Thanksgiving Day may only come once a year, but teaching our children thankfulness, empathy and kindness should be ongoing no matter the day on the calendar! An attitude of gratitude makes us all happier–something I strive to remind myself of more often. I’ve put together a list of my current top ten books on thankfulness, and it is my hope that these stories will inspire important conversations and actions in your families. This list includes something for all ages and is a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. There is truly something for everyone. Happy reading!
Bear Says Thanks, Karma Wilson
This book may be the most Thanksgiving-inspired one of the bunch since Bear decides to invite all of his friends for a big dinner to say thank you. But there’s just one thing: his cupboards are bare! One by one, his friends drop by with delicious dishes to share. Bear Says Thanks has great repetition for little ones to practice saying “Thanks!”. If you love this one, check out the series, which begins with Bear Snores On.
Gracias / Thanks, Pat Mora
Looking for something a little different? This poetic Spanish/English picture book may be right up your alley. Featuring a diverse cast of characters and starring a multiracial young boy, Gracias / Thanks is a celebration of all the everyday things we can be thankful for. Literacy tip: Bilingual books are a great way to introduce a new language to your child, and open up a wonderful discovery of different cultures!
Whose Hands Are These? A community helper guessing book, Miranda Paul
This nonfiction book with fun rhyming text and adorable illustrations invites the reader to guess whose hands belong to a variety of community helpers. From farmers to teachers to police officers, kids will love shouting out the answers! Whose Hands Are These? is a great way to recognize and thank all the community helpers that make our communities safe and beautiful.
The Thank You Book, Mo Willems
Have you read any of the Elephant & Piggie series? This hilarious duo spans 25 silly and sweet books that are perfect for beginning readers! The Thank You Book is the last in the series, in which Piggie decides to thank everyone, but Gerald (the elephant) worries that Piggie will forget someone very important! This is the perfect opener to ask your little one who they’re thankful for.
Can We Help?
Kids volunteering to help their communities, George Ancana
This brilliantly photographed nonfiction book is sure to inspire action in your family. Can We Help? chronicles many different groups of children (of all ages!) partnering with nonprofits and other organizations to give back to their communities. It will definitely tug on your heartstrings!
Give Thank You a Try, James Patterson
Did you know famous mystery author James Patterson wrote children’s books? He’s got too many to list, but Give Thank You a Try is a smash-hit sequel to Give Please a Chance. Both books feature an array of different illustrators, which help to explain how many different ways and reasons to say thank you.
Wonder, R.J. Palacio
Before the movie starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay, before it hit the New York Times Bestseller list, and before the Choose Kind movement it inspired, a beautiful chapter book called, simply, Wonder, hit the shelves. Auggie Pullman was born with a rare facial deformity. The book begins from 5th-grader Auggie’s point of view, but switches to include classmates, family members, and people of the community, all struggling with and striving toward empathy, compassion, acceptance, and gratitude. I recommend everyone read this book, no matter your age.
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, Carol McCloud
If I’m being honest, I thought this book might be a little above my kids’ heads. I was shocked when they actually grasped the concept: mainly, that filling others’ “buckets” with thankfulness, kindness, and sharing will make their own “buckets” fill up and give them happiness as a result! It’s a wonderful reminder to spread kindness and gratitude to everyone you meet.
I’m Feeling Thankful (Daniel Tiger), Natalie Shaw
This board book from our favorite sweater-wearing tiger is a great introduction to the concept of thankfulness for toddlers and preschooolers. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood as a whole has some great tips on how to guide children through their emotions, and the books are no exception.
Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome, Robby Novak & Brad Montague
This fun book was written by 10-year-old Youtube sensation Robby Novak (Kid President – Declaration of Awesome), who discusses his dedication to kindness, corn dogs, the everyday joys of life, solving conflicts using ice cream, and remembering that things don’t have to be the way they are. Our world could use more kids like Kid President.