Our Table Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
PreK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Common Good
Volunteer Service
by Peter Reynolds - 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 explore the themes of generosity, empathy, and relationship building.

In this book, Peter Reynolds writes a fable about what happens to one family’s table when life’s distractions get in the way of their time together. Violet remembers when her family gathered at the table to share stories and make memories. When the table disappears, Violet decides to act and works to rebuild the togetherness and their table. This inspirational tale speaks to the importance of actively nurturing the relationships in our lives. It illustrates the power each one of us has to take action to meet people where they are and bring them into community. 

Literature Guide by Maureen Klein

Before Reading

Ask: The title of the book is Our Table. What tables do you sit at with people in your life: at your home, school, club, or faith-based group? What do you do at those tables?

Show: Look closely at the cover illustration. What details do you notice? Describe what you think the family does together at meal times.

Connect: Think of a gathering where you feel connected to others (family, group, classroom). What do you do with your family, team, or class that builds community and makes you feel close to each other?

During Reading

Show: Look at the illustration on the page that shows Violet sitting alone at the table. Compare this illustration to the pictures on the page before. How are those illustrations different? Describe how Violet might feel now that she is sitting at the table alone.

Ask: The table was a place where Violet’s family connected with each other. When they stopped gathering at the table, what were they doing instead? What are they missing out on?

Connect: Violet’s family became busy doing other things. People in our lives can become busy and distracted. What does it feel like when someone you care about is distracted or not connecting with you?

After Reading

Ask: In what specific ways did Violet reach out to each of her family members? Why do you think she chose those activities for each person? 

Show: Look at the page where the family is building the table together. What is the table bringing back into their lives? 

Connect: To bring her family back together, Violet was motivated by a desire to change and used her time, talent, and courage. What are some actions and attitudes you can take on to bring people together?


  1. The table in the book was “a place to come together to share stories and make memories.” Draw a picture of a table in your life. Include the people you care about at the table. Write a story describing a memory you have of a gathering at your table.
  2. Generous listening is an act of philanthropy. Use this Simple Safe Service project to spark generous action and conversations promoting the good of all. 
  3. Technology can help us solve problems, gather information, and even connect us with friends and family when we can’t be together. It can also be a distraction to our relationships. Plan a family screen-free challenge for a day, a week or longer. Go to the Screen Free website to take the pledge and find resources to support your challenge. 
  4. The back cover of the book says, “Rediscover the gift of shared time together.” Just like Violet, we each have a role to play in intentionally building relationships in our families, our schools and our communities. Use these Learning to Give "Build Community" activities to guide your understanding of ourselves and our communities, what we care about, and our role and purpose in the larger community.