What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to teach your children about gratitude? The following books will hopefully inspire children and help them appreciate the many gifts in their lives.
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Apple Cake: A Gratitude by Dawn Casey; illustrated by Genevieve Godbout, 2019
(Ages 3 – 6)
Short text and charming illustrations follow a young girl and her adorable dog as they collect ingredients to make an apple cake. Simple rhymes verbalize the girl’s appreciation for all around her. The cozy illustrations and words create a feeling of warmth and happiness most likely inspiring readers to use the recipe in the back of the book to make their own delicious apple cake!
The Thankful Book by Todd Parr, 2012
(Ages 2 – 6)
Todd Parr uses bright colors and engaging illustrations to remind children of the many things to be thankful for. Some highlights include personal characteristics such as, “I am thankful for my feet because they help me run and play,” while other listings are more comical and heartwarming. With its vivid illustrations and concise text, this is an excellent read aloud for young children.
The Thank You Book by Mary Lyn Ray; illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, 2018
(Ages 3 – 6)
This delightful book teaches children that saying “thank you” isn’t just part of being polite. Concise text and sweet illustrations present a myriad of experiences many children will recognize in their everyday lives and teaches readers how to appreciate them.
Bear Says Thanks (Bear series) by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Jane Chapman, 2012
(Ages 3 – 6)
Bear wants to make a feast to share with his forest friends, but his cupboard is bare. Luckily his friends turn up at his cave with an assortment of foods. Each time a friend arrives, Bear let’s out a boisterous “Thanks!” Right before they dig in, however, Bear frets that he has contributed nothing to the wonderful meal. His friends reassure him that while he couldn’t provide food, he can share stories. They gather around and listen to Bear’s tales while they enjoy a beautiful feast together.
With its flowing rhymes and chorus of “Thanks”, this is a perfect book for a Thanksgiving themed storytime. This was one of my son’s favorite series when he was around three-years-old and was very popular with the Pre-Kindergarten students at my old school. This is a sweet story of friendship, gratitude, and sharing that is simply charming.
Give Thank You A Try by James Patterson, 2017
(Ages 3 – 5)
James Patterson, who is famous for writing thrilling books for adults, has now turned his talents to picture books. Featuring a variety of artists, each two-page-spread is a different celebration of giving thanks. The types of gratitude range from everyday joys such as “PB&Js in our PJs” to more sentimental moments such as a mother thankful for her family’s support while in the hospital. We enjoyed looking at the diverse styles of illustrations and all of the things in life to be thankful for.
An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton, 2010
(Ages 3 – 8)
This silly book reminds us all of how important it is to be thankful for everything and everyone around us and for all things that may be possible or even impossible such as “Girelephants in silly hats skipping rope with jungle cats.” There is no real story here except the narrator’s appreciation of various things. It’s length, pacing, strong message, and whimsicalness reminds me of Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. It is a fun book that is engaging and leaves readers with the terrific message of being thankful.
The Thank You Book (Elephant and Piggie series) by Mo Willems, 2016
(Ages 4 – 8)
Hearts were broken everywhere when Mo Willems announced that he would be ending his famous Elephant and Piggie series, but the final book makes a great lesson in gratitude.
In their last book, Piggie, exuberant as ever, realizes she has a lot to be thankful for and she better get thanking! What follows is a comical review of past characters who appeared in the other books in the series.
This is another winner that makes me realize how thankful I am for Mo Willems and the wonderful books that he writes!
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson
(Ages 5 and up)
This award winner is the exceptional story of a boy named C.J. and his grandmother traveling through the city on a bus. On their journey, they meet a group of diverse people and the grandmother teaches C.J. what it means to be part of a community, be grateful, and to find beauty in everything around him.
The Thank You Letter by Jane Cabrera, 2019
(Ages 5 and up)
After her birthday party, Grace writes thank you letters for all of her gifts. When she finishes, she realizes that she is not only thankful for her presents, but for other people in her community. She busily writes more notes alerting people and even animals how grateful she is. In a sweet ending, she returns home to find a ton of letters showing other’s appreciation for her.
Ten Thank-You Letters by Daniel Kirk, 2014
(Ages 5 – 10)
When Rabbit stops at Pig’s house to play, he discovers that Pig is writing a thank you note to his grandmother. Rabbit is inspired and borrows paper, envelopes, and stamps to write his own thank you letters. While Pig composes a long, detailed letter, Rabbit creates several short letters to a variety of people.
This is a great book to use to motivate children to reflect on people in their family or community they appreciate and encourage them to write thank you notes of their own.
Giving Thanks: more than 100 ways to say thank you by Ellen Surrey, 2016
(Ages 3 – 6)
As the title implies, this book provides a plethora of ideas of how to thank important people in children’s lives.
The first page introduces a little boy named Andy who engages the reader by asking who they would like to say thank you to. The two-page spread is broken into panels featuring a variety of people most likely part of a child’s life including parents, siblings, teachers, pets, friends, stuffed animals, etc. Each spread follows the same format of asking a question such as, “What would you like to say thank you for?” or “If you could give them a gift, what you would give?” alongside panels of examples.
For me, it became a little redundant, but I included it in this list because it also prompted a great conversation with my five-year-old about who he is thankful for and the fun ways he could show his gratitude. I also appreciated the ideas in the back such as making your own gratitude jar and creating thank-you cards for your friends and family.