Sharing is hard.
Even for grown-ups. And especially if you don't know what will happen when you give something away. Will it come back? Will it get broken?
Someone once told me imagine if no one owned cars so you would never know if the car you took to the store would be there when you got back. I imagine lots of camouflaged cars. That is how it is for young children who can't really be expected to share until they understand the concept of ownership.
However, as children are learning these concepts and what it means to share, it is helpful to read books about sharing. These stories help children understand the consequences of not sharing and the benefits of sharing while developing empathy and problem-solving skills. I have organized these recommendations by age from youngest (infants and toddlers) to oldest (preschoolers and early elementary).
I Can Share: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Books) by Karen Katz presents ideas for different ways children can solve their sharing conflicts. Using common toddler conflicts, Karen offers a solution for how children can solve each issue. While reading this one, ask your children before you read the solution for their ideas about solving the problem.
When Llama Llama meets a new friend at his house, he does not want to share. However, after one of his toys is broken he realizes that sharing is better in Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney. Ms. Dewdney recently passed away and asked that instead of a funeral, we all read to our children, so this is a wonderful way to honor her wish.
Sharing Time (Toddler Tools) by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen is one more excellent book in a series that gently introduces children to positive social skills. Diverse children show the benefits of sharing.
Edward will not share any of his toys with his sister and grabs them all in The Boy Who Wouldn't Share by Mike Reiss and David Catrow. He ends up in the middle of a pile of his toys unable to reach the fudge his mom brings to him and his sister. Luckily, for him, his sister is nicer than he is so she shares with him. This helps him realize that sharing is the better way to go, and they have an enjoyable day together.
Wilfred owns a moose. Or, at least, he thinks he does until one day his moose wanders off and Wilfred discovers the moose has another name in This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers. A very cute book about how we can never really own another being, especially if it is a wild animal.
How many of you can relate to wanting the newest and coolest shoes, or pants, or coat? I certainly can and have watched my children feel the same way. But sometimes, you don't need new shoes or the money isn't there. Such is the case for the boy in Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts and Noah Z. Jones. He finally finds a pair that is too small and when he realizes that they really aren't comfortable he shares with a friend who also wants a pair.
Based on a true story, Tucky Jo and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco tells of the unlikely friendship between an army soldier and a young village girl during World War II. She shares cures for bug bites with him, and he shares food with the village. When the soldiers hear of bombers coming in, he helps to rescue the girl and her village. Years later, his kindness is repaid. A great discussion starter about how one never knows how sharing and kindness will come back to you, but it always does. Most appropriate for children over 3, because of the subject and the length, this book brought tears to my eyes with its very sweet ending.
When my children were toddlers and they had playdates, I would talk with them beforehand to let them know that they needed to share their toys, but that before their friend came over they could put anything that was special and they didn't want to share in the closet. And I would remind them that their friend was just using their toys while they were over and would not take them home. This helped to keep the sharing issues to a minimum.
As you read these books, talk about how
the characters felt when someone didn't share with them and how it feels to have someone share with you. Let your child know that people everywhere have the same feelings and want to be treated kindly. Brainstorm with your child ways they can share things or in completing chores.
As always, I hope you enjoy these recommendations. Feel free to share with credit to Words Reflected and Kim Bogren Owen on Facebook, your website, or in your newsletter. Please add your recommendations for additional books about sharing in the comments.
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