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Books for Exploring Gratitude

We are thrilled to share this very special collection of books, curated by Lauren Bercuson of Happily Ever Elephants. Lauren’s extensive knowledge and sincere passion for children’s literature is undeniable; we adore the thoughtful book lists she has created for children of all ages! When it comes to exploring sensitive or complex topics as a family, Lauren’s blog is a valuable resource. These picks are sure to inspire meaningful conversations about gratitude.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it's the season to be thankful! These are some of my favorite books to get kids talking about the things for which they are grateful. From the food on our tables to a tender hug from a loved one, each of these stories provides an important reminder that we have a multitude of blessings to count not just during the holidays, but all year round. Even more important? Several of these books provide vital reminders that the things we often take for granted are missing from homes around the country. In addition to reminding us to be thankful, these books shed light on the various ways we can extend a helping hand to our friends and neighbors. Happy reading!

Apple Cake: A Gratitude, by Dawn Casey and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout

In this simple yet beautiful picture book, 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. Rhythmic prose and delightful illustrations make this a winner, especially for young children. 

The Thankful Book, by Todd Parr

This is another perfect book to read with toddlers and young children! The Thankful Book, with its vibrant, childlike illustrations, encourages kids to recognize all of the everyday things in their lives for which they should be grateful.

We are Grateful: Ostaliheliga, by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frane Lessac

In this beautiful “own voices” book set within a vibrant Cherokee community, readers travel through the seasons and are given a glimpse of the Native American community at rest and play.  The word “ostaliheliga” is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude and is sprinkled throughout the pages. 

Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Jones

Jeremy wants nothing more than the same pair of shoes 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 special story brilliants sparks a discussion about wants and needs, as well as the fulfillment that can be found in helping others.

Thank you, Omu!, by Oge Mora

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.

Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson

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 without the possessions he desperately wants. When their bus ride ends, the reader learns the two are going to volunteer at a soup kitchen. A surprise ending to a remarkable book.

Thank You, Mr. Panda, by Steve Antony

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 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.

The Thank You Book, by Mo Willems

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.

The Thank You Letter, by Jane Cabrera

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. 

A Chair for My Mother, by Vera M. Williams

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.

About the Author

After twelve years as an attorney, Lauren Bercuson gave up the law to pursue her passion for children’s literature. She is now an elementary school library media specialist, and after her two boys are tucked away in bed, she is an aspiring writer, avid reader, and blogger. Lauren has a not-so-secret obsession with books of all kinds, and her greatest joy is watching her kids fall in love with wondrous stories. On her blog, Happily Ever Elephants, Lauren shares book lists for kids of all ages, from board books to picture books to middle grade books for tweens. You can also find her on Instagram @happily.ever.elephants and Twitter @HEElephants.

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