Heber wrapped his thin coat around him and shivered in the cold. It would soon be his birthday, and all he wanted was a warm coat. But they were too poor to buy a coat. Sometimes they went to bed early because there was no fuel to keep the house warm, and sometimes he was hungry because there was not enough food. To earn money, Heber’s mother often worked far into the night, sewing clothes for others.
On Heber’s birthday his mother gave him a beautiful coat made from leftover material. Heber could hardly wait to go outside and feel its warmth.
A few weeks later, Heber saw a boy just his size crying. He was wearing only a sweater, and Heber knew how cold he must be. The boy looked longingly at Heber’s coat. Heber stopped and, almost without thinking, took the coat off and gave it to the boy.
That afternoon Heber’s mother saw him wearing his old coat. She asked, “What have you done with your new coat?” Heber wondered how to tell her. Then he said, “I saw a boy who needed it worse than I did, so I gave it to him.”
“Couldn’t you have given him your old one?” she asked.
Heber looked up at his mother, hoping she would understand, and saw her eyes fill up with tears. He threw his arms around her as she answered her own question. “Of course you couldn’t, Heber,” she said. “Of course, you couldn’t.” –Adapted from “The Coat,” retold by Lucile C. Reading, Children’s Friend, Nov. 1966, p. 5.