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Our Children's Bookshelf is updated each month with a curated list of exciting reads, compiled by a trusted librarian from one of Connecticut's invaluable public libraries.  

Children's Bookshelf - December 2020

View Previous Children's Bookshelf Articles

Beyond the Giving Tree
by Lydia Holland

  As the giving season begins, I often get patrons asking me for book recommendations on the act of giving. Sometimes, they ask me for the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. A classic, to be sure, but a story that always makes me feel a little sad for the tree. She gives (and gives, and gives, and gives) until she’s nothing but a lonely stump. And what does she get in return? Not much. Yes, she loves the boy and that’s why she gives unconditionally, and that can be a good lesson for children. Sometimes you give, and get nothing in return, and the point is the giving. But the tree doesn’t seem to find much happiness in giving.   When I recommend books with the theme of giving, I like to focus on ones where someone gives joyfully and is changed in the process for the better. Mostly, this change is intangible; there is joy in generosity in and of itself, and giving doesn’t always mean receiving something material in return. It’s about what the giver can learn about themselves and the world around them in the process. The following books focus on the act of giving and the joy it brings for kids of all ages.

Harold Loves His Woolly Hat
by Verr Kousky

 In this sweet picture book, Harold the bear wears his beloved striped woolly hat everywhere he goes. He wears it to bed, to school, and even during his monthly bath. When a crow steals the woolly hat right off poor Harold’s head, he goes through a series of trades in order to get his favorite hat back. But when he discovers that it is being used to keep the crow’s three babies warm, he has to decide what really makes him special. Is it Harold’s hat, or his big heart? 

What is Given From the Heart

by Patricia C. McKissack

  When Reverend Dennis announces that the congregation will make “love boxes” for families who are needy right before Valentine’s Day, James Otis struggles to find something to add to the love box Mama is making for the Temples. The Temples lost everything in a fire, and as Mama transforms a tablecloth into a beautiful apron for Mrs. Temple, James Otis goes through his possessions, finding each one unsuitable for the love box. Finally, he decides to make a book for Sarah Temple. When they return home, James and Mama find their own love box waiting on their doorstep.

The Invisible Boy

by Trudy Ludwig


  A gentle picture book about a boy who feels invisible. No one seems to notice Brian or include him, until new student Justin joins his class. Through a series of small acts of kindness, Justin is able to help Brian find ways to be seen. The perfect book for the quieter child in class who needs some help coming out of his shell, or for the kid who is looking for ways to help shy classmates.

The Vanderbeekers Series

by Karina Yan Glaser


  This excellent middle grade series features the Vanderbeeker children of Harlem and their various adventures in their community. Every book includes some act of giving, from building community gardens to helping a homeless friend. This is a great series for middle graders who are exploring themes of generosity and kindness. 

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess
by Shari Green


When Macy is sent unwillingly next door to help her elderly neighbor prepare for her move to an assisted living facility, friendship blooms. Acts of giving on both ends create a base on which this friendship grows into something great, showing children that something as simple as giving their time to help their neighbors can create a friendship; even with someone they thought they had nothing in common with.

The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days

by Michele Weber Hurwitz


  In this tween read for kids 10-14, 13-year-old Nina Ross is searching for her “thing.” It’s not shopping, or makeup, or boys. So she hatches a plan. For all of the 65 days of summer, Nina will do one good thing for someone in her neighborhood. The question is, will all these small kindnesses really make a difference?

Events at the E.C. Scranton Library

  The E.C. Scranton Memorial Library is offering many fun, virtual and take-home programs this winter. Come by on Tuesdays to pick up your Take Home Tuesday craft kit, or on Wednesdays to pick up an Outdoor Craftivity kit, focused on activities and projects that will get your children outside (even if it is a little cold!). Our monthly cooking kit, What’s Cooking?, will be available on Thursday, December 10. This month we’re making festive, easy popcorn balls! All kits are first come, first served, no registration required.  


Join us virtually for our Winter Storytime on Monday, December 14 at 11 a.m. on Facebook Live or call us to sign up for our virtual Craft Fair on Saturday, December 12 at 10 a.m. The fair is open to crafters of all ages. Give us a call at 203-245-7365 to sign up and for more information. For more upcoming programs, visit our online calendar at  


The E.C. Scranton Library is located at 801 Boston Post Road in Madison.


Lydia Holland is Head of Children’s Services at the E.C. Scranton Memorial Library. 

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