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Growing Gratitude

15 Gorgeous Picture Books to Foster True Thankfulness

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • October 31, 2021

Expressing thanks doesn't just benefit those around us. Exercising appreciation has been shown to make us healthier and happier. And you're never too young to start practicing this invaluable skill. Here are fifteen picture books to help young readers learn about gratitude.

Realizing Gratitude

For kids to understand the sense of being thankful, they must first recognize the ways in which they are fortunate. Here are some books that help children learn to count their blessings.

My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith
The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful narrative reminds us to cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
As CJ rides the bus across town with his grandma, he asks her "Why don't they have a car? Why can't he have an iPod like his friends? Why do they have to get off the bus in the dirty part of town?" His grandma helps him appreciate his good fortune.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
"I am thankful for music because it makes me want to dance. I am thankful for my feet because they help me run and play. I am thankful for kisses because they make me feel loved." This book celebrates all the little things children enjoy.

An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton
Inspired by the idea of being thankful for all that you have, this simple story encourages kids to look around and find things, both real and imaginary, to appreciate in the world. It reminds readers of just how beautiful life can be.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. But Jeremy's grandma says he needs new boots for winter. In this story, a boy realizes that the things he has are worth more than the things he wants.

Sharing Gratitude

The habit of saying thanks and showing appreciation is reinforced by the good vibes it creates around us. These books can help kids learn how an attitude of gratitude builds a better community and world.

Around the Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill
This is the table that Grandad built. These are the sunflowers picked by my cousins, set on the table that Grandad built. In this take on the cumulative classic "The House That Jack Built," a family gathers with friends to share a meal.

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
When Bear decides to thank his friends with a feast, they show up one by one with delicious food to share. But Bear's own cupboards are bare. What will he do? Young readers will delight in discovering the special gift Bear has to share.

The Thank You Book by Mary Lyn Ray
"Thank you isn't just for learning manners. It's also for when something wakes a little hum—a little happy hum—inside you and you want to answer back." This book celebrates the powerful impact gratitude can have inside us.

Apple Cake: A Gratitude by Dawn Casey
In this simple rhyming story, a child says thank you for the gifts nature provides, from nuts to apples to eggs, and her family collects these gifts to make a delicious apple cake. Included is a recipe for apple cake to bake with young readers.

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith
This vibrant book encourages children to show love and support for each other, with guidance for building relationships, fostering empathy, and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens.

Practicing Gratitude

Feeling and showing gratitude takes daily practice and reflection. These books will help readers, young and old, learn about developing habits that hone our ability for appreciation.

Thank You Body, Thank You Heart by Jennifer Cohen Harper
This lovely book offers a simple bedtime ritual of gratitude, guiding kids through the practice of giving thanks for the most essential thing of all: the bodies and minds that carry us through life.

Look and Be Grateful by Tomie dePaola
"For today is today. Be grateful for everything you see . . . Today is today, and it is a gift." Perfect for the youngest readers, this story offers a poignant reminder to be grateful for each and every day.

Thanku: Poems of Gratitude by Miranda Paul
This anthology, edited by Miranda Paul, explores a wide range of ways to practice gratitude with poems by a diverse group of contributors, including Joseph Bruchac, Margarita Engle, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Naomi Shihab Nye.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, this book traces a full year of Cherokee celebrations.

When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L. B. Deenihan
In this charming tale a child is initially disappointed when her Grandma gives her a lemon tree (instead of a gadget) for her birthday. But after following some careful, and humorous, instructions, she finds a way to appreciate her gift.

It takes daily work and practice to develop and sustain the ability to be grateful for all the good things in our lives. That practice begins when we are very small, with smiles and kisses and cuddles and continues throughout our lives.

And in that spirit: Many thanks from all of us at ThriftBooks. We are grateful for YOU!

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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