Firefighters, police officers, doctors, dentists, teachers and more! These are all people in our community that our kids see and can understand easily what they do to help our communities work. There aren’t too many books about human resource managers, real estate developers or writers because young children relate to what they know and have experienced. Here are some of our favorite books about community helpers for kids.
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The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a classic. I remember reading this as a child and was so pleased to see how much my son enjoyed reading it too. The story is simple, but they cover a lot of the questions a child who has never been or hasn’t been to the dentist in a while may have. I like that the tooth fairy is giving out dimes for teeth. What’s the going rate now?
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg has a special spot in my heart. It’s a book about not wanting to go to a new school, the first day is always the hardest and it’s easier to just stay in bed! The beauty of this book isn’t just the recognition of the anxiety about the first day but in the end, the twist is that it’s the teacher who has the jitters, not a student. I love this book and the power it has to help anxious kids, I have read it more than once to a jittery child and see how it can help first hand.
Librarian on the Roof! by M.G. King made me cry. The true story is about a librarian who did what she needed to do to raise enough money to make a functional children’s section in the oldest library in Texas. What she did was stay on the roof of that library for a week, and it worked. I loved the message that libraries are vital, that books open doors, and that providing access to information to those who can’t afford to get it on their own is a worthwhile cause. This book made me want to cheer. It had me spouting off lessons left and right to my kids. And it absolutely captivated all three of us. Go read this book and learn more about RoseAleta Laurell the real librarian on the roof.
Firefighters to the Rescue by Kersten Hamilton is a beautifully illustrated look at the heroic happenings of a group of firefighters. Unlike many of the other books on this list, we never bought this one. Simply because we took it out from the library so often. The retro illustrations are so beautiful and the refrain of “Firefighters to the rescue!” is so fun that my son was absolutely drawn to it. It’s simple and doesn’t go into too much detail which makes it a good choice for kids under 4.
Miss Mingo and the First Day of School by Jamie Harper is a delightful book. Miss Mingo is a flamingo and teacher who wants to know about her students on the first day of school. She starts the exercise by sharing some fun facts about being a flamingo, like why she is pink. Before you know it, the whole class of different animals are sharing. This book not only shows kids that it’s okay to share about themselves but it is full of fun facts about animals in the fine print. I learned something I never knew about a Narwhal! It is a bit long for a toddler but each page highlights new animals. It’s easy to skip a few for those that aren’t ready for a book of this length. This is going on my buy list!
Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy was a 4th birthday gift for my son and he was not interested at first. Maybe because of the plethora of Lego that was taking over our house. However, it has since been adored by both my son and daughter. It’s a story all about how a road is built , explaining what the crew does, and how each type of construction vehicle has a different role in building a road. I like that it explains the process from start to finish, in just the right level of detail for preschoolers. I also like that there is a female crew member and her participation is seamless .
Joe Kaufman’s Book About Busy People and How They Do Their Work by Joe Kaufman was such a big part of my childhood that I was nervous sharing it with my son, worried he’d reject it. He gobbled it up even though it is terribly out of date. (I think it was when I read it too!). The book is all about different jobs and all the responsibilities of them. I loved Trudy Teacher and like my son who loved Fred Fireman, I skipped Carlos the Clown. Even as outdated as it is, it’s useful for learning about community helpers. I didn’t notice the diversity of the jobs, and people in the book as a child but appreciate it as a parent.
A Day in the Life of a Garbage Collector by Nate Leboutiller was my son’s favorite book when he was my daughter’s age (3.5). This book focuses on the sanitation workers that make it all happen. From what time they have to get up, the safety measures they take, clothes they wear and how they drive the trucks it covers it all. Perfect for kids like mine that were always curbside waving at the garbage collector every week!
Policeman Small by Lois Lenski was first published in 1962 and is retro in all the awesome ways. Cute and cheery it”™s like a little Rockwell painting in a book! Policeman Small is about a policeman in a simpler time, a time that is perfect for little readers not looking for the reality of what police work is, instead looking for something simple. Books about community helpers like this are big hit with young toddlers.
Doctor Meow’s Big Emergency by Sam Lloyd was taken out of the library late last week and has been read at least twice a day since, we both know it off my heart. In the book readers meet Dr. Meow and her trusty ambulance driver Woof as they care for patience and rush to the aid of Tom Cat who has been injured falling out of a tree. Really it’s a story about being kind to others and forgiving. Tom Cat learns not to pick on little Mr. Bird and in turn, Mr. Bird forgives Tom Cat for his mistakes. Both my son and I loved the little cheeky details, humor, and fun little world that the author-illustrator created in this book.
Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo is one of the few books we have that we have bought twice. Our first copy was so well-loved that we knew when it could not be read anymore that it would be immediately replaced. This book is imbedded in my brain ( and heart). Both my children have gone through a phase where it’s their absolute favorite. The book takes readers through different vehicles like firetrucks, rescue helicopters and of course bulldozers. The repetitive text sticks in your head for days. But it’s OK because your kids recite it along with you.
Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora was another really touching book about the difference a library and caring librarian can make in the life of a child. Tomas’ parents are migrant workers and in the summer they travel from Texas to Iowa to work the fields for the summer. While in Iowa Tomas discovers the local library and befriends the librarian who signs books out on her own card for him. He reads all summer, shares the books with his family and develops a love of reading because someone took the time to reach out.
I loved this book and so did my son who was interested in the story but much more interested in learning more about migrant workers and what being poor is like. We have had very interesting conversations about these topics since. I love it when books about community helpers do that.
Delivering Your Mail: A Book About Mail Carriers by Ann Owen is a simple book about being a mail carrier. The text is to the point. Perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers learning about mail carriers for the first time. It focuses on not just what the mail carriers do but how it impacts the reader. This is paramount for young children who see the world through their perspective only. Cute beginner book!
Firefighter Frank by Monica Wellington was a huge score at the library. My son and I both love this author/illustrator and have read many of her books. But this one has never been available, and I can see why. The author has a knack for sharing information with her readers in a fun, simple way that is perfect for preschoolers. This book is no exception to her other great books about community helpers.
I particularly enjoy some of the vocabulary she uses in this book about Firefighter Frank. Words like shrill, intense, and exhausted. They aren’t obscure words but they are not often seen in books geared to those as young as this one. The context is supportive so that even a young child can help decipher the meaning of the words. The book itself tells a simple( and common) story. Between the author’s ability to tell the story better than other authors, and the bright and beautiful illustrations this book stands out from the firefighter crowd.
Curious George Goes to the Hospital by Margaret and H.A. Rey. I adored this book as a child and even though hospitals have changed a lot since this book was written the story still rings true. I remember reading this book before having to go to the hospital as a child and finding comfort in it. George gets into some trouble with a puzzle and ends up in the hospital with a bad tummy ache. It turns out that he swallowed a piece! The meat of the story is really the inside look at what happens in a hospital and how it’s really nothing to be afraid of. It’s a great book to read when you need to calm fears before a hospital stay. I am not the only fan of this book in our house. In fact, it’s one of my three-year-old daughter’s favorite books right now.
City Adventures, No. 3: Calling All Cars! (Lego Reader, Level 1) by Sonia Sander was the first Lego book we checked out from the library a while back. We quickly bought the book because when my son was learning to read he could read this one without any help. The story is a simple one about a bank robber and the police that must save the day. Stories like this really appeal to young kids because they are so black and white. The bad guy stole money, now the good guy will get him! What I love about them is that they involve him even more in the Lego world. And after reading he does go and create more.
Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha is my favorite garbage truck book, and yes I have read a lot. Mr. Gilly is a hard-working garbage man with one task, to clean up Trashy town. The text is so melodic I find myself singing while reading. “Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the trashy town”. It’s not all trashy time for Mr. Gilly though after a hard day’s work cleaning up Trashy town he gets into his bubble bath! My son loves that this big garbage collector has a bath just like him. Super sweet and colorful book that explains garbage collection is a nice way.