Global ChallengesPoverty & Inequality

Talking with Young Kids About Hunger


Denny and the Sparrows - A Short Story

Winter was almost over, and no one was happier than Denny the Cardinal. He was happy because the days would soon be getting warmer; you see, this winter had been colder and drier than usual. It had been harder to find good seeds and tasty bugs for meals. There were days when finding his meal was a challenge, and Denny knew he was lucky that ultimately, he'd always found something good.

You can imagine Denny's joy when, one day towards the end of this cold, dry winter, he came across a wreath covered in birdseed, a handmade bird feeder hanging from an old gardening shelf. Its natural coloring made it hard to spot, and Denny wouldn't have even noticed it if he hadn't been on one of his daily stops at the birdbath in that same yard.

"A secret bird feeder just for me!" he'd chirped, careful not to chirp too loudly. After all, he knew that this feeder was a very special find, and he wanted to keep its seeds all to himself! He thought for sure that the seeds would soon be discovered, but later that day the other birds flew straight to the birdbath without stopping at the wreath in the forgotten corner of the yard.

One morning a few days later, Denny heard the sparrows chirping at the birdbath.

"Mr. Jenkins forgot to refill his bird feeder today," one of them said. "And that's where I always get my breakfast."

"It's supposed to snow this week it will be harder to find seeds on the ground," said another.

Denny knew how they felt. Before the last big snow, he'd worried about finding enough to eat. He knew that without food, he'd feel weak. He wouldn't be able to do fun things like chirp out his favorite song or fly to the top of the tallest tree to see the nice view. He would also be more likely to get sick, since having nourishment helped his body to stay well. He also knew the same would be true for the other birds if they couldn't find food either.

But Denny felt reassured knowing that now he had his new secret treasure of birdseed! It was so nice to know he'd have plenty to eat when the temperatures dropped below freezing. Denny even felt proud to have made a discovery that was his and his alone! But at the same time, he didn't feel proud. He found himself wondering what he could do to help.

While feeding from the wreath later that afternoon, Denny noticed that he'd only eaten a small section of the seeds. Not only was there more than enough food for the sparrows, there were even seeds on the wreath that he'd avoided because he didn't like the taste. Why should those seeds go to waste when the sparrows could enjoy them?

The next day at the birdbath, Denny spoke to the two sparrows he'd seen the day before.

"Can you see that shelf in the corner of the yard?" he asked.

"There's not much in that corner," the larger sparrow answered.

"Well, I happen to know there's something over there that could be helpful in getting all of us through the rest of the winter," Denny said.

The other sparrow flew to check it out, and when she returned, she chirped for a few friends in the nearby trees to follow. Soon the sparrows were all at the wreath, fluttering their wings in excitement.

It made Denny happy to see the other birds so full of joy! They dined at the wreath, but before they'd finished, one sparrow flew back to the birdbath where Denny proudly perched.

"Thank you," the sparrow chirped. "We promise to leave plenty of food for you to enjoy too. And when we finish our afternoon snack, we want to show you a birdbath on the next block that might come in handy if this one is ever empty!"

Denny smiled happily one act of kindness had created another!

Teaching Course

In "Denny and the Sparrows," Denny the Cardinal learns the importance of helping others. By sharing his food with the sparrows, he plays a part in preventing them from going hungry, even during the coldest and driest of winters!

All living things deserve to have the vitamins, minerals and nutrients their bodies need. When we do not get enough of these substances found in healthy food, our bodies can grow weak, tired and even sick. Hunger""the feeling we get when our bodies are ready for more food""lets us know that it's time to eat so we can have the energy we need to work, play and enjoy our lives!

There are times when people aren't able to receive the food they need. The good news is that there are many ways you can help end hunger in the world!

Discussion Questions:

When Denny first shared the birdbath with the sparrows, he heard them talking about a concern they had as the next snow approached. Why were the sparrows worried?

How did Denny decide to help the sparrows get the food they needed? Why was it important for him to help them?

When the sparrows learned of the birdseed-covered wreath and began to enjoy its delicious seeds, how did Denny feel?

How did the sparrows show their thankfulness to Denny?

There are many individuals in this world who do not have the food they need. Can you think of some ways to help end their hunger?

Discussion Points:

The sparrows knew they would have trouble finding food as the winter wore on. There are many reasons that living things don't get the food they need, from natural disasters to a lack of the supplies or money necessary for growing or buying healthy food. Being aware of these reasons gives us clues about how we can help provide food for the hungry.

So what are some ways you can help? There are many ways to help end hunger, such as:
  • Collecting and donating food or money to organizations that help feed the hungry
  • Volunteering your time and talent at a soup kitchen, food drive or non-profit organization committed to ending hunger
  • Writing a letter to a local food business encouraging the donation of leftover food, or to a national leader to show your support of choices that help serve the hungry

Like the sparrows in the story, we all need help from time to time. When we find we are in a place to share our gifts, it's a wonderful feeling to know we are helping others live the healthy, happy lives they deserve.

(by Mya Kagan)