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Volunteering and Philanthropy

Multimedia Bibliography on Volunteering and Philanthropy

While many children’s fiction books feature philanthropy as a theme, non-fiction materials are more difficult to find. Much of the non-fiction focuses on the environment, so this bibliography should help teachers and caregivers develop a more well-rounded selection when teaching about philanthropy. These items are suitable for a range of ages, from 3 to 12, as noted below. I used library catalogs, WorldCat.org, audible.com, and A to Zoo by Caroline Lima to find these items.

Phone and Tablet Apps

Bee Kind. Available from the Apple App Store. Free version.
A cartoon bumblebee teaches you to be kind to yourself and to others. Spin a wheel to generate ideas for good deeds. This creates an interactive To Do List that allows you to check off tasks and add your own. This is a very simple app that has a bright kid-friendly interface. Some tasks may be better suited for parents like “Give money to a charity,” but it works well overall for ages 6 and up.

Dr. Duncan Dog on Duty. By Lisa Dunn-Dern. Illustrated by Andrea Yomtub. E-book app available from the Apple App Store. $0.99.
With charming watercolor illustrations, this interactive e-book demonstrates the power of service. The little girl tells us that even the family pet has a job to do: he is a therapy dog. Readers are introduced to the idea that everyone has talents to share, and one important talent of dogs is their therapeutic presence. Features include read-to-me audio narrated by the pleasant voice of a young girl, auto play, and personalization of narration.

The Berenstain Bears Hurry to Help. Oceanhouse Media. Available from the Apple App Store. $3.99.
The Bear Scouts are earning their Good Deeds Merit Badge in this interactive e-book featuring Christian-oriented themes of philanthropy. The app features professional narration, background audio, and enlarged illustrations. Read to me, read it myself, and auto play.

Doing Good Deeds. Available from the Apple App Store. Written by Umm Ilhaam. $1.99.
Part of Darul Kitab’s Learn About Islam Series, this e-book app for the iPad introduces young children to a variety of good deeds that are in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah. Engaging narration accompanies beautiful illustrations.

Mitzvah Hunt. Available from the Apple App Store. Free.
This game app for the iPad features Jewish-oriented philanthropic lessons. Learn to observe the good rather than the bad by tracking the good deeds of others.


Franklin. / Franklin helps out
Author: Paulette Bourgeois; Brenda Clark; Nelvana (Firm); Family Channel (U.S.); Canadian Television Fund.; All authors
Publisher: [Toronto, Ont.] : Visual Education Centre Ltd., [2009]
Edition/Format: eVideo : Animation : Juvenile audience : English
Summary from WorldCat.org:
Mr. Owl sends his class out into the community to learn first hand, the benefits of volunteer work. By day’s end, Franklin has found jobs for everyone except himself and feels he hasn’t accomplished his goal.

Two Bobbies : a true story of Hurricane Katrina, friendship, and survival
Author: Kirby Larson; Mary Nethery; Jean Cassels; Nutmeg Media (Firm)
Publisher: [S.l.] : Nutmeg Media, [2010]
Edition/Format: DVD video : Juvenile audience : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary from WorldCat.org:
Based on a true story, Two Bobbies takes place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when many pets were lost or abandoned. A dog and cat wander together through the devastated city and miraculously survive hunger, floods and other dangers. When they are finally taken to an animal shelter, the volunteers discover that the cat is blind and could not have survived without the dog’s help. Although their owner or owners are never found, the two friends, re-named Bob Cat and Bobbi, find a new home and a happy ending to their ordeal. The story includes an authors’ note and a photograph of the real Bob Cat and Bobbi. Includes a conversation with the authors.

We all contribute & make a difference
Author: Noon E. Productions.; Clearvue & SVE, Inc.
Publisher: [United States] : Clearvue & SVE, [2007], ©2003.
Series: Government & citizenship collection.
Edition/Format: DVD video : Juvenile audience : English
Summary from WorldCat.org:
Illustrates the ways we all can make differences in others’ lives and in our country, and stresses the importance of participating, volunteering, and leading.

Winnie the Pooh: Helping Others. 1988. VHS Video. Also available in four parts on YouTube.
Four classic episodes of the 1990s television series are brought together in this compilation that features the theme of helping friends. The friends help Owl learn to sing, Piglet learn that his small size doesn’t make him any less important, etc.

Web sites

Ecogamer.org Environmental Games
This Web site is a compilation of links to and descriptions of games like Oil God and Eco Detective, which teach conservation. There is also the less obvious section devoted to games that teach social activism like Against All Odds where players have to make decisions as refugees from war-torn countries.

GenerationOn Service Projects. Ages 6-12.
This is a web site that gives children ideas and plans for community service projects. Projects are divided into interest categories and are simple and small enough that children won’t be overwhelmed. For example, kids can dress up as black cats on Halloween to advocate for the adoption of black cats, who often end up in animal shelters.

Hands on Central Texas
Children and adults can connect to volunteer positions with Central Texas organizations. The advanced search page provides a filter for volunteer activities appropriate for children aged 13 and under, including children’s book drives and animal shelter volunteer opportunities. “We work to provide volunteers with a high-quality experience that fuels further action and inspires individuals to stay involved in their community. We envision a day when everyone is inspired and equipped to change lives through service.”

Learning to Give from GenerationOn. Ages 6-10.
Games featuring a cartoon ant named Phil teach children philanthropy and money smarts.

Learning to Give Reading Worksheet
This is a worksheet to fill in while reading books with a philanthropy theme. Children can use this with the books in the “Further Reading” section at the end of this bibliography.

Peace Corps for Kids. Ages 10-14.
This interactive online game places kids in a village where they must solve ten critical issues as peace corps volunteers.


Unofficial Official Handbook of Good Deeds. Boy Scouts of America. DK Children, 2011. Ages 8 and up.
More than 300 simple things children can do in their communities show them that the small things you do every day can make a big difference in the world. Packed with fun projects that can be done alone or with a group, this guide gives readers a plan to improve their world one step at a time.

Lewis, Barbara A. The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference (Self-Help for Kids Series) 1995. Ages 10 and up.
This guide has something for everyone who wants to make a difference, from simple projects to large-scale commitments. Kids can choose from a variety of popular topics including animals, safety, health, and the environment. A special section gives step-by-step instructions for creating flyers, petitions, press releases, and more. “A good, not-too-preachy idea book for kids with a social conscience.”—USA Today

Lundsten, Apryl. Lend a Hand: Girl-sized ways of helping others. Illustrated by Josee Masse. American Girl. 2011. 9 and up.
The inspiration offered by this book makes it more than a book; it makes the reader take action! Girls can take a quiz to determine what type of giving suits her the best. Coupons for friends, family, neighbors like a “coupon for a quiet morning” can be removed and given out.

Audio Books

Parr, Todd. The EARTH Book. Hachette Audio, 2010. Narrated by Todd Parr. Ages 3-10.
From the publisher: With his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity, Todd Parr explores the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly audiobook. This book includes lots of easy, smart ideas on how we can all work together to make the Earth feel good – from planting a tree and using both sides of the paper, to saving energy and reusing old things in new ways. Best of all, the book includes tips and reminders on how kids can “go green” every day. Equally whimsical and heartfelt, this sweet homage to our beautiful planet is sure to inspire listeners of all ages to do their part in keeping the Earth happy and healthy.

Mortenson, Greg. Three Cups of Tea: Young Readers Edition. Penguin Audio, 2009. Narrated by Atossa Leoni, Vanessa Redgrave. 8 and up.
From the publisher: This young readers edition of the worldwide best seller Three Cups of Tea has been specially adapted for younger readers and updated by Greg Mortenson to bring his remarkable story of humanitarianism up to date for the present. Includes new photos and illustrations, as well as a special interview by Greg’s 12-year-old daughter, Amira, who has traveled with her father as an advocate for the Pennies for Peace program for children.

Silverstein, Shel. The Giving Tree. Harpercollins Juvenile Books, 1964. Narrated by Shel Silverstein.
A child and a tree share a friendship in which the tree gives and gives to the child. Introduces children to the idea that humans have a relationship with nature, and that we are stewards of the trees.


Lewis, Barbara A. The Kid’s Guide to Social Action: How to Solve the Social Problems You Choose-And Turn Creative Thinking into Positive Action (Dream It! Do It!) [Kindle Edition]. 1998. Ages 10 and up.
From the publisher: Newly revised, expanded, and updated, this award-winning guide includes everything kids need to make a difference in the world, from inspiring true stories to fill-out forms and up-to-date resources. The book includes step-by-step instructions for writing letters, doing interviews, making speeches, taking surveys, and more. B&W photos and illustrations.

For further reading:
The following are fiction books that feature themes of helping, volunteering, or philanthropy.

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Vet Volunteers Series.
This juvenile series features youth who volunteer at an animal shelter, making friends along the way.

Berenstain, Stan and Jan. The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need. 1999. 3 and up.
From the back cover: Stuff in the closets, stuff in the drawers, stuff in the attic–too much stuff everywhere! Mama Bear convinces the family that cleaning out the house can not only simplify their cluttered lives, but also benefit those who are in need!

Berenstain, Stan and Jan. The Berenstain Bears Lend a Helping Hand. 1998. 5 and up. From the back cover: When Mama concludes that there’s too much “Me, me, me!” in Brother and Sister’s behavior, she encourages them to help elderly Widow McGrizz deal with her full and messy attic. While the cubs are resistant at first, they soon find that there are rewards in giving a helping hand to those less fortunate.

Coerr, Eleanor. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. New York: Puffin, 1999. Ages 8-12.
Hospitalized with the dreaded atom bomb disease, leukemia, a child in Hiroshima races against time to fold one thousand paper cranes to verify the legend that by doing so a sick person will become healthy. She had folded 644 cranes when she died at the age of twelve; Sadako’s classmates finished the cranes after her death. Philanthropy themes of stewardship, pooled resources, and giving time, talent, and treasure.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Shiloh. Aladdin, 2000. Ages 8-12.
A young boy saves an abused dog, and he must work for the original owner to pay for the pet he loves.

Peck, Richard. A Year Down Yonder. New York: Penguin Putnam, 2000.
During the Depression, a fifteen-year-old girl apprehensively leaves her home in Chicago to spend a year with her intimidating grandmother who lives in rural Illinois. After time she finds herself appreciating and admiring her grandmother’s uniqueness and comes to love the small town and its quirks that she dreaded at the start. Philanthropic acts throughout book; community theme, and costs and benefits of philanthropy to giver.

Compiled by Hannah Farmer, MSIS Candidate 2014.

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