Thanksgiving is a day for Americans to gather together with family and friends for feasting and football. While many people consider the Pilgrims celebratory harvest feast in 1621 as the first Thanksgiving, the feast wasn’t repeated. In fact, to the pilgrims, a thanksgiving was a religious holiday spent in church thanking God for a specific event. Certainly not the dancing and celebrations they had those three days in 1621! However, the world has a history of celebrating successful harvests and setting aside time to give thanks for one’s blessings. And practicing gratitude has positive effects for people in empathy and wishing to be helpful, in an increased sense of well-being and better physical health, and in promoting new friendships.
So while you have some time off from school, delve into one of these books inspiring gratitude (in between helping your parents cook and accepting smothering hugs from Aunt Edna of course!)
Preschool to 3rd Grade
An Awesome Book of Thanks, by Dallas Clayton
With beautiful language and exceptional illustration, this book expresses all the ways one can be thankful and what there is to be thankful for. Encourage your kids to come up with their own book of thanks.
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?, by Dr. Seuss
This story uses classic and clever rhymes to show it’s okay to be sad once in a while and shows that we are lucky to be who we are and to have all that we have. We are all unique and lucky in our own, special way.
Gratitude Soup, by Olivia Rosewood
Violet makes an imaginary soup from all the people, places, things, and experiences she loves and is grateful for having in her life. She shrinks it all down and keeps the gratitude soup flowing warm in her body and heart all day and night. Inspire your kids to make their own soup full of gratitude!
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig
Sylvester the donkey finds a magic pebble and makes a wish with unexpected results. Eventually, Sylvester is reunited with his family after a long period of loneliness, resulting in gratitude for his loved ones. A reminder for everyone to be thankful for their family and freedom.
4th grade through Middle School
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
In touching, powerful poems, Woodson shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. An emotional read of a child’s search for her place in the world and an eye towards mindfulness.
I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives, by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch
A school pen pal assignment leads to six years of correspondence between a middle class girl from the U.S. and a poor Zimbabwean boy. The unique bond forged between the two families will help you appreciate modern day conveniences, education, and the many guaranteed rights we have as Americans.
Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper
Melody has cerebral palsy, but she also has a photographic memory. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but no one knows it as they dismiss her as mentally challenged. Melody refuses to be defined by her disability. Explore the thankfulness for the genuine kindness of others in this New York Times bestseller.
Wonder, by R. J. Palacio
Auggie Pulman’s new classmates can’t get past his extraordinary face, while he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid. The various character perspectives demonstrate the community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance, as well as conveys lessons in gratitude for good friends, supportive family, and understanding teachers.
Let me know what you think of these books and add your own favorite books of gratitude to the list!