Enhancing Our Understanding of The Common Good Through Literature

3, 4, 5

Students will recognize acts of philanthropy in literature and each piece of literature will enhance, clarify, or deepen the student’s understanding of “Common Good.”

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to Two Thirty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • distinguish between examples of philanthropy in stories and philanthropy in every day life.
  • Resources (Attachment One). All learners should have their own copy of the literature to read.
  • Guided Practice Sheet (Attachment Two). All learners should have their own copy of the guided practice sheet.
Home Connection 

Have the learners ask their parent/guardian to make a list of three groups or organizations that are examples of philanthropy. Have the learners make a combined class list when they return to class.


See Resources (Attachment One).


  1. Anticipatory Set: Review the definition of philanthropy. Then ask students, “Who receives philanthropy?” Ask learners to give specific examples of persons or groups who receive philanthropy and describe characteristics of these persons or groups.

  2. Tell learners that anyone can be the recipient of philanthropy. Everyone is part of the common good or public good. Anyone who is part of the community benefits when things are done for the common good or benefit of all. It also means that everyone can give. All members of the public have a responsibility to contribute to the public good.

  3. Explain that community is a connection between individuals, and it may be two people or hundreds. It may be a place, like a town, or a group, like a sports team.Tell them that they are going to read a variety of literature to see many different types of community and how they work together for the common good.

  4. From the list of Resources (Attachment One), have learners select a book. See Attachment Two for a guided practice sheet for learners to complete as they read the book.

  5. Students read one book each and answer the questions. Then discuss their books and answers to reflect on the concepts and common themes.

  6. Give each student a large sheet of paper and ask them to design a book jacket for their story. To highlight the act of philanthropy in the story, tell students that this act of philanthropy should be shown on the cover in some way. Display the book jackets with a caption to explain the assignment so others in the school can learn from it.


The completed book jacket will determine whether or not the student understood the meaning of common good and philanthropy by including that act done on behalf of the common good somewhere on the book jacket. Use student responses to the guided practice to evaluate learner understanding of lead questions.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.