Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Theme: Giving to Make a Difference

Giant Steps to Change the World - (ISBN: 978-0689868153)

by Spike Leedy

Although this book looks deceptively simple, the quotes from inspirational workers give readers many things to think about. Use references to the leaders quoted in the book to discover more books about each person.

Human Footprint: Everything You Will Eat, Use, Wear, Buy, and Throw Out in Your Lifetime - (ISBN: 978-1426307676)

by Ellen Kirk

In this book, statistics show the impact people and their belongings have on our environment. Although people have made a difference, that impact has not been positive. What are some ways you can keep your own personal “footprint” from growing and further decimating the world’s resources?

Odd and the Frost Giant - (ISBN: 978-0061671739)

by Neil Gaiman

Odd decides to “run” away from home when things are not going his way. When he reaches the woods, he finds a bear trapped in a tree and tries to help free the creature. Eventually he discovers that other animals in the region are really gods who have been changed into animals by the “Frost Giant.” Using his wiles and a bit of magic, Odd successfully faces the giant! How does this book differ from other giant stories you have read?

Olivia's Birds: Saving the Gulf - (ISBN: 978-1402786655)

by Olivia Bouler

If you think you are too young to really make a difference in the world, read about 11-year-old Olivia and how she created and sold her own paintings of birds to assist with the Gulf oil spill recovery effort. In all, she raised nearly $200,000! In the book, you can view many of her original paintings. She even wrote the book herself! Think about important causes you care about. How can you make a difference?

Seedfolks - (ISBN: 978-0064472074)

by Paul Fleischman

When a young woman plants some bean seeds in an abandoned city lot, neighbors join her and plant more vegetables. Together, the international neighborhood grows food for its people, improves the look of the area, and builds a sense of community. Join your local community association and start a garden to make a difference.

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller - (ISBN: 9781416925422)

by Sarah Miller

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters - (ISBN: 9780375835278)

by Barack Obama

The Girl Who Owned a City - (ISBN: 978-0822596707)

by O.T. Nelson

The Heart of a Chief - (ISBN: 0-8037-2276-1)

by Joseph Bruchac

Activities for this Theme

Check out the volunteer opportunities in your community. How can you put your talents to work helping others?


Start your own book for collecting inspirational quotes. Illustrate it with original drawings, photographs, and downloaded graphics. Share it digitally with relatives and friends using Book Creator. 


Make a smile book. Get together with your siblings or best friends to do one kind thing a week for someone in your neighborhood or community. Take pictures of the smiles you receive and collect them in a book.