Mother and Baby

The best books for teaching children to share

How many play dates have you spent barking 'Sharing is caring!' only for the tussle to resume the second you return to adult conversation?

Sharing may be fundamental to co-operative play, early friendship and sibling harmony, but it's a notoriously tricky concept to explain. Understandably, for many toddlers giving up a preferred toy feels counter-intuitive and frankly unfair. One of the best ways to promote sharing is via picture books because children get to see the benefits of sharing (or the consequences of not-sharing) played out over the whole story.

Which is rather more effective than simply being told to 'Hand it over!' in the heat of the moment...

In this story Llama gets stressed when Nelly Gnu comes over and wants Llama's treasured Stuffie. Peace is restored via a pretend cake, and Llama is ultimately converted to sharing. Children seem to love this series, meaning any lesson stands a higher chance of sinking in. 

This is the classic picture book on the importance of sharing-about three little frogs who must learn to work together in the pond. As always, Leo Lionni's winning illustrations convey their moral with no compromise on charm. 

If your child responds better to literal messages about good behaviour than fables, this could be the book for you. Clear, but gentle, it also comes with helpful tips for parents on encouraging good manners.

A funny tale of failing to share, Kang's award winning visuals are guaranteed to spark giggles as well as conversations about what it means to be a good friend. 

Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter by Axel Scheffler

In this delightful pre-school drama, best friends Pip and Posy fall out over a snatched scooter. I love this series (as do my children) because the absence of parents makes it feel as if the characters are learning lessons for themselves rather than obeying adult diktats.

Two squirrels, Bruce and Cyril, both want the last pinecone in the forest. Racing to get it first they almost meet a sticky end, before finally learning to co-operate. Better for slightly older children, this has a catchy rhyming text and is illustrated by Jim Field of Oi Frog fame.

Rabbit is a greedy carrot hoarder, to the point that his haul threatens to take over his house...Will he ever learn to share? This is a great one if, like many pre-schoolers, your child engages more readily with books about animals than with literal representations of children. 

A familiar toddler dilemma (should you share your ice cream) played out in Mo Willem's much loved Gerald and Piggie series. One that many adults might do well read, too. 


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