Give A Goat by Jan West Schrock with illustrations by Aileen Darragh - Book Review

Give a Goat by Jan West Schrock relates the tale of a class of real fifth grade students who, after hearing a book on how one goat can change the lives of children in Africa, decide to hold a fundraiser to buy a goat for the organization Heifer International. I was a bit reluctant to review Give a Goat as I tend to be leery of books that preach or sell to children. However, I was more than pleasantly drawn into the story and found no preachiness anywhere! I can guarantee you that if I were still in the classroom, we’d be collecting pennies to buy our own goat and I can easily see Give a Goat exploding to the same degree of popularity as the Flat Stanley phenomenon in schools.

As an added bonus, the book is a mathematical lesson in economics and business with lessons on buying, selling, profit margins, loans, budgeting, quality control, inventory, investment and record keeping ready to incorporate into your own project. The bright watercolor illustrations of Aileen Darragh add sensory delight as various animals, including the silly goat, insert humor into the scene.

Recommended for both elementary classroom and library purchase.

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Genre: Picture Book, Realistic Fiction. Age: 4-8. Pages: 32.

Themes: Earth Sharing, Cooperation, Humor.
Thanks to Tilbury House.
Publisher: Tilbury House. Date: May 2008.
ISBN-10: 0884483010 / ISBN-13: 978-0884483014

Buy Give a Goat Here

Themes To Explore: Community Empowerment, Business Planning, Hunger & Poverty, and Charity & Giving

Vocabulary To Investigate: Uganda, stern, genius, profit, quality control, inventory, investment, profit margin, ledger, broadened, flock

Comprehension Questions To Ponder:

1. What grade do the students in this story attend? (Fifth)

2. Why were they students in Mrs. Rowell’s class restless? (Because of the rain)

3. How did Beatrice’s goat change her life? (The goat gave milk – her family sold the extra for money- that money helped them get healthier so they could earn money to send Beatrice to school)

4. Why do you think the students in the class wanted to give a goat after Mrs. Rowell finished the story? (All answers accepted but try to get ‘they wanted to help other children’ type answers)

5. How does the librarian help the students? (She directs them to the Heifer International website)

6. Why does Ralph figure out how to find the site on his own? (He’s almost a genius at computers)

7. What is “passing on the gift?’ (When a family/person who got a goat –or other animal- gives one of the animals babies to another family)

8. Where did the students decide they all wanted to raise money to buy a goat? (At recess/on the playground)

9. Where do the students get the money to buy the products they sell? (Mrs. Rowell gives them a loan)

10. How do the students make a profit? (They have to charge more for the items than they paid)

11. Why do you think everyone wants to buy from the students and some even give them extra dollars? (All answers, but try for they felt like the idea was good one, they thought the students were doing a good thin type answers)

12. How did the students manage to buy not only a goat, but also a flock of chickens and some ducks? (They earned more than they needed to just buy the goat)

13. How did the animals get to their families? (They were shipped in crates from the same countries where the families need them)

14. How do you think the children felt once they gave a goat? (happy, excited, etc… all answers) Why? (Because giving feels good, it’s good to help other people, etc…

For activities on Give a Goat, visit the Tilbury House activities page: HERE.

It’s also interesting to note that author Jan West Schrock is a veteran educator and daughter of the founder of Heifer International. For more on what appears to be a fine organization, visit their site: HERE.

© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for

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