Books that inspire gratitude

The Power of Picture Books - Stories That Inspire Gratitude

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Regardless of who we are or where we come from, I think the majority of parents have similar aspirations for their children - to be happy, healthy, well adjusted members of society.

With children, good character building needs to be modeled and taught.  While not a simple task, the journey does not have to be a boring and tedious one, especially with the help of picture books!

Besides being enjoyable, picture books are invaluable and effective tools in teaching your child about many topics, including some of the heavier subjects in life.  They can help to bridge the communication gap between parent and child and provide a springboard for some meaningful conversation, at any level.  Whether you are being proactive in your mission to create a balanced and respectful human being or you are trying to curb some unpleasant behaviour, picture books can relay a message that perhaps resonates with your child in a way your own words cannot. 

This week I decided to focus on gratitude.  True gratitude.  More than just politely saying thank you, this goes deeper than having manners.   True gratitude in the sense that you have an ability to understand and appreciate what others do for you- an ability to look outside yourself and your immediate needs.  Not an easy task, nor one that is remotely natural for most children.  But anything worthwhile usually deserves some mindful practice and effort. 

In my quest to support my own little one in her journey, I have compiled a list of titles I feel are powerful and effective stories in helping to inspire gratitude. Keep in mind that simply reading a picture book is not going to magically transform your child.  Rome was not built in a day.  But with perseverance, discussion, and proper modeling, you will begin to see the fruits of your labour take bloom and you will be thankful you made the effort.

(For simplicity, I have included the recommended age range but be mindful that these books can be enjoyed at any age.)

   The Thankful Book by Todd Parr    This clever book is simply in its language but serves as a reminder to focus on the everyday things in life that we are thankful for, like our hair because it makes us unique! I love the first page, “Everyday I try to think about the things I am thankful for.”  What a great starting point for conversations with your child.  After reading this book, they will be sure to come up with their own fun and unique list.  Reading this book before bedtime will be send them off to sleep with a full heart and a smile on their face.   Recommended for ages 2 to 6.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr

This clever book is simply in its language but serves as a reminder to focus on the everyday things in life that we are thankful for, like our hair because it makes us unique! I love the first page, “Everyday I try to think about the things I am thankful for.”  What a great starting point for conversations with your child.  After reading this book, they will be sure to come up with their own fun and unique list.  Reading this book before bedtime will be send them off to sleep with a full heart and a smile on their face.

Recommended for ages 2 to 6.

   The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood    The message throughout this book is to be grateful for the simple pleasures in life, the ones we often overlook or take for granted.  The ones we see in nature and all around us.  Douglas Wood is such a gifted author.  His language is rich, profound and descriptive.  This one is worth the buy.    Recommended for ages 3 – 8.

The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood

The message throughout this book is to be grateful for the simple pleasures in life, the ones we often overlook or take for granted.  The ones we see in nature and all around us.  Douglas Wood is such a gifted author.  His language is rich, profound and descriptive.  This one is worth the buy. 

Recommended for ages 3 – 8.

   Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen    This award winning book is so heartwarming not only for its language and illustrations but for its profound message of the importance of having gratitude.   Each page is full of examples of how good people are all around us and even includes activity pages for kids to practice how they too can show compassion and graciousness.  This book will certainly warm the hearts of both you and your child and its calming nature will make it a favourite bedtime story.    Recommended for ages 3 and up.

Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen

This award winning book is so heartwarming not only for its language and illustrations but for its profound message of the importance of having gratitude.   Each page is full of examples of how good people are all around us and even includes activity pages for kids to practice how they too can show compassion and graciousness.  This book will certainly warm the hearts of both you and your child and its calming nature will make it a favourite bedtime story. 

Recommended for ages 3 and up.

   The Old Woman Who Lived In A Vinegar Bottle by  Margaret Read MacDonald    This old British Fairy tale has a lot of appeal for kids.  It has a fun and predictable pattern that will quickly have them joining in as you read. It is a story about an old woman who is never content where she is living and a very patient fairy who keeps granting her wishes, despite her lack of gratitude.  It does not have a typical fairy tale ending but the last sentence provides a perfect springboard for some meaningful conversations about the cause and affect of being greedy and not gracious.    Recommended for ages 4 to age 8.

The Old Woman Who Lived In A Vinegar Bottle by  Margaret Read MacDonald

This old British Fairy tale has a lot of appeal for kids.  It has a fun and predictable pattern that will quickly have them joining in as you read. It is a story about an old woman who is never content where she is living and a very patient fairy who keeps granting her wishes, despite her lack of gratitude.  It does not have a typical fairy tale ending but the last sentence provides a perfect springboard for some meaningful conversations about the cause and affect of being greedy and not gracious. 

Recommended for ages 4 to age 8.

   An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton    Kids and parents alike will adore this read.   Its quirky list of things to be thankful for, both good or bad, combined with its wild characters and illustrations make it very light hearted and fun, while still providing an important message.    Recommended for ages 4 and up.

An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton

Kids and parents alike will adore this read.   Its quirky list of things to be thankful for, both good or bad, combined with its wild characters and illustrations make it very light hearted and fun, while still providing an important message. 

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

   The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor    Despite her obvious assumption that her family is poor, Mountain Girl’s parents have a much different definition of what it means to be rich, relating it to the more important things in life. Children of any age would enjoy the story and its unique illustrations, however the message is a bit abstract and may require some parent paraphrasing.    Recommended for ages 5 to 9.

The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor

Despite her obvious assumption that her family is poor, Mountain Girl’s parents have a much different definition of what it means to be rich, relating it to the more important things in life. Children of any age would enjoy the story and its unique illustrations, however the message is a bit abstract and may require some parent paraphrasing. 

Recommended for ages 5 to 9.

   Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? By Dr. Seuss     “You ought to be thankful a hole heaping lot, for The places and people you're lucky you're not!” In his brilliant Dr. Seuss way, we are reminded that while we may feel “sour and blue” we should be grateful for what we have, as there are always others less lucky than you.     Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? By Dr. Seuss

“You ought to be thankful a hole heaping lot, for The places and people you're lucky you're not!” In his brilliant Dr. Seuss way, we are reminded that while we may feel “sour and blue” we should be grateful for what we have, as there are always others less lucky than you. 

Recommended for ages 5 and up.

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