A collage of three of the books featured: Those Shoes, My Heart Fills with Happiness and The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings
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5 Picture Books to Help Kids Understand Gratitude

Oct 5, 2017

My dining room table is currently set up with a stack of cards, envelopes, pens and stickers so that my four-year-old can send thank-you notes to family and friends who attended his recent birthday party. While I’m sure he’d rather be playing with his gifts than talking about them, it’s all part of an effort to instill in him a sense of gratitude — not just for the material things that he receives, but also for the people who help to make these celebrations so special.

Raising grateful kids isn’t just about teaching them to say thank you, of course. Cultivating an attitude of appreciation happens in little ways every day. You might get kids thinking about the things they’re thankful for with a round of Gratitude Pictionary or a special craft project. Story time is a perfect opportunity for exploring themes of gratitude and thankfulness, too! Here are five great books about gratitude that you’ll want to read over and over again.


My Heart Fills With Happiness (By Monique Gray Smith, Illustrated by Julie Flett)

Recommended for ages 3 and up

Image from the cover of My Heart Fills with Happiness

With beautiful illustrations by Julie Flett, this sweet board book will help little ones reflect on the simple joys in life, from singing and dancing to holding the hand of someone they love. On the last page, author Monique Gray Smith poses the question “what fills YOUR heart with happiness?” opening the door for a conversation about all the things your child is feeling grateful for that day.


The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings (By Stan and Jan Berenstain)

Recommended for ages 3-7

Image from the cover of The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings

Brother and Sister Bear might have video games and dolls, but their friends always seem to have more — and all their complaining leaves Mama Bear feeling upset. She tells her cubs that it’s time to stop focusing on the things that they don’t have, and appreciating all the things that they do have. When Bear Country is hit by a scary thunderstorm, Brother and Sister Bear get an important lesson in counting their blessings. It turns out that the things they have — like a cozy home and loving family — are pretty great after all!   


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Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? (By Dr. Seuss)

Recommended for ages 5-9

Image from the cover of Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

You just can’t go wrong with the classic rhymes and zany humour of Dr. Seuss. In this story, a boy happens upon a wise old man in the Desert of Drize and gets some valuable life advice about being grateful for your circumstances, because things could always be
worse! Complaining about chores? Well, at least you’re not poor Ali Sard who has to cut grass that grows as quickly as he mows! Tired of homework? Be grateful you’re not Professor de Breeze, who has to teach Irish ducks to read Jivvanese. With a cast of colourful characters and wacky scenarios, this book is the perfect antidote to a grumpy, grumbly day. 


Those Shoes (By Maribeth Boelts, Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones)

Recommended for ages 5-8

Image from the cover of Those Shoes.

Jeremy desperately wants to own a pair of the latest, greatest high tops — but grandma reminds him that “want” and “need” are not the same. When his shoes fall apart and he suddenly needs a new pair, Jeremy hopes that he’ll be able to get his dream shoes and fit in with the other kids in class. They’re too expensive at the shoe store, but Jeremy finds a pair at the thrift shop and can’t believe his luck! Even though they don’t fit, Jeremy is determined to make it work. But when his friend Antonio comes to school wearing taped-up shoes, Jeremy decides to give his prized sneakers away to someone who really needs them. Maribeth Boelts’ heartwarming story about caring for others and being grateful for the things we have — even if they’re not the latest and greatest — is one that’s sure to resonate with kids and adults alike.


Let Your Light Shine: Kids’ Mini Gratitude Journal (By Awesome Inc)

Recommended for ages 8 and up

Two of the pages from inside the journal: one is a colouring page, and the other has space to record three things the reader is grateful for.

While it’s not exactly the kind of book that you sit down and read together, this list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to gratitude journals! Using a journal can be a helpful tool in teaching kids about gratitude and mindfulness, and it may even have a positive impact on their future health and well-being. This particular journal features a kid-friendly design, with space on each page for your kiddo to list three things they’re feeling grateful for each day.

Article Author Alicia McAuley
Alicia McAuley

 Alicia McAuley is a freelance writer, editor and all-around web nerd who never met a pop culture reference she didn't like. The former editor of a parenting website, these days she shares a home office in the suburbs with her husband, two adorable boys, and two lazy cats. You can find her cracking jokes on Twitter @aliciamcauley and pinning projects for her to-do list on Pinterest.

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