What is Given from the Heart

What is Given from the Heart, by Patricia C. McKissack

This is such a sweet story about the power of community, kindness, and giving. James Otis is a young boy who lives with his mother, who works hard to just scrape by. His family has been through its share of hardships, but when a little girl’s family loses their house in a fire, he and his mother, along with their church, find ways to share what little they have. The reverend’s words, “What is given from the heart reaches the heart” help James think of the perfect gift for the little girl.

This book serves as a valuable lesson about the importance of helping others and being generous, regardless of what we have. Despite the many obstacles James and his mother have faced, they find ways to help others in their community and in turn, their community cares for them. It can be difficult for young children to understand why they can’t always get what they want, and so it is important for them to read about characters that are giving and appreciative of what they have.

After reading, ask the following questions:

  1. What are some of the hardships that James and his mother have faced?
  2. What do you think the Reverend means when he says, “What is given from the heart reaches the heart”?
  3. Why does Mama make an apron out of her nice tablecloth?
  4. What is special about the gift that James gives to Sarah? How does Sarah feel when he gives it to her? How does it make James feel?
  5. How did the community help James and Mama?

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