Beyond the tasty turkey and pleasant pumpkin pie is a season full of gratitude and thankfulness. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can have positive effects—from an increased sense of well-being, to a desire to be helpful, to greater energy. While your children eagerly await the joys of the upcoming holiday season, now is the perfect time to remind them why they should be thankful for what they have and appreciative of who they are. In our house, every evening we pose each other these two questions: What are you thankful for today? What are you looking forward to tomorrow? Most often time with family, outings with parents, or amazing natural wonders (shooting stars!) are the answers to these simple questions. From blessings big to small, you can also help instill an attitude of gratitude with these book picks. ‘Tis the reason for the season!
Bear Says Thanks, by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
Bear wants to thank all his animal friends with a big dinner, but when the time comes, he finds his cupboards bare. As his friends show up with different platters of food to share, Bear worries that he has nothing to contribute. Nevertheless, his friends assure him his presence is a present and they are grateful to spend a meal with him. A great reminder that we all have something to offer and we should be thankful for the actions of others, not just gifts.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig
Sylvester the donkey finds a magic pebble and makes a wish with unintended consequences. Serendipitously, Sylvester reunites with his family after a long period of loneliness and isolation, resulting in a wave of gratitude for those who love him, and the joy of being surrounded by his loved ones. A reminder for everyone to be thankful for their family, with a dose of talking animals and magic.
Splat Says Thank You, by Rob Scotton
Splat fans will love this story about Splat and his mouse friend, Seymour. Seymour is sad and Splat wants to cheer him up. But a thank you card is simply not enough, Splat wants to make an entire thank you book! Celebrating friendship and all the ways Splat is thankful for his little mouse friend, this book within a book celebrates friendships of all shapes and sizes.
Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings, by Stan and Jan Berenstain
When the cubs cannot stop complaining about the toys and games their friends have and they do not have, it takes a thunderstorm and a little family time together for the cubs to realize the importance of a loving home and a caring family. Besides, when the power is out, computer games are useless for little cubs! While it may not take a power outage to convince your own little cub of the value of a loving home, we will not hold it against you if you power down the electronics in your house during this story time.
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message, by Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup
Showing gratitude for the wonders of our natural world, this Native American book incorporates the traditional Mohawk “Thanksgiving Address to Mother Earth.” The Iroquois ceremonial tradition is a great way to incorporate the act of giving thanks not just once a year, but every day. The end of the book includes the entire text in Mohawk. Featuring intricate illustrations, this book is a great way for the whole family to learn more about Native Americans and our natural environments.
Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
Fads may come and go, but Jeremy’s grandma is resolute in helping him understand the value of understanding “needs” vs. “wants”. Jeremy’s determination finds him a pair of the latest cool shoes from the thrift store which are, unfortunately, a size too small. When Jeremy decides sore feet are not fun after all, he puts on his boots and gives his friend Antonio the shoes. What Jeremy finds is that what he can do is worth more than the things he wants for himself. What matters most is gratitude for what he has, and graciously giving to others.
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?, by Dr. Seuss
As optimistic and as colorful a story as we would expect from the veritable Dr. Seuss, this book shows that it is OK to be sad and a little down in the dumps from time to time. With classic and clever rhymes, the story unfolds to show the reader that we are lucky to be who we are, and very fortunate to have all that we have. We are all unique and we are all lucky in our own, special way.
Awesome Books of Thanks, by Dallas Clayton
From the simple to the whimsical, the imaginative to the mundane, this book examines all that kids can be thankful for when they look at the world around them. Whether it’s the beauty that surrounds them, the emotions they experience, or the bad things in life that make you stronger and help you appreciate what you do have, this quirky and colorful book is full of fun ways to show your child gratitude in many forms.
Gratitude Soup, by Olivia Rosewood
Fans of Stone Soup will enjoy this soup-y tale of Violet, as she makes imaginary soup from all the things, places, people, and experiences she loves and is grateful for having in her life. She stirs it all up, shrinks it all down, and keeps the gratitude soup flowing warm in her body and heart all day and night. Your kids will be inspired to make their own soup full of gratitude—with no food required and endless possibilities for ingredients!
Andy and the Lion, by James Daugherty
What happens when you help someone in need? They might just show you gratitude for life. In this story, Andy comes across a lion who needs a thorn removed from its paw. Andy tends to the lion and then continues on his way, only to cross paths with the lion at the town circus. The lion lunges toward Andy in great appreciation and with a power of gratitude for the young boy. Gratitude is given, as well as received, in this classic tale.
The Thankful Book, by Todd Parr
Little ones will love reading this book exploring all the reasons they are thankful today. Bold and simple illustrations and modest text carries younger children through daily pleasures and celebrations, both big and small. From the hair on their head to the toes on their feet, everyday gratitude comes to life in playful ways. Gratitude is even conveyed for underwear in this story—which sure to get a laugh from your kid!
Have you asked your kids what they are thankful for today?