What Is Given from the Heart

What is Given From the Heart

This book written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by April Harrison is a wonderful book to start the new year. As a parent I am always looking for children’s literature reinforces valuable lessons. Given From the Heart helps instill important lessons about being grateful, giving and dealing with great loss.

This story begins with the introduction of Mama and James Otis who are grieving the loss of their James’ father who recently passed away. “We were already poor, but we got poorer last April, when Daddy went to sleep on the front porch and never woke up.” James and his mama lost their farm and had to move to a shotgun home in the Bottoms. “Long was we have our health and strength, we are blessed, James Otis.”  It was difficult for the mother and son until there was an announcement at the their local church. Another family lost all everything in a fire and the Reverend asked the congregation for their help.

James can’t image trying to help another family since they were struggling but Mama explains to James that they need to help out. James struggled for find the perfect thing to give this family until one day he found the ideal gift. This gift was something that couldn’t be purchased. It was created with creativity and “given from the heart.”

Language Tips

As you are reading this book, define specific vocabulary as you are reading. Briefly discuss the difficulties that Mama and James experienced. How does Mama feel at the beginning of the story? How about the end of the story? This heart felt book can be read many times and can help build compassion and understanding for those less fortunate than us. It also shows how a community works together to help each other, which is what we all want no matter where we live.

Do you want to help?

Are you a teacher that has students that are hungry and in need of help? Check out this organization called No Kid Hungry. A great way to get involved as teacher is to help start a fundraiser to help other children struggling. Other ways to help is collecting food for your local food pantry.  This is a wonderful way of giving back and help others.

What Is Given from the Heart

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