The Best Books About Gratitude | The Children’s Book Review
Fall is a season of abundance and harvest, punctuated by the Thanksgiving holiday when families and friends gather to celebrate traditions and share a meal that commemorates the famous harvest festival of 1621. As we teach and describe Thanksgiving to young readers, most often, the adjectives thankful and grateful are used as beacons of importance. However, the lessons of thankfulness and gratitude extend beyond Thanksgiving, and in addition to the many wonderful Thanksgiving-themed books, there are a variety of other stories available that teach the essence of these lessons.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons these books can impart for children and adults alike is that there is value in being thankful and grateful as a response to things received, and there is also value in being thankful and grateful in our hearts as a state of being. This concept is abstract and though it may take longer for young readers to grasp, the benefits of experiencing gratitude as something more than a reaction has the power to awaken minds. As we begin a season of reflection and celebration, we are pleased to share some of our favorite books on being thankful and grateful that will help young readers on their journey to understanding gratitude.
Kids’ Books on How to Give Thanks
Thanks a Million
By Nikki Grimes, Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Publisher’s Synopsis: What makes you thankful? A book? Weekends? Your family?
How do you say thanks? With a flower? With a chocolate bar? With a surprise?
In sixteen extraordinary poems that range in form from a haiku to a rebus to a riddle, Nikki Grimes reminds us how wonderful it is to feel thankful and how powerful a simple “thank you” can be.
Ages 4-8 | Greenwillow Books | 978-0688172930
Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks (Julie Andrews Collection)
By John Bucchino, Illustrated by Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen
Publisher’s Synopsis: Once in a while, a perfect union of words and music creates a transcendent song that soars from the heart and speaks to every soul … Grateful is such an anthem — a loving reminder of the gifts available to us when we approach life with gratitude. It is a song that inspires courage, compassion, and hope.
In this exquisite picture book and accompanying CD recorded by Art Garfunkel, Anna-Lisa Hakkarainen’s radiant paintings bring John Bucchino’s words to life. A joyous celebration of the beauty of the seasons, the wonders of nature, and the blessings of faith, here is a gift to be treasured by children and adults of all ages.
Ages 4-8 | HarperCollins | 978-0060516338
The Secret of Saying Thanks
By Douglas Wood, Illustrated by Greg Shed
Publisher’s Synopsis: Perhaps you’d like to know a secret, one of the happiest ones of all. You will surely find it for yourself one day. You’ll discover it all on your own, maybe when you least expect it. If you’ve not yet discovered the secret of saying thanks, it’s waiting for you. The secret can be found in the sunrise that offers promises full for the day ahead, in the gentle shade of a tree sheltering you from the hot rays of the sun, or on the rock that offers rest from a long walk.
In the inspirational text that made him a bestselling, internationally acclaimed author, Douglas Wood offers a spiritual homage to nature and the world. Greg Shed’s stunning portraits of the natural world tenderly portray all of the many ways in which we can say thanks for the wonders we sometimes take for granted in life.
Ages 4-8 | Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | 978-0689854101
By Olivia Rosewood
Publisher’s Synopsis: Violet the Purple Fairy learns how to make Gratitude Soup by thinking of all the things, people, places, and experiences that she is grateful for, putting them in an imaginary soup pot. She is able to shrink her pot of soup with her imagination, and she keeps the gratitude warm and flowing in her heart all day and all night. Perfect for teaching your children about gratitude with fun and play, this rhyming, colorful 8×10 picture book combines collage and watercolors as Violet the Purple Fairy tells her own story of cooking with gratitude
Ages 4-8 | CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | 978-1448681280
Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Illustrated by Jane Dyer
Publisher’s Synopsis: Everyone knows cookies taste good, but these cookies also have something good to say. Open this delectable book to any page and you will find out something about life. Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons is a new kind of dictionary, one that defines mysteries such as “fair” and “unfair” and what it really means to “cooperate.” The book is, by turn, clever, honest, inspirational, and whimsical. Go ahead, take a bite!
Ages 4-8 | HarperCollins | 978-0060580810
Lion and the Mouse
Publisher’s Synopsis: In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney’s wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he’d planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher’s trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.
Ages 4-8 | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 978-0316013567
The Blue Daisy: A Lesson in Gratitude
By Stacie Theis
Publisher’s Synopsis: The bright sun warms a field of daisies, but all the blue daisy does is complain. Can she learn to be grateful before she loses all her petals? Find out in this whimsical tale that teaches children to appreciate what they have.
Ages 4-8 | CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | 978-1490957906
The Giving Tree
Publisher’s Synopsis: “Once there was a tree . . . and she loved a little boy.” So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.
Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk . . . and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older, he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave.
Since it was first published fifty years ago, Shel Silverstein’s moving parable for readers of all ages has offered an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.
Ages 4-8 | HarperCollins | 978-0060586751
Good People Everywhere
By Lynea Gillen, Illustrated by Kristina Swarner
Publisher’s Synopsis: A colorful picture book that will warm the hearts of children and adults alike, each of its pages contains endearing examples and vibrant illustrations to inspire children to grow into grateful, caring, and giving people. It provides a wonderful way to calm children before sleep, eases their fears, and help them develop an appreciation for good work. Also included are activity pages to help children practice skills for creating gratitude, compassion, and beauty in daily life.
Ages 3-8 | Three Pebble Press | 978-0979928987
The Thankful Book
By Todd Parr
Publisher’s Synopsis: Todd Parr’s bestselling books have taught kids about unconditional love, respecting the earth, facing fears, and more, all with his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity. Now, The Thankful Book celebrates all the little things children can give thanks for. From everyday activities like reading and bath time to big family meals together and special alone time between parent and child, Todd inspires readers to remember all of life’s special moments. The perfect book to treasure and share around the holidays and throughout the year.
Ages 4-8 | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 978-0316181013
Bear Says Thanks
By Karma Wilson, Illustrated by Jane Chapman
Publisher’s Synopsis: What better way for Bear to say thanks than to have a big dinner with all his friends!
Bear has come up with the perfect way to say thanks—a nice big dinner! When Bear decides to throw a feast, his friends show up one by one with different platters of delicious food to share. There’s just one problem: Bear’s cupboards are bare! What is he to do?
Karma Wilson’s playful text and Jane Chapman’s charming illustrations bring to life this celebration of family and friendship. Young readers will delight in discovering the special gift Bear has to share.
Ages 3-8 | Margaret K. McElderry Books | 978-1416958567
An Awesome Book of Thanks!
Publisher’s Synopsis: The target audience for this book is people who are looking to read something special and be inspired to be better humans. While geared toward young children (0-10) and the parents of young children, it is also a book for the masses and spans age groups, gender, geographical, racial, and religious boundaries. I would say 0-1000. The book conveys, in pictures and simple yet beautiful language, all the ways one can be thankful and all the different things in life to be thankful for. A perfect holiday gift.
Ages 4 and up | Two Lions | 978-1935597377
This list of “12 Kids’ Books on Showing Thankfulness & Being Grateful” was curated by Gi Hallmark. Follow along with our Picture Books and Social Graces categories, as well as our articles tagged with Thanksgiving Books, to discover more great titles, just like the books in this list.
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These are lovely choices!
Another favorite for us is Carol Gordon Ekster’s “Before I Sleep I Say Thank You.”