Remembering Our Blessings: Children’s Books About Gratitude

Thanksgiving is possibly my favorite holiday. It’s (mostly) free from the commercial pressures of the bookends of Halloween and Christmas. It’s really all about eating good food, hanging out with family and friends and remembering our blessings. Gratitude is a character trait that is great to cultivate all year in your kids. Here are some books to help sow those seeds. 

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
The text of this Caldecott Honor Book is a lovely poem listing the importance of all the things big and small that make up our life as humans. Paired with beautiful, detailed illustrations by  Marla Frazee, this book is a great way to start a conversation about counting blessings. 

A beautiful way to continue the conversation about gratitude is to read Thanku: Poems of Gratitude. This is a collection of poems by various authors who express gratitude for a wide variety of everyday things: the sky, birthdays, birds, stars, and even the number zero. 

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson 

Bear decides to throw a feast for friends, but his cupboards are bare. His friends arrive with wonderful treats. Bear worries about what to give them back even as he thanks them for their gifts. He realizes at the end that the thing they want most from his is something only he can give. This is one of many wonderful books about Bear and his forest friends from Karma Wilson, check out all of them. 

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
Patrician Polacco is the author of dozens of beloved children’s books. This one tells the real-life story of how she struggled as a child with dyslexia and the teacher who helped recognize her struggle and help her overcome it. It’s a wonderful way to think about specific people who have been important in the lives of our kids. 

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena 

Winner of the Newbery Medal (somewhat controversially for a picture book) and a Caldecott Honor book, this lovely book follows a grandmother and grandson as they take their weekly Sunday ride on the bus after church. The boy, CJ, finds much to complain about. But his grandmother always finds a way to show him the brighter side of what he sees as a problem. At the end of the book, we discover that they have been traveling to a soup kitchen where they volunteer weekly. In a gentle, understated way de la Pena shows the importance of being grateful and an example of giving back to one’s community. 

Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora is a gorgeous book that was another Caldecott Honor Book. Omu makes a large pot of red stew for herself for dinner. But the delicious smell draws in person after person in the neighborhood to her door and each time she shares a little bit, only to find at the end she has no stew left. The lovely ending shows everyone returning to her house with a gift for her to show their appreciation. The gifts together make a marvelous feast for everyone to share together.

Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Another award winning book (the Caldecott Medal), this wordless picture book retells Aesop’s fable about gratitude in stunning watercolor paintings. Wordless picture books are a great way to read with young kids as they can help tell the story in their own words as they look at the illustrations.  

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems 

In this installment in the fabulous Elephant & Piggies series, Piggie decides to thank everyone that is important in her life. Gerald is worried she is going to forget someone. Kids will laugh as Piggie tries to figure out who he means. And they will also be surprised and pleased that he isn’t trying to get her to thank him, but instead to thank the reader.