Teaching Character Through Literature: Stewardship

January 1, 2021 | Cheryl McCabe

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

STEWARDSHIP: The careful and responsible management of things entrusted to one’s care, including one’s mind, body, time, money, environment and property, with proper regard to the rights of others. 

Catch phrase: Take care of your stuff; take care of their stuff!

When we think about stewardship, some of us usually think about managing money, and though it’s certainly a good idea to teach kids how to make wise financial choices, perhaps you could ask your kids these questions: What about managing one’s mind? Are we careful about how we use our minds, and what we fill them with? How can we take good care of our bodies? What about being good stewards of our time, and using it with proper regard for others? How do you think we can best be responsible for our property, or the environment? Try having a conversation with your children about these aspects of Stewardship, and see what they think. Let’s take a look at what one of our wonderful librarians has chosen for us this month.

Part of good stewardship is doing our chores to take care of our homes and our school.

POOF! by John O’Brien
A sleepy wizard and his wife argue—politely—over the household chores. Their crying baby wakes them from their naps. Since it is the wizard’s turn to change the baby, he quickly waves his magic wand and POOF! the baby turns into a cat. It is the wife’s turn to feed the cat, but with one wave of her wand, POOF! she transforms it into a dog. It is the wizard’s turn to walk the dog, but POOF!…. The wizards continue their contest, transforming the weather, their house and finally themselves. A great read aloud. (For ages 3+)

In a Minute, by Virginia Miller
Ba (little Bartholomew bear) wants his father George to play with him. But George has housework to do, and keeps saying: “in a minute!” When the older bear finally has time to play, he discovers what little Ba wants to do: carry firewood, bring in laundry, and sweep. Miller’s Bartholomew Bear books are lovely, if you don’t mind George shouting once in a while. (For ages 3+)

Good Work, Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parrish
Our favorite literal-minded housekeeper turns the household upside-down when she tries to make sense of Mr. and Mrs. Rogers’ list of chores. (For ages 6+)

“Time management is one of the most important aspects of our stewardship,” one busy mother chided, on her way out the door…

Over-scheduled Andrew, by Ashley Spires
Andrew loves acting so much that he joins the drama club. To improve his work on the stage, he joins the debate club, with karate and ballet classes to help improve his work on the stage. He has so many talents and interests… soon Andrew is debating his way through karate, dancing through debate, playing bagpipes on the tennis court, sleeping through his 15 minutes of best-friend time. Can he find a way to focus? (For ages 4+)

See You Later, Procrastinator!, by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick
Provides ideas and tips to help kids kick the procrastination habit and feel more in charge of their lives. An entertaining book in the Laugh & Learn series. (For ages 10+)

Just a Second, by Steve Jenkins
This nonfiction picture book explores time and how we think about it in a different way – as a series of events in the natural world that take place in a given unit of time. A linear series of striking photocollages illustrates fascinating facts, starting with a second, a minute, an hour, a month, and a year. What happens in a just a second? A vulture in fight flaps its wings once. A shrew’s heart beats 14 times. A hummingbird beats its wings 50 times. A gnat beats its wings 1000 times. A dropped stone falls 16 feet. Earth travels 18 miles in its trip around the sun. (For all ages)

Natural Resources
We are called to be good stewards of the Earth and all our natural resources.

The Lonely Giant, by Sophie Ambrose
In the middle of a vast forest lives a giant who spends his days hurling and heaving, smashing and bashing. Over time, the animals flee as their homes vanish, the birdsong dwindles away to silence, and, finally, the forest itself disappears. Now the lonely giant misses the crackling warmth of a fire and the sweet songs of the yellow bird — but will he realize it’s up to him to restore what he loves? (For ages 3+)

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, by D.B. Johnson
Inspired by a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Henry and his friend agree to meet one evening in Fitchburg, which is thirty miles away. Each decides to get there in his own way: one by train, and one on foot. Henry’s friend works to earn train fare, doing chores for Mrs. Alcott, Mr. Emerson, and Mr. Hawthorne, while Henry walks the thirty miles, enjoying the natural world as her goes. Minimal text and beautiful stylized paintings (also highly recommended by the same author: Henry Works, and Henry Climbs a Mountain, inspired by Thoreau’s Walden and Civil Disobedience). (For ages 4+)

Just a Dream, by Chris Van Allsburg
Young Walter doesn’t understand why he should take care of the earth, until one night he travels on a fantastical adventure into an overcrowded and polluted dreamscape world that wakes him up to a more eco-friendly way to live. Beautiful and eerie illustrations. (For ages 4+)

Wild Wings, by Gill Lewis
When Callum spots crazy Iona McNair on his family’s property, she’s catching a fish with her bare hands. She won’t share the fish, but does share a secret. She’s discovered a rare endangered bird, an Osprey. Poachers, egg thieves, and wild weather are just some of the threats, so Iona and Callum vow to keep track of the bird and check her migratory progress using the code a preservationist tagged on her ankle, no matter what. But when one of them can no longer keep the promise, it’s up to the other to do it for them both. Set against the dramatic landscapes of Scotland and West Africa, this is a story of unlikely friendships and the everyday wonders of the wild. On the list for the Intermediate Battle of the Books. (For ages 8+)

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen
Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy’s attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls living on the building site of a new restaurant. This hilarious adventure involves new kids, bullies, pancakes, alligators, eco-warriors, cute pint-sized owls, and more. A Newbery Honor winner.(For ages 10+)

Part of good stewardship is care of money

Follow the Money!, by Loreen Leedy
This picture book depicts a day in the life of a quarter (named George, of course!) and his travels from the time he is minted until he is deposited in a bank, ready for the next day’s adventures. A great book for practicing simple equations, learning about basic economics, and gaining an appreciation for the value of money. (For ages 5+)

The Everything Kids’ Money Book, by Diane Mayr
This book tells kids about where money came from, how to make and save money, and how to spend it wisely, from allowances to lemonade stands to savings accounts. Activities include making penny spiral towers and cooking silver-dollar pancakes. (For ages 7+)

Want more resources? Read Character Counts: Stewardship.

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  1. Pingback: Character Counts: Stewardship | Wisdom Wonder Project

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