Learning to Be Generous: A Review of ‘If you Plant a Seed’


“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi

“Acts of generosity are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.” – St. John Chrysostom

Reading level

Pre-K – Grade 2

Review and Comments

If You Plant a Seed is a wonderful book that will inspire young children. The story expresses how deliberate selfishness and then small acts of kindness can transform into either negative or positive events. The absolutely beautiful illustrations visually capture the imagination and perfectly enhance this story of few words.

It all begins when a rabbit and mouse plant a variety of vegetable seeds in a garden.  While they wait for the seeds to grow, the reader can inspect and enjoy the illustrations of time passing. Finally, the plants are perfectly delicious looking, and the pleasure of the two friends is obvious.  In the midst of the mouse and rabbit enjoying their garden meal, a few bird friends are watching…. hungrily staring actually. It is very obvious they want some of the garden bounty also. 

The rabbit and mouse have a decision to make.  They can share or they can withhold.  The ever so small temptation to withhold is allowed to grow and becomes so large it affects all the animals in the garden in a sad, troublesome way.  No one is untouched by the disturbance.  The mouse and rabbit reconsider their first reaction and decide to kindly share their garden food with the birds.  This small act of generosity has amazing results.  The birds return with bounteous gifts of seeds for the garden.

It is again time to wait for the garden to grown and enjoy the illustrations of the passage of time.  In the end, the garden is even more abundant, and the birds, rabbit, mouse, and many other animals feast together in friendship.

This is an excellent read aloud book for children in the suggested reading level or even older because of the uplifting story line. 

Possible Concerns

There are no concerns with this book.

Further Discussion

  • Author, Kadir Nelson, is the winner of the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Awards.
  • Character development:

Characters can start out one way and end up completely different because of what happens to them along the way. These familiar characters are other good examples of the consequences of greed and how their lives changed: King Midas, the Grinch, and Scrooge.

  • Characters:
  • Identify the birds and other animals in the story.  Alphabetize the names of the animals.
  • Write a possible conversation between the birds and the rabbit and mouse when they first interact in the garden.  What do you think they are saying?
  • Make a salad:

Identify as many vegetables as you can from the animals’ garden and gather those vegetables.  This may involve a hands-on trip to the grocery store. Make a salad from the items gathered, or set up sample tasting of each item.

  • Inference 

If You Plant a Seed can be used in an inference lesson. You can click here to use this lesson from Reading Rockets.

Catholic Resources

Generosity:

Prayer for Generosity by St. Ignatius of Loyola

“Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve You as You deserve, to give and not to count the cost.”

  • The perfect example of generosity is God the Creator. God’s gift of Himself through Christ represents “the ultimate form of generosity, and serves as a model for all human generosity.”
  • The fruit of the spirit of generosity is illustrated in the life of the Blessed Mother.
  • It is greed that impoverishes us, not generosity. True generosity, indeed, enriches us a hundredfold.- John 12:24-25
  •  “…Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” – Matthew 10:8
  • gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

Saints:

  1. Saint Fiacre is the patron of growers of vegetables and medicinal plants, and gardeners in general. [Feast day September 1]
  2. St. Teresa of Calcutta’s life illustrates the fruit of the spirit of generosity. [Feast day September 5]

CCC 2404 “In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself.”The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.”

CCC 1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.”

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