As we already know, reading to and with your children is one of the most important things you can do for their intelligence, as well as their moral compass. And good news! There’s no need to go out and buy new “Thanksgiving” specific themed books or cautionary tales about the kids who didn’t appreciate their salad on the dinner table. Thankfully, with the holiday season upon us, you already have books on your shelf to teach your little ones about the ‘reasons for the season.’
1- Room on the Broom (Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler). Just because this book has witches and brooms doesn’t mean it’s just for Halloween! In this kid’s classic, a good-hearted witch picks up some eager hitchhikers and graciously offers them a space on her broom until they suddenly find themselves in a pickle! The witch’s new friends get the chance to repay her kindness and at the end everyone’s gratitude is rewarded with a brand new “truly magnificent broom,” and more importantly, some new lifelong friends.
Themes of Thanks: being willing to share with others; being grateful for the generosity of others; learning a lesson in “paying it forward.”
2- Heroes of the Vegetable Patch (Ulf Stark & Charlotte Ramel). If you’ve ever been on the verge of insanity during an IKEA trip with the kiddos, chances are you’ve resorted to bribing them into good behavior with a gift when you’ve made it to the kids section. That, I’m afraid to admit, is exactly how this book came to live on our shelf… In it, two children decide to surprise their elderly neighbor by learning to take care of her most prized possession–her garden–while she is out of town. When the old lady returns from her journey, the kids have helped her garden to explode with new life and they have taken it upon themselves to sell the fruits and veggies for her at the farmers market. New skills and lessons are learned, a valuable friendship is created, and everyone is happier for it.
Themes of Thanks: helping others can be fun; teaching graciousness by reaching out to those in need; showing how being helpful can be deeply rewarding and satisfying.
3- Hands Can (Cheryl Willis Hudson & John-Francis Bourke). In this sweet, simple board-book, we are shown how important our hands are, and all the wonderful amazing things they can do! The readers also see photographs of kids just like themselves doing all sorts of fun things with their hands, inspiring them to get out and use their hands too.
Themes of Thanks: learning to see the importance in things we may take for granted everyday; emphasizing the simple pleasures in life and learning to be grateful for those things.
4- One Love (Cedella Marley & Vanessa Brantley-Newton). Based on her father’s hit song, Cedella Marley presents a sweet story interweaving lyrics from the song with her own lessons and meanings to create a colorful kid’s classic. The words talk about the love that “my family gives to me” and “the flower gives the bee” and the illustrations tell the story of the amazing things that can happen when we all work together to reach a common goal.
Themes of Thanks: reiterating all the ways love is present in our lives; showing how working together can create a beautiful outcome; learning to see beauty in places you may not have noticed before.
5- What Do People Do All Day? (Richard Scarry). While this entire book offers countless opportunities to teach readers lessons about the value of all people, my favorite part pertaining especially to learning how to be thankful is the first section entitled “Everyone is a Worker.” In this story, the reader is introduced to six different characters who all do their own special forms of work and, in turn, a domino effect of good will and worth is given back to the workers and to the greater community, as well.
Themes of Thanks: learning to see the value of helping others, whether to earn money or not; learning to value your own self-worth; being thankful for all the workers who often go unnoticed for their invaluable work.
6- What a Wonderful World (Bob Thiele, George David Weiss, & Tim Hopgood). “I see trees of green / red roses too / I see them bloom / for me and you / and I think to myself / what a wonderful world…” Really, I think this needs no explanation. A children’s book-setting of Louis Armstrong’s most famous song, this book brings to life the beautiful lyrics we have all grown to love and reminds us that beauty is everywhere.
Themes of Thanks: being thankful for the beauty that surrounds us every day; remembering to take time to notice the “simple gifts” that are always around us; teaching us that being thankful is showing love to others.
7- An Awesome Book of Thanks! (Dallas Clayton). If I had to pick my favorite, it would be this one. Dallas Clayton is a genius in creating books that kids love for their colorful whimsy and that parents love for making them break down in a sobbing pool of emotion every single time they read them. (I know I’m not the only one…)
Themes of Thanks: learning that a simple “thank you” can make all the difference in the world; showing the interconnectedness of all beings; showing how fun and exciting being grateful can be.
So, because I couldn’t think of any better way to sum this up, I’ll leave you with this unadulterated lesson of gratitude from our #7 book on the list: