Are you looking for picture books that encourage cooperation in children? I thought it would be fun to find picture books that encourage cooperation and working with a partner. There are so many wonderful stories that model this for children. Read the stories with your children. See what they notice about the story’s lesson. See what they might agree with or try in their own lives.
Children’s Books That Encourage Cooperation
Yoga Friends by Miriam Gates and Rolf Gates, illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder Introduce your children to playful partner poses that they can do with a friend or sibling or parent. Read the simple text, look at the kids in the brightly-illustrated pictures, and copy the pose. The authors’ goal is to make yoga playful as well as focused. I think they succeed! You’ll also find the following partner poses: Lotus, Octopus, Owl, Boat, Drawbridge, Heart, Double Warrior, Tree, and Tree Variation.
Red & Yellow’s Noisy Night by Josh Selig
Red and Yellow live happily together in the Olive Tree. One night when Yellow wants to sleep, Red wants to be loud. What? It takes the two friends time to work out a solution but eventually Red plays quieter and Yellow likes it. In fact, he falls asleep to the music. This book is part of Little Light Foundation, a non-profit charity whose goal is to help children learn about conflict resolution and mutual respect.
Colors versus Shapes by Mike Boldt
The colors show the shapes how talented they are by mixing yellow and blue to make green. The shapes show the colors how two triangles combine make a square. They argue until . . . an octagon and the color red collide. Whoa! Maybe they are all better together. It’s silly fun about the power of cooperation!
A House in the Woods by Inga Moore
Little pig’s den becomes filled with friends but once Moose arrives, the den collapses. Oh, no! What will they do? Together the animals build a new house in the woods big enough to fit all the friends.
That Fruit Is Mine! by Anuska Allepuz
After the Rain by Rebecca Koehn, illustrated by Simone Kruger
What can you do after the rain? Levi plays boats and splashes in puddles until he meets Polly who doesn’t want to share her river. A battle begins. But the water starts to leave so the two declare a truce and cooperate to build a dam and a lake to play in together. A delightful picture book with simple, playful text, perfect for the preschool set to learn about friendship.
Prince and Pirate by Charlotte Gunnufson, illustrated by Mike Lowery
Prince and Pirate are two unique fish who live in their own fish bowls. Until one day they’re moved into a tank together. The two do not get along. AT ALL. They name-call and pester each other. UNTIL they work together to help the newest fish arrival, a small, scared dogfish. You’ll love the bright illustrations, hilarious dialogue, and (eventual) message of kindness.
Ella and Penguin Stick Together by Megan Maynor, illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet This will make a fun gift book since it contains glow-in-the-dark stars! This is a sweet story about a little girl and her penguin friend who work together to explore and decorate.
Frankie by Mary Sullivan
Frankie is going home from the shelter. There, he wants to figure out what his things are. Is the bed Frankie’s? No. It’s Nico’s. In fact, it turns out that the blankie, bed, rope, and puppy all are Nico’s. Poor Frankie. Will these two cute doggies ever learn to share? Gorgeous illustrations and simple text about the power of sharing makes this a wonderful picture book to use with children.
The Brownstone by Paula Scher, illustrated by Stan Mack The Bear family is ready for hibernation but first, they need to figure out the huge noise problem. This silly book shows all the animals working together to shift apartments so that everyone finds the best apartment for their needs. You’ll love the message and illustrations!
The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
Remember the story of The Little Red Hen? The Little Red Fort is the same set-up but with a girl-powered engineering twist. And it’s SO awesome — both the clever story and the fantastic illustrations!! Ruby asks her brothers to help her build something. They dismiss her idea. She isn’t daunted– she learns and does it herself. She invites them to help with all the steps in the process — making plans, gathering supplies, cutting the boards, hammering the nails — but they always decline. The illustrations show the boys playing outside, playing in the pool, playing on screen time. Of course, when Ruby is all done, the boys want to play in her fort but she says no. To apologize, the boys contribute to the fort — flowers, paint, and a mailbox — then they all have a fort-warming party. Also on: Engineering Picture Books for Kids
Claymates by Dev Petty, illustrated by Lauren Eldridge
Two Tough Trucks by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Hilary Leung
Some trucks at school are better at things than others. Like Mack. He’s good at everything and faster than his friend Rig. Except for going backward. That’s where Rig shines and can help Mack who realizes he can help Rig, too. And the authors do a great job with the rhyming text– and I’m very picky about rhyming.
Pencil: A Story with a Point by Ann Ingalls, illustrated by Dean Griffiths
What a great picture book that shows not only that technology isn’t everything but also incorporates punny humor and the success of a collaboration. Pencil and Jackson used to have a lot of fun together until Tablet came along. Pencil show Jackson all the other cool things he can do –but none of his ideas work. Not until the other office supplies help and find a clever way to get Jackson’s attention.
Violet and Victor Write The Best-Ever Bookworm Book by Alice Kuipers, illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
The Tallest Tree House by Elly MacKay A treehouse building competition turns dangerous until the fairy friends work together.
When Pigs Fly by James Burke
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
The humor isn’t in the story but in the illustrations. Kids get this right away; they go straight for the pictures and think it’s totally funny. Sam and Dave work together to dig a hole and dig and dig. But they find nothing. Except if you notice their dog, you’ll see that he’s sniffed out the world’s biggest diamond. All the while Sam and Dave never notice. Maybe working together should include your dog?
Mine! by Jeff Mack
Two mice each want the large rock. But first, they must get rid of the other mouse. Told in hilarious illustrations with only the word “mine“, you’ll crack up at the story and surprise ending. Maybe “mine!” isn’t best.
Please Please the Bees by Gerald Kelley
The Perfect Plan by Lean Gilbert
Maya is determined to make her dream of a cozy fort for reading and playing a reality so she gets to work. But, she realizes that she needs help so she recruits the forest animals to use their special skills to help her with the fort. The beavers help cut the wood, the moose lifts the heavy pieces, the bears help create a frame, and the birds help with the roof. A gorgeous forest setting featuring a determined girl who isn’t afraid to ask for help.
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren
In a small Danish fishing village, a Jewish family must escape World War II and the Holocaust in pitch blackness. The townspeople guide the fleeing family with whispers. This true story shows how people working together can do so much good — save lives, in this case.
Fair Sharesby Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by Anna Doherty
What is a fair share? This book introduces the concept that the SAME is not always fair. It shows Bear and Hare trying to reach the pears on the pear tree and how the same chair helps Bear reach but it doesn’t help Hare reach. Add this to your preschool and elementary libraries, it will be a helpful discussion starter.
Clairnet & Trumpet by Melanie Ellsworth, illustrated by John Herzog
This is a darling, punny story about friendship and…musical instruments! Trumpet and Clarinet are good friends who make harmonious music together. Until Obo arrives. Now, Trumpet feels left out so he and Trombone get loud and the woodwinds are annoyed. Soon, the two sides (brass and woodwind) collect more instruments for their side. When Saxophone arrives, the two sides see that they’ll sound better together. As you read, be sure to shake the book for some percussion noises!