15 Children’s Books that Teach Gratitude
One of the many ways to teach gratitude to your children is by helping them notice everything around them they can be thankful for. My two-year-old squeals with delight and enthusiastically says, “Thank you!” when he is given something lately, and the most encouraging part is that he is noticing not only items, but also acts of caring and love! He says “thank you” for hugs, kisses, when I help him carry books, and more.
My kids absolutely love books. We spend so much time every day reading. The Speech Pathologist in me loves to notice and describe the illustrations in a book with the same intention that I read the words. I love how the rich illustrations in our picture books can help teach my kids so much more than the written words do on their own.
Why might it be important to “read” illustrations in addition to the words?
Illustrations give us the opportunity to teach our kids just about every aspect of language you can think of. We can:
- point out emotions in the characters, and the facial expressions/postures that tell us how someone is feeling.
- talk about characters’ perspectives to help children learn that others have their own thoughts and feelings which may be different from our own.
- teach vocabulary, colors, and shapes.
- talk about humor.
The beautiful pictures can also give us a way to talk about gratitude, kindness, and our diverse world. Including books in your library that are full of characters from different religions, cultures, or ethnic backgrounds can help show we value multiple perspectives and teach our kids about the beauty of all kinds of people.
I previously wrote a post listing 27 books to teach kindness, and now I’d like to add more quality books to that library. The following is a list of 15 books that inspire grateful hearts, which to me feels especially important in the midst of the current bombardment of presents and treats.
15 children’s books that teach gratitude
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1. An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dan Clayton
- What it’s about: Shows us the beauty of the world and all there is to be thankful for.
2. Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
- What it’s about: Demonstrates the idea that you don’t have to have material things to be grateful. We can value friendship and kindness.
3. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You are? by Dr. Suess
- What it’s about: In true Dr. Suess form, he uses humor to show kids that things could always be worse!
4. Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks by John Buccino
- What it’s about: A book with an accompanying CD that teaches us to appreciate nonmaterial things around us, no matter what happens.
5. Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood
- What it’s about: The secret to happiness is gratitude.
6. Splat Says Thank You! by Rob Scotton
- What it’s about: All of the (sometimes hilarious) reasons he is thankful for his friendship.
7. The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
- What it’s about: Highlights all of the things in everyday life children can be grateful for.
8. There’s a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me by Alice Walker
- What it’s about: Short poetic verses that emphasize the connections between ourselves and nature.
9. Giving Thanks: a Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp
- What it’s about: Giving thanks each day to the earth and everything around you.
10. The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving by Ellen Sabin
- What it’s about: An activity book, journal, and keepsake for children learning to be charitable.
11. Rubber Shoes: A Lesson in Gratitude / Los zapatos de goma: una lección de gratitud by Gladys Barbieri
- What it’s about: Bilingual. When Gladys is upset about the shoes her mom bought her, a lesson in gratitude changes her thoughts.
12. I’m Thankful by Terri-Sue Hill
- What it’s about: Teaches us not to take for granted the people, places, and things we should be grateful for.
13. Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes
- What it’s about: Not specifically about gratitude, but this story introduces the concept of the refugee crisis and has a message of love, loss, empathy, compassion, grace and kindness. It is a touching true story about a cat being reunited with his family.
14. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
- What it’s about: Giving and loving in return.
15. The Big Life Journal
- What it’s about: A growth mindset journal full of stories, writing prompts, activities, quotes, illustrations, and poems, all about teaching our kids to use the power of their minds. The book is broken down into “26 weeks with each week covering a new theme or topic including: Make a Difference in the World, Dream Big, Follow Your Heart, You Are Not What You Have, Believe in Yourself, Take Action, Be Persistent, Effort is Key, Love Learning, Be Mindful, Be Grateful, Failure is Learning, Be Positive.”
Read to those little helpers, focus as little as possible on the toys and gifts, and see how much you can give.