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I asked the librarian at my daughter’s pre-school for her top book recommendation to teach children about giving. To my surprise, she brought me The Giving Box by Fred Rogers from one of my favorite childhood shows Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I had no idea this little gem existed, but am so grateful to have found it now and am excited to share it with you.
This book is a wonderful parenting guide filled with ideas for families to discover and incorporate acts of kindness into their daily lives.
Teach What Giving And Receiving Truly Mean
The book begins by explaining what giving and receiving mean, and how parents can teach children to be gracious givers and receivers. Mr. Rogers offers several suggestions for how to make volunteering a family experience. Some ideas include working at a soup kitchen, delivering holiday meals, visiting nursing homes, helping neighbors with chores, and selling food or crafts as a fundraiser. He mentions an adorable song from the show all about ways to express love to others.
My favorite quote from the book is, “All of us at some time or other need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving a sweater, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors–in our own way, everyone is a giver and a receiver.” What a beautiful message to pass along to our children!
Mr. Rogers also includes a letter to children about being a helper. Listen to my favorite part of his letter below.
Share Meaningful Stories With Your Children
The second part of the book includes eight folk tales and fables from around the world. Each one contains a special message about giving. Although they are most likely geared to children in elementary school and older, Mr. Rogers encourages parents to put their own spin on the stories to reach any age. You can tell the stories in your own words and give examples from your family experiences to make them more relatable to your children.
How To Effectively Use The Giving Box
The last part of the book offers the best ways for families to use the Giving Box:
- Place your Giving Box somewhere in your house where everyone can see it everyday.
- Instill a sense of responsibility by encouraging your kids to put one-third of their allowance money in the Giving Box. You can read more about this here.
- Create rituals for adding money to the box, such as during weekly family dinners or at holidays.
- Work together as a family to choose where to donate the money collected.
Express Gratitude To Your Children
Finally, Mr. Rogers asks that parents be sure to thank their children for their good deeds. When we praise our children, their brain releases the chemical dopamine, which encourages them to do more to receive such praise. This makes them want to help others again and again. Keep the cycle going!
What are your favorite books about giving?