria, and the banyan tree was uprooted. The local community came together to save the tree, jagüey blanco, for it to live another day.

Promotes discussions on community, cooperation, kindness, point of view, determination, overcoming adversity, never giving up, and hope.

The Tree of Hope: The Miraculous Rescue of Puerto Rico’s Beloved Banyan by Anna Orenstein-Cardona

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

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

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

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissac

Find out what it means to be a good citizen. Different children show how their actions generate an active and supportive community. Practical ways to change the world positively include picking up litter, planting a seed, helping a neighbour, joining a cause and writing a letter.

What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack

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, Wilfrid 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.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

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.

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith

Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

Every morning, the Peruvian rainforest calls to Zonia. She walks through the green forest accompanied by a blue morpho butterfly. She greets different creatures – sloths, birds, jaguars, dolphins, a boa constrictor, and turtles. One day, she is shocked to discover part of the rainforest has been destroyed. Zonia and her Asháninka community become activists to protect the rainforest, its inhabitants and their home.

Read Zonia’s Rain Forest to promote discussions on indigenous communities, activism, preservation, the effects of humans on the environment, and taking action.

Zonia's Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

In Conclusion

Picture books offer a unique opportunity to teach children about the importance of community. By introducing stories that demonstrate mutual respect, kindness, and understanding, we can create a better world by helping to foster conversations and inspiring empathy within our classrooms. 

I have also found some videos on communities 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?

Share this book list with a colleague who would find these books useful in their classroom!

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Feel Empowered with Incredible Picture Books About Community

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