Stories to Read to Your Child That Help Teach Teamwork

girl reading a book

You've undoubtedly heard the phrase "teamwork makes the dream work" and have probably even said it, but clichés don't teach. 

When it comes to helping your child understand and work toward establishing teamwork in their school, play and sport environments, you're going to need a lot more than a simple saying. The more opportunities they have to work through disagreements and problem solve with others to reach new goals, the better. 

Kids naturally face obstacles on the field, in the classroom and in their friendships that require teamwork. The challenges come with making these positive growing experiences, encouraging them rather than discouraging them, and in those cases, it helps to have some good models to refer to. Who better than a character from a favorite story?

We pulled together a list stories old and new with characters who can help do just that. From those who persevere through tough times to leaders who help other characters work together to achieve something big as a team, you're sure to find a favorite in one of these selections. These tales will leave your child thinking about the importance of teamwork and how we can all do our best to support each other and achieve our dreams. 

The Almost Impossible Thing by Basak Agaoglu

Beautifully illustrated, The Almost Impossible Thing is a captivating story about a rabbit who has a dream to fly. Even though many tell the little rabbit that it's impossible (rabbits don't have wings!), his efforts amount to a beautiful display of teamwork that proves the impossible, possible. Playful and clever, this story is a lighthearted way to discuss teamwork and perseverance with your kids.

Up the Creek by Nicholas Oldland

Up the Creek takes readers on an adventure with a bear, a moose and a beaver who are the best of friends but don't always agree. Working through their disputes, these three characters demonstrate both the consequences of not using teamwork and the benefits of working together to go places, explore and ultimately make it back home safely in one piece! Your kids will love this adventure, and you'll find it easily supports conversation about being a team. 

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

The small, brave fish in Swimmy helps a school of little fish overcome their fears and explore the great wonders of the ocean with a little bit of leadership and a great idea. It's a Caldecott Award Winning story that's become a favorite for many generations of readers. Without teamwork, these little fish would miss so many of the great wonders of the sea—thank goodness for Swimmy for helping them work together!  

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

This selection is full of animated and amusing illustrations and plenty of safety tips to keep in mind, including "never stand on a swivel chair!" 

Officer Buckle and Gloria is a timeless picture book about a duo who are better together than apart. Officer Buckle can't get the audience to listen on his own, and without Officer Buckle, Gloria and her audience fall asleep! The final message of the story is clearly stated, but the detailed illustrations and humorous, heartwarming characters will make this a story your kids will want to revisit time and time again. 

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Two friends venture from the dirt surface to the depths of the earth and back again as they look for something spectacular in Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. While the illustrations might suggest that their every decision keeps them from finding or reaching that spectacular thing (some entertaining dramatic irony), Sam and Dave feel successful in the end. It's a beautifully simple tale that includes great depth of conversation, offering the message that working through a journey with a friend is spectacular in and of itself. 

How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow by Monica Sweeney, Illustrated by Feronia Parker Thomas

Things are not looking bright (or colorful) in the world when the sun and the clouds get into an argument and decide never to be in the sky together again. Without that dynamic duo, color disappears along with rainbows all over the earth—everything's black and white. Thankfully, a box of crayons locked in a small desk maintained their color! These seven crayons work together to save the day and bring color back to the world by catching the sun's and cloud's attention with a big, beautiful rainbow of their own. 

How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow isn't just about the importance of working as a team to make a difference, but also about working through disagreements with good friends. 

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, Illustrated by Jill McElmurry

When the big dump truck gets stuck in the mud, Little Blue Truck is the only one to come around to possibly help at first—and gets stuck himself! Luckily, Little Blue Truck had been a kind friend to all the animals he passed by in the day, so they all came running when they heard him in need. Working as a team, all the animals in Little Blue Truck are able to push on Little Blue, who then pushes on the Dump Truck, and they all make it out together!

Max and Marla by Alexandra Boiger

Max and Marla is a tale about an endearing team of "true" Olympians! The two best friends demonstrate all the important elements of being a successful athlete: preparation, taking care of their equipment, taking time to rest and never giving up. They work together even when things don't go exactly as planned, and they make the most of their situation right up to the playful end. It's an inspiring story for any athlete working hard to meet a new goal, and a beautiful model of friendship and teamwork. 

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