Inside: Children’s books about gratitude are important to read not just during the Thanksgiving season, but all year round. These are some of our favorite gratitude books for kids that teach appreciation and generosity.
Gratitude Books for Kids Can — and Should! — Be Read All Year Long
He handed it to me after school, his face glowing as if lit by a hundred lanterns. “Fankful,” he said. I looked at the orange construction paper, his turkey hand print, and his teacher’s handwriting, my heart instantly flooding the floor:
I am thankful for mommy, daddy, my brother and Daniel Tiger.
Yep. That about nailed the things my sweet boy loved and needed more than anything else in the world: his mommy for snuggles, his daddy for safety, his brother for laughter, and Daniel Tiger to teach him, well, pretty much everything.
I can’t bear to take his picture off the pantry door where I taped it so long ago. To me, this simple, sweet list is perfection. As my son grows, I know his “thankful” list will morph and change, but I want to continually remind him that the things we should be most grateful for are our relationships and the necessities, not the materialistic objects that clutter up our lives, blinding our eyes with the fastest and shiniest games and gadgets.
Use Children’s Books About Gratitude to Help Nurture Appreciation and Generosity!
I aim to model an attitude of gratitude for my children, in which we continually express our appreciation for the things we are lucky to have while simultaneously reminding them that others are not so fortunate— and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a way to help?
Children’s books about gratitude provide such rich examples of how we can help others, and we love reading them together to see how the characters, too, model attitudes of gratitude.
I know I’m not alone in seeking a way to encourage my boys to have grateful hearts all year round and not simply when Thanksgiving approaches. I’m confident that if I can instill a feeling of gratitude in my kids at these impressionable ages, the more likely they will be inspired to help those who may not be able to help themselves.
Of course, I want my children to become intelligent young men. But if they grow up to be compassionate, grateful and directed by a strong moral compass that encourages them to give back to their community, whenever possible, I will feel like I have succeeded as their mom.
RELATED: We’ve got all of the best children’s books for you on Happily Ever Elephants, so make sure to check ’em out!
Below are some of my favorite children’s books about gratitude to get both my students and my own kids talking about the things for which they are thankful.
But, perhaps more importantly, this list of children’s books about gratitude can serve as “window” books— books that remind us that the things we take for granted are missing from many homes around the country.
So many people face daily challenges while simply trying to provide for their families, and as thankful as we may be for what we have, we need these stories to open our children’s eyes to the struggles challenging the community around them and the myriad ways that they can give back.
It’s a good reminder for us grown-ups as well.
Our Favorite Children’s Books About Gratitude to Read from January to December!
We are absolutely loving this beautiful collaged book that celebrates all the wonderful things in the world for which we are thankful. The little girl follows through with her family tradition, making a paper chain to highlight all of the things she is grateful for in a year. As one idea leads to another, her chain grows longer and longer. From homes to poems, this tender story reminds children that wonder is all around us, and there is so much to be thankful for each and every day.
This is such an amazing book to help children learn to show appreciation for our community helpers! We love the way this simple story shows us to have gratitude for all of the people who make our neighborhoods special, from the mail carriers to the firemen and women to the sanitation workers. This one is a gem for young kids!
In this simple yet beautiful gratitude book for kids, a young girl says thank you for all of the gifts nature provides. From hedges to trees, flowers to bees, the child explores nature’s wonder and the way it comes together to provide ingredients for the delicious food we eat – like apple cake! Rhythmic prose and delightful illustrations make this a winner, especially for young children. And if you are working on an apple study with young readers, this sweet book even includes a recipe for delicious apple cake.
What a fabulous new book on gratitude, set in a vibrant Cherokee community. This “own voices” picture book travels through the seasons, giving readers a glimpse of the Native American community at rest and play. The word “ostaliheliga” is used by the members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude and is sprinkled throughout the pages. We simply LOVE this one!
Jeremy wants nothing more than the same pair of shoes that the rest of the kids at school wear. But, according to his grandma, Jeremy’s “wants” are not nearly as important as his “needs.” This is such a special story, one I read to my students every year around Thanksgiving because it masterfully sparks a discussion about wants and needs, as well as the fulfillment that can be found in helping others. For our full review of Those Shoes, CLICK HERE!
This important story provides an powerful look at childhood hunger in a manner readily understandable for young kids. I always read this with my elementary students, and it prompts great discussions not just about how important it is to help others in need, but also how to handle a situation when a friend makes you promise to keep a secret that causes you to worry about his or her well-being.
A stunning debut! Everyone in the neighborhood follows the delicious scent of stew to Omu’s doorstep, where Omu (meaning “queen” in the Igbo language of the author’s parents) dishes her meal out with love. But when it comes time for Omu to sit down for dinner, she realizes she left no stew for herself! This is a gorgeous, timeless story of generosity and community, beautifully conveying that one good deed deserves another — and sharing is everything. Hands down one of my very favorite gratitude books for kids!
As a boy and his grandmother ride the bus one afternoon, the child continually asks his grandma about various luxuries they don’t have. His grandmother helps open the boy’s eyes to all of the ways in which they are rich, even though they may not have certain gadgets and gizmos. When their bus ride ends, the reader learns the two are going to volunteer at a soup kitchen. A surprise ending to a marvelous, remarkable book.
I can’t get enough of this series of books. They are pure perfection when talking about manners with little kids, and this one, Thank You, Mr. Panda, shows us how we can graciously accept gifts even if they aren’t quite what we were hoping for. This is such a great story to help children understand that the simple act of being given a present is something to be thankful for, even if the present itself may not be our favorite.
If you have little ones in your house, this is an adorable children’s book about gratitude to show kids all the ways you can express thankfulness when your own words may not seem enough. From hugs to notes to crocodiles, this vibrant story will help kids say thank you when people make a difference in their worlds.
This gorgeous book showcases the glorious wonders of life, from the world’s oceans to our human bodies, from sweet music to the earth’s bountiful harvest. The illustrations are breathtaking and the sentiment is spot on, giving us a gentle reminder of the many gifts our world continues to offer. We have so much to be thankful for!
When Grace sets out to write thank you letters for her birthday gifts, she realizes that she mustn’t only say thank you for presents — there are so many things to be thankful for! She thanks the teacher who helped her learn to read, the sky for being blue, and even her dog for wagging his tail. The result? Her thoughtful notes spark showers of gratitude, and one community is joyful as thankfulness embraces the town.
“The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time. The more we say thanks, the more we find to be thankful for. And the more we find to be thankful for, the happier we become.” Need I say more? This is such a beautiful and lyrical children’s book about gratitude!
I just adore this Yiddish folk tale, the story of an unfortunate man who lived with his mother, six kids and his wife in a one bedroom hut. When the man seeks advice from a wise rabbi because the home is crowded and the family is bickering, the rabbi tells the man on several different occasions to bring his animals into the hut– first his chickens, then his goat, then his cow. When the man eventually tells the rabbi he can’t take it anymore, the rabbi tells him to let all the animals back outside. What ensues? The man ends up exactly where he started – but now he is so grateful for the serenity!
Sometimes it is hard to recognize how much we have to be thankful for when it comes to ourselves and our abilities, especially when you watch your friends with envy and marvel at the things they do so well that you just can’t do at all. This sweet story reminds us to celebrate our differences and to be grateful for everything that makes us special as individuals.
After their home is a destroyed by a fire, Rosa and her family save coins in a big jar. What are they saving up for? A big, comfortable chair so the family can relax after their respective long days. This story is poignant and so beautifully conveys one spirited family’s will to persevere after a tragedy as well as the gratitude they display to those around them, even when their own losses were devastating.
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Who better to teach young kids about gratitude than our dear friends Elephant and Piggie? Join the two animals in the last book of this hit series as they go on a thank-o-rama and show their appreciation for everyone who helped make their stories a hit. If your little ones love Piggie and Gerald like my kids and students, this is one not to miss. For our full review of The Thank You Book, CLICK HERE!
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