What does it mean to be thankful?

Let’s be honest: the month of November tends to be overlooked, especially by kids. Once Halloween is over, it’s a waiting game until December, when various exciting (and present-yielding) holidays are celebrated by many and a general air of anticipation is in the air. November is the month of Thanksgiving, but what does that mean for the young people in your family? When I was a kid, the best thing about Thanksgiving was getting to eat as many Pillsbury crescent rolls as I wanted and my mom’s Apple Betty for dessert. I took for granted that the faces sitting around the table would always be there. As a teacher, parent, and now librarian, I find myself especially reflective this November.

What does it mean to be thankful? How can we foster gratitude in our children? Reading is a wonderful way to not only build family bonds but also develop empathy for others. I’m hopeful that this short list of picture books will provide an entry point into meaningful discussions about gratitude. Enjoy this month of cooler weather, family time, pumpkin spice, and…reading!

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, Traci Sorell
A meditation on a year’s worth of gratitude, written by a Cherokee poet. Here is a great interview with the author.

Thankful, Elaine Vickers and Samantha Cotterill
This book follows a young girl who shares what she is thankful for. Beautiful illustrations. Check out this darling activity book you can download, complete with a template to make your own thankful chain at home.

Our Table, Peter H. Reynolds
Violet’s family grows increasingly busy and disconnected as they are pulled in many different directions. This book celebrates meaningful connections by the author of The Dot.

Thank You, Omu!, Oge Mora
Omu’s generosity shines through in this beautifully collaged tale that is reminiscent of Stone Soup… in reverse.

Gold!, David Shannon
I couldn’t resist adding David Shannon’s newest book to this list. Max is obsessed with gold, much like King Midas, and accumulates a mind-boggling amount of it by age seven. Will he ever learn to be grateful?


By Heather Baraga, Librarian and Literacy Coach

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