Children's Books That Discourage Selfishness

Children are naturally selfish creatures. For the most part. Mine most certainly are. It’s always lovely to find stories that allows children to identify selfish behaviour and provide a springboard for parents to  discuss selfish behaviour and encourage kindness and consideration for others.

We have been having these discussions in our house lately and there have been three books that the children have not only enjoyed, but have also allowed us to talk through important life issues with.

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey is a new book released by Scholastic Press in July for $16.99

(Although at the moment it’s priced at $15.00 if you can find a school or centre with a scholastic book club to support.) Also, Scholastic has a Pig the Pug Colouring-In Competition if you have a child who likes to colour!

Pig is a pug dog who is greedy and selfish in most every way. He lives in an apartments with a sausage dog named Trevor. Trev seems like a very amiable guy, unlike Pug who flips his wig over the thought of sharing toys, piling the toys up to deny any access.

Unfortunately in his efforts to keeping the toys as MINE, Pig fall out the window, which is unfortunate because, “Well, pigs cannot fly.” My favourite line in the book, which unfortunately the children don’t ‘get’.

I think my 8 year old now understands with a long winded explanation. So, unfortunately Pig was a pug that had to learn his lessons the hard way.

Questions that we have explored with the kids:

How was Pug selfish?
Why it bad to not share your toys?
How can you share your toys nicely with others, even if you don’t want to?
Why was Trevor still nice to Pug? 
Do bad things happen to people when they don’t share? 
What nice things happen when you share?

Another clever book that examines selfishness is King Pig by Nick Bland.

(Scholastic Press, June 2013, RRP. $24.99, but you can find it in the current Wombat Scholastic book club for $12.50) King Pig is King over a flock of sheep. He literally walks all over them.

Although the long suffering sheep comply to King Pig’s demands, King Pig is disgruntled. They don’t adore him. King Pig sets about to make the sheep adore him, to no avail.

Finally, after a gentle challenge to try being nice, King Pig feels something he’s never felt before, he felt sorry. After this revelation he tries to make amends, which wasn’t perfect, but the sheep agreed it was a pretty good start. This was a hilarious read, and in true Nick Bland style, the illustrations were brilliant and captivating.

Questions we analysed with the children:

Why did the sheep complain?
What type of things can we do to make people smile?
Was King Pig a bully? Why?
Do bullies always realise that they are being bullies?
How do you think about other people’s feelings rather then just your own?
If we have nice things, and others do not, how should we treat others?
Can you force people to like you?
What makes people like you?

Boa’s Bad Birthday by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross was released in June and is a Koala Book from Scholastic Australia, with a RRP of $14.99.

Unlike the previous two stories, the central character is not selfish at all. In fact, if I was Boa’s Mummy, I would be proud of him indeed. (And if you read the story, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Boa’s Mummy has some pretty solid parenting strategies herself.) It’s Boa’s birthday and he is very excited to get many gifts from his friends. Unfortunately they all turn out to be poorly thought out gifts that don’t suit Boa at all. (For instance, how does a snake play a piano when he has no fingers, wear sunglasses when they slip off because he has no ears or nose, kick a football when he has no feet!)

It turned out that it was Boa’s worst birthday ever, all his gifts were rubbish. In time he discovered that dung beetle’s gift turned out to unexpectedly be the best gift ever. Which is why you should always thank people for gifts that stink, because you never know if it’s going to turn out to be a really great gift!

This story arrived the timing was perfect for when this book arrived in our house. It was prior to Jonty’s 8th Birthday, and we read it together and discussed
the morals that the story presented quite thoroughly. I’m afraid my children have been known to be ungrateful on the odd occasion after receiving presents they didn’t appreciate. We have often tried to talk about gratefulness and not being selfish prior to gifts being given before, but I don’t think the message has ever been delivered as effectively as it was when accompanied by this story.

We discussed:

Why was Boa disappointed? 
What would you say if you were Boa and you got those gifts?
Why did Boa still say nice things to his friends even though he didn’t like their gifts?
Do you think it was good that Boa didn’t tell his friends when he was feeling angry and frustrated?
Do you think his friends like Boa? Why?
Do people have to give you presents?
What did Boa’s friends do wrong when they brought him a present?
What do you need to think about when you give someone a present?
Have you ever had a present that you didn’t like at first but then found out later that it was a really great present?
What are some things you can say to people when they give you a present? 
Do people have to give you a present at all?
Without a doubt, this book is going to be a family classic. I will be putting it aside and re-reading it before birthdays, probably for many years. I highly recommend it if you have a child who struggles with being grateful for unwanted gifts. It’s also nice to build up the excitement prior to a birthday. As I wrote in my post. Jonty didn’t get many toys this year. When he opened presents, he was very gracious and grateful for what he received. I was so proud!

Today I’m linking up with Eva at the Multi Tasking Mummy.

The Multitasking Mummy

* Scholastic gifted me with these books. All opinions are genuine and my own.

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