With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we are eager to share with you some of our favorite children’s books to inspire gratitude. The act of showing and experiencing gratitude is an extremely important practice in daily life. Studies that have been conducted since 2000, including one from UC Davis, have shown so many benefits to daily practice of gratitude — such as more positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness – that it goes without saying it is a good practice to share with our children. Gratitude can lead to an enhanced feeling of well-being, and children who practice gratitude show more positive attitudes toward their school, their peers, and their families. They show less judgement of others, less jealousy, and are more likely to offer to share and help others. What a powerful mindset gratitude instills!
Reading to your child is a wonderful way to introduce daily gratitude, and there are plenty of books to help you get started. Below, our picks.
Thanksgiving with Me, by Margaret Willey, illustrated by Lloyd Bloom
A heartwarming, joyous story about the anticipation a little girl feels as she anxiously awaits the arrival of her six uncles. To pass the time, the little girl asks her mother to tell her a story about each uncle. This story is about getting past the “what to wear” and “what to make” surface issues of Thanksgiving and back to the cherished family stories, which is what brings the most joy.
The Thanksgiving Door, by Debby Attwell
This is a cross-generational celebration that honors inclusion and tolerance of those different from ourselves. When an older couple burn their own Thanksgiving dinner, they head out to eat for the holiday and come across an open door. Inside, they meet an immigrant family celebrating their own version of Thanksgiving. A wonderful read for those who want to share open hearts and open minds with their children. Though this book is now out of print, many libraries still keep a copy or two.
Gratitude Soup, by Olivia Rosewood
This story has such a wonderful message! It teaches children that they can carry gratitude in their hearts at all times. Violet the Purple Fairy, the main character, makes gratitude soup by conjuring up all of the people, places, things, and experiences she is grateful for, then puts them into an imaginary pot of soup. The book incorporates pretend play and catchy rhymes for young children. The mixed collage and watercolor art in this book are a beautiful bonus.
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss
A tale of all of those who are less fortunate, but still full of plenty of the silliness characterized by Dr. Seuss, this book is another good one for practicing perspective-taking and empathy for others. This story takes the idea that if you’re having a bad day, remember that it could always be worse, and lifts it to a whole new level!
An Awesome Book of Thanks, by Dallas Clayton
This is an awe-inspiring book full of thank-you’s to things, places, people, and phenomena that you’ve never imagined or considered thanking before. It is the biggest thank you with some pretty great illustrations. Great for any age.
There is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me, by Stefano Vitale
A short and sweet, but powerful book, Vitale flips a child’s perspective by taking on that of the natural world and art. The result is an understanding that the universe and the people in it can influence each other in small but special ways. Walker wrote, in the afterward of this book, that the idea of this book came to her while she was out walking, when suddenly, “the wonder of myself as part of all this overcame me…” When she went home to write what would become this book, she described it at first as “not a book then, but a thank you note.”
The Thankful Book, by Todd Parr
This is the perfect book for the very young child to recognize the feeling of gratitude. From Todd Parr himself: “There are lots of things to be thankful for. Try to remember some of them every day!”