Extra Yarn Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
by Mac Barnett: A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. Choose from activities and discussion questions to enjoy this creative and inspiring book together while exploring the philanthropic themes of personal power to act and perseverance.

Annabelle brings color to her bleak community with a box of unlimited yarn. She has an unstoppable will to continue to brighten the days of the people around her. She faces obstacles but continues to knit and change the world. 

Core Philanthropy Theme: Kindness can transform, and we all can do good deeds for the sake of others, even in the face of negativity.

Before Reading

Show: Look at the cover details. Notice the colorful knitted letters. Brainstorm prior knowledge about yarn and knitting.  

Ask: From the first black and white page, what do we know about the world in the story? Some days may seem gray; what is a gray day like?

Connect: What are some things people make that brighten the day of another person? (cookies, meals, knitted blankets...) What is something you can make and give to brighten someone's day?

During Reading

Show: Look at how the teacher and class respond to her colorful sweater. What does "a distraction" mean? Whose job is it to manage distractions?

Ask: How does Annabelle respond when the teacher says it is impossible? What does her attitude remind you of? 

Connect: Annabelle's knitting is a goodness that spreads in the community. What is another example of goodness that spreads?

After Reading

Show: Look at how Annabelle doesn't let the Archduke in when he tries to buy the box. What do you think she is saying to herself to avoid temptation?

Ask: Why do you think the yarn box didn't work for the Archduke? Why do you think he wanted it?

Connect: What can you do to brighten a gray situation? What in your life makes you happy and does good in the world that nobody can take away? Write a list of ideas and keep it so you can look at it when you have a gray day. 


  1. A growth mindset is an attitude that continues to try in the face of obstacles. Read more about a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset. Make a list of ways to learn and grow instead of getting blocked with negative thoughts.
  2. Make a list of things you are good at that can help the community. Pick one idea and take one small action for the good of the community. Start a journal with ideas and add notes, questions, and drawings as you try different things. Share with others who may be interested in what you are doing. 
  3. Learn to knit, crochet, weave, or do other art with yarn. Sometimes hospitals accept knitted baby hats to give to new parents. Make a family or friend project of making blankets and other things to donate to places of worship, hospitals, community centers, and shelters.
  4. Plan a service for your community that uses your time, talent, words, or donations. Invite others to help you with ideas and actions, especially the people most impacted.