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Growing Reader

Books to Help Teach Kids About Gratitude

by Jennifer Garry

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Photo credit: fizkes, iStock/Getty Images Plus

We’ve all done it, gently (or slightly less than gently) reminding our kids to express their gratitude as they accept something — whether it’s as big as a gift or as small as a compliment. But teaching tiny humans to be grateful is much more than forcing niceties. It’s a mindset that plenty of practice can cultivate.

These seven books for early readers will encourage kids to not only say thank you but to look around and appreciate the good things — both big and small — in their everyday lives.

  • The Thank You Letter

    by Jane Cabrera

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    When Grace writes thank you letters for her birthday gifts, she realizes there is a wealth of things in her life that she’s thankful for — so she writes letters to all of them. Grace writes to her teacher, her dog, the sky, and more, thanking them for the gifts they give her every day. After she delivers her messages of appreciation, she comes home to a pile of thank you’s of her own. This story is a great way to start a conversation with kids about expressing gratitude to others.

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  • The Blessing of You

    by Mark Batterson and Summer Batterson Dailey, illustrated by Benedetta Capriotti

    Pastor Mark Batterson and his daughter encourage young readers to be kind and grateful in this sweet rhyming story. With engaging illustrations and diverse characters enjoying relatable activities, this book urges readers to count their blessings while recognizing that they bless their friends and family.

  • I Am Thankful

    by Suzy Capozzi, illustrated by Eren Unten

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    Part of the Positive Power series (a collection that teaches readers about positive affirmations), this book centers on the declaration “I am thankful.” Readers spend the day with a boy on Thanksgiving as he takes part in family traditions and faces a few hiccups along the way.

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  • God Gave Us Thankful Hearts

    by Lisa Tawn Bergren, illustrated by David Hohn

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    This book about Lil Pup (a wolf) and his wise Mama is an excellent story for young readers transitioning to a new phase in life. When Lil Pup expresses his sadness that many of his friends are hibernating for the winter, Mama reminds him to concentrate on the things that make him happy.

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  • Those Shoes

    by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

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    Jeremy wants the cool shoes that all of his classmates have, but his grandma tells him they can only afford essential items — and expensive shoes don’t make the list. When his sneakers fall apart, Jeremy determines to stuff his feet into a too-small secondhand pair of Those Shoes. But when he notices a friend in need, he realizes there’s more to life than cool shoes.

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  • My First Gratitude Journal

    by Creative Journals for Kids

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    This journal encourages kids to write and draw about things they’re grateful for with simple daily prompts. Every ten days, a new prompt asks them to think about gratitude differently (for example, one prompt asks kids to tap into their senses and list things they’re grateful to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell). This journal makes a thoughtful gift that will become a cherished keepsake for the recipient.

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  • We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

    by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac

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    Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this book takes readers through a year’s worth of modern Cherokee celebrations. It takes special note of the otsaliheliga (gratitude) the community feels for its blessings and struggles. It also includes a glossary for readers to learn some Cherokee words.

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