Teaching your kids when it’s important to ask for help is an invaluable lesson, but can be tricky to implement in tiny trailblazers who insist on doing everything themselves.

It’s fantastic when children act independently and want to try new things on their own, but they can also hurt themselves or become easily frustrated in the process. Giraffe Asks For Help (Magination Press), written by Nyasha Chikowore and illustrated by Janet McDonnell, tells the story of the lovably determined giraffe, Gary, who desperately wants to reach the tasty acacia leaves on his own when he should be tall enough (on his sixth birthday). Alas, Gary is clumsy and bit shorter than the other giraffes his age, so he cannot grasp the juicy leaves.

Mirroring the frustration your young ones are sure to discover when they find that they can’t accomplish what they set out to do on their own, Gary becomes upset when he stumbles and falls trying to reach his goal. He grows even more dismayed when his own problem-solving techniques (standing on objects) do not yield results until his best friend Tye gives Gary some important advice.

Tye says that everyone needs to ask for help sometimes, and Gary should too. Once Gary realizes that his friends Chris the cheetah, Eli the elephant, Larry the lion and Tye the tickbird all ask for help on certain tasks that they have difficulty completing on their own, he feels comfortable enough to ask them for a hand (or rather paw, leg and wing). Together they are able to lower the branch and lift Gary so that he can finally eat some of those coveted leaves.

From problems with schoolwork to bullying, the ability for a child to ask for help from the right people is an essential skill that translates to many issues. After reading this book, unpacking what asking for help would look like in a variety of settings (home, school, camp, etc.) can help little ones be more prepared on who to go to if they ever do run into problems and reduce future stress.

Like Gary’s friends offered times when they have asked for help from others in the past, sharing your own related experiences could prove instrumental in convincing a growing child that individuals of all different ages need help on occasion.

Discussions on asking for help can also act as a great segue to the importance of giving help to those in need. Empathy and a willingness to reach out to people who are struggling are also important strengths of character to emphasize. How can you expect to receive help if you are not willing to give in return? This book is highly accessible, entertaining and teachable (complete with a guide at the end for parents/caregivers to unpack the lessons of the story). Giraffe Asks For Help would make a wonderful addition to any child’s or parent’s bookshelf.

Giraffe Asks For Help will be available to purchase March 1st.

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Nyasha Chikowore is a former licensed clinical professional counselor who provided classroom and school-wide prevention activities related to mental health, with an emphasis on de-stigmatizing asking for any type of help. She is currently working on her doctorate in clinical psychology.


Janet McDonnell is an illustrator and author living in the calm outskirts of the windy city with her husband, two sons, and their black and white dog, Buster. Her whimsical illustrations combine traditional media and digital magic. In addition to illustrating books, magazines, and puzzles, Janet has both taught and written for children from preschool to high school ages. She also enjoys being an Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her clients include Magination Press, Highlights, Zondervan and Pearson.