4 Great Books That Teach Gratitude

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The fall-to-winter season is a favorite in my house, but probably not for the obvious reasons. Yes, there are birthdays and holidays and fun things to do and see, and we enjoy all of those things. My daughter loves to decorate every square inch of the house come Halloween, and she is the first to pull those decorations down and get the Thanksgiving ones up come November 1. But it isn't the decorating or the celebrating that we all look forward to each fall — those are just added bonuses. It's something much greater that keeps us on the edge of our seats as late summer bleeds into early fall:


Although the world is a busy place and many families feel overscheduled and stretched thin this time of year, our little family huddles together and slows down. We spend time playing, reading, and enjoying the small moments. We work together to help other families, and we count our blessings.

We also revisit our favorite books of the season.

Life can get busy, and sometimes, it probably feels difficult to find the perfect moment to sit down and talk about the importance of gratitude. I hear this a lot in my office. Parents want to teach gratitude and spend time giving thanks, but life keeps them running. I understand. I really do. I make a conscious choice to avoid the culture of busy that surrounds us, but even so, I still feel the pull at times.

It's not always easy to slow down and appreciate the little things, but it certainly does reset our souls and send a powerful message to our kids when we do.

Reading is a great way to come together as a family and talk about the important things in life. When families spend time engaged in a good book, they strengthen their bonds and teach valuable lessons. Try out a few of these children's books that focus on gratitude and giving thanks:

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Karma Wilson spins a delightful tale of gratitude and giving thanks with her book Bear Says Thanks. In this sweet celebration of friendship, Bear decides to throw a feast to give thanks to his friends. The only problem? His cupboard is bare.

Bear's friends quickly come to the rescue with their offerings to make the feast a success, but Bear struggles to find a way to contribute. How can he show his friends his appreciation? Bear's friends remind him that his stories are always appreciated and would make a wonderful contribution to the party.


{ MORE: 5 Tips for Teaching Gratitude }

This story reminds us that we all have something to offer and to look for the little things. Gratitude doesn't come from large offerings; gratitude comes from appreciating the small moments.

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It's only natural for kids to want things during the holiday season. They are bombarded with images in catalogs and on TV, and other kids talk about their own holiday wishlists. While adults worry about kids getting the “gimmies,” kids enjoy wishing and dreaming about fun stuff.

Todd Parr really breaks down the important things in life in The THANKFUL Book. With fun and engaging illustrations, this book helps kids focus on the things that bring them happiness each and every day. It might be music that makes you feel like dancing or nature that gets you outside. By slowing down and thinking about what we already have, kids can practice gratitude.

{ MORE: 6 Activities to Teach Little Ones Gratitude }

This book is sure to inspire your own gratitude list this season!

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In this beautifully illustrated story, Violet the Purple Fairy learns how to make her own gratitude soup by thinking about the people, places, experiences, and things in her life that make her feel grateful.

{ MORE: How to Make a Meaningful Gratitude Jar with Your Family }

Gratitude Soup is a great story for bringing a fairly abstract concept in the mind of a young child to life. The idea of putting all of the good things in your life in a pot, stirring them together, and holding them in your heart is sure to inspire your own recipe for Gratitude Soup.


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P.K. Hallinan inspires kids everywhere to find happiness in the smallest places (the sun, the moon, the flowers) in his delightful book I'm Thankful Each Day. The illustrations are bright and cheery and the message is simple: Gratitude is everywhere — we just have to stop and look around.

One of my favorite things to do with my kids is just to take a walk through our local park. We stop to appreciate each flower, watch bugs at work, and observe the setting sun on the horizon. This book is similar to walk through the park — it begs you to slow down and give thanks for the little things that bring us great happiness.

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4 Great Books That Teach Gratitude

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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