The Rainbow Fish Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
by Marcus Pfister  A literature 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 build children's understanding of generosity, community, and service to others.  Spanish Version Attached.

Every child has been faced with the issue of sharing something that is special to him or her. Sharing is difficult, and it is not always easy to see the positive effects of sharing. This book can be used to spark a meaningful discussion about the benefits of sharing. Children can see the point of view of the other fish who admire the Rainbow Fish’s sparkling scales. They can also watch the rainbow fish struggle with a difficult choice and then respond with generosity.

Before Reading

ASK: Did you ever have something that someone else wanted? How did that feel? How did you act toward that person? Were you proud? Were you uncomfortable? Did you share what you had? Why or why not?

SHOW: Look at the cover of the book and talk about what is pictured. Encourage predictions and creative observations.

CONNECT: We are going to read a story about a beautiful fish that had something the other fish wanted. Listen for ways Rainbow Fish reminds you of people in your own life.

During Reading

ASK: How does the Rainbow Rish feel about sharing? What do you think he should do? Why? How do the other fish feel about the Rainbow Fish?

SHOW: Look at the art style and colors. How does the illustrator's use of color impact the story?

CONNECT: Many sea creatures live in groups that need each other. Other sea creatures live alone. Do people live in groups or alone? Do we need each other? Does the Rainbow Fish need other fish?

After Reading

ASK: Did Rainbow Fish make the best choice? Why do you think that? How does giving benefit both the giver and the receiver?

SHOW: Look at the picture of sharing in the fish community. What do you notice?

CONNECT: Many times there is enough to go around. What are some things we can share without harming ourselves? Kindness, time, a place to be together are some examples. What individual actions can we (as individuals or as a family) make for the common good?


  1. Think of someone who was generous and shared with you. Write that person a letter thanking them for their generosity.
  2. Create a picture of Rainbow Fish. Think of how you can act like rainbow fish and complete the prompt "I can be like Rainbow Fish by ...".
  3. Try this Simple Safe Service project to Spark a Giving Conversation.

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