Hey, Little Ant Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Building Empathy
Celebrating Differences
Diverse Communities
by Phillip and Hannah Hoose - ​A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to compare and contrast different perspectives and discuss ways we are unique.

In “Hey, Little Ant,” a boy comes across an ant and is faced with the choice of squishing the ant or not. This rhyming book explores the very different perpectives of a boy and the ant he is about to squish. They debate the merits of each creature's life through humor and empathy. Use the book to talk about the meaning of empathy - to see things from another's perspective. We also explore the ability for the smallest person to have a voice and value. This book includes themes of empathy, decision making, and respect for all creatures.

Literature Guide by Maureen Klein

Before Reading

Ask: What do you know about ants? Where do you usually see ants, and what do you do when you see one?

Show:  Look at the cover illustration. What do you notice about the size perspectives of the boy and the ant?

Connect:  We all have different perspectives or ways of viewing things. In this story, the authors ask us to consider the perspective of both the boy and the ant. Pay careful attention to the similarities and differences between the two characters’ perspectives.

During Reading

Ask: Pause on pages 17 and 18, where the boy’s friends are encouraging him to squish the ant. What do you think he should do?

Show: Show the illustrations on page 19 and 20, now the perspective has changed. What do you think the ant should do?  How do you think the boy would feel?

Connect: Hey, Little Ant is a story about how we interact with the world around us. The boy is trying to decide if the ant’s life is valuable and worthy of respect. We can show respect to people and animals in a variety of ways. What are some ways you show respect to your family, friends, and pets? 

After Reading

Ask: The book ends with the question, “What do you think that kid should do?”  What do you think he should do?.  

Show: Show the illustration on the cover of the book again. How did the authors change perspectives between the boy and the ant throughout the book? Why do you think the authors did this?

Connect: This book challenges us to think about the concept of respecting the lives of ants. It is a metaphor (symbolic representation) for showing respect for differences in people. If the ant represents children, make some arguements for ways that adults can show respect for youth. If the ant is a metaphor for people who live differently, make an argument for listening before judging differences as less valuable than one's own point of view.


  1. Complete a Venn diagram comparing the boy and the ant using the handout below. (Here is an example of a Venn Diagram from SimplyKinder).
  2. Write a letter or film a video message to the boy telling him what you think he should do. Try using the software Padlet
  3. What does this book remind you of? Is there another time when someone's point of view isn't valued as much as another's? Draw a picture of that difference. Draw a second picture in which the inequity is fixed.
  4. Learn about ants and how they support their community. What can we learn about community support and working together from them?
  5. Consider purchasing an Ant Mountain or other ant home product so kids can see ants in action as they work and live. 

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