Inside: Find 15 inspiring gratitude books for kids along with 3 fun activities perfect for families pursuing faith and compassion.
One of my favorite ways to teach my kids important things–like practicing gratitude–is to LET SOMEONE ELSE TELL THEM. I don’t mean shirking and shrugging and hoping someone else will step up. I mean setting up intentional ways for them to hear important truths from people other than my husband and me.
Why? Because they hear our voices A LOT. And it’s all too easy for them to give us the “Oh, Mom,” or “Oh, Dad,” and let our words bounce right off.
Case in point: The “teacher effect.” It goes like this:
You tell your kids something is important.
They ignore you.
Their teacher tells them the same thing.
They are immediate converts.
They campaign the neighborhood.
Yes, they fervently share their “newfound” knowledge with everyone–especially you (the one who tried to convince them in the first place).
The “Teacher Effect” + Gratitude Books for Kids
One of my favorite ways to employ the teacher effect is with good children’s books. Ideas are so much more sticky/novel/exciting if they come from an author instead of Mom. Plus, stories melt defenses, engage emotions, and create great discussion opportunities.
So with the teacher effect in mind, I bring you 15 books about giving thanks, along with 3 book-related activities to help you teach kids gratitude all year long.
Gratitude Books for Younger Kids (Babies & Toddlers)
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Thanks A Lot
by Raffi and Jaime Kim
This adorable gratitude board book puts delightful pictures to the words of Raffi’s beloved “Thanks A Lot” song. Bonus: The music and lyrics are provided in the back!
Thank you, God, from A to Z
I love that kids can learn the alphabet while giving thanks to God! Rhyming lines make it fun to read while the featured letter stands out on each colorful page. And for the letter Y, we are “thankful, God, for You!”
Are you looking for more ways to teach your little ones the true meaning of gratitude? Check out this post with 10 ideas for cultivating gratitude with kids.
by Ethan Long
In this cute board book, animals give each other special gifts and say “thank you” with their animal sounds. “Bark, bark,” says the dog. “Hum, hum,” says the hummingbird. In the final spread, a boy says, “Thank you,” to his mom. Little ones will love it!
You Are My Happy
by Hoda Kotb
The title of this picture book doesn’t immediately signal that this is a book for cultivating gratitude with kids, but it actually fits the bill perfectly!
At the end of the day, a big bear and baby bear give thanks for the things they enjoy together. (It’s not specified whether it’s a mama bear or a papa bear [or a grandparent bear], which can make this a great choice for lots of loving family relationships.) Three times, the book repeats the chorus “That’s what made me happy,”, and on the last page the line changes to “You are my happy.” It’s so sweet! (If you’re looking for more books to tell kids “I love you,” check out this post by Karis and me.)
Gratitude Books for All Kids
My Heart Fills with Happiness
by Monique Gray Smith and Julie Flett
My Heart Fills with Happiness calls out simple, beautiful things to give thanks for with just enough repetition of that lovely title phrase. Though it’s simple, I read it with my older kids too because it’s so good. In fact, sometimes when I am reminding them to be grateful, I’ll whisper, “What do we say when our hearts fill with happiness?” (Thank you.)
This lovely gratitude book comes in board book and picture book formats. The picture book has both English and Anishinaabemowin, an Indigenous language spoken near the Great Lakes and surrounding areas (The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2017). A true treasure!
Thank you God, Good Night
by Marianne Richmond and Dubravka Kolanovic
This adorable rhyming gratitude book helps kids cultivate gratitude for blessings we can see (family, friends, play, nature, home) and the blessings we can’t see (God’s love, the light and hope God gives to those in need, peace in our worries, and more). It’s a wonderful way to thank God for His goodness, at bedtime or anytime. Check out more Christian children’s books here.
WHAT I LIKE MOST
by Mary Murphy and Zhu Cheng-Liang
In this thanks-focused picture book, a little girl takes note of the things she likes most in the world. Each one is described with deliberate detail and depth. The illustrations and pacing create space to breathe and enjoy the many little and big things that make life special.
Though she does not say “I am thankful for,” this is one of my favorite gratitude books for kids because she exudes thankfulness in the way she pauses, takes stock, and delights.
She is thankful for her window, the river, french fries, and so much more. At the end, the thing she likes “the very, very most in the world” is her mother. (I mean, what could be better than that?)
Try this book-related gratitude activity with kids
You could pair this book with some of the cards the author has created (free to print on her website). They are a great way to express your thanks to others. For more on encouraging others (and free coloring pages), check out this post.
Look and Be Grateful
by Tomie dePaola
Don’t overlook the powerful simplicity of this children’s book about gratitude by acclaimed author Tomie dePaola. I could see mamas and littles quoting parts of this book as they go on walks, saying, “Open your eyes and look. Open your eyes, and see, and say thank you.” On the last page, the children are shown praying outside surrounded by all the things they’re grateful for. Beautiful!
Thank You and Goodnight
by Patrick McDonnell
This story is 90% whimsical silliness and 10% gratitude–which is what makes it so perfect! After three animal friends have tons of fun at a pajama party, little Maggie tucks them in. Before they fall asleep, they all say what they’re thankful for, listing wonderful things about their happy night.
gratitude Journal for kids [Free & Fun]
Are you looking for a simple way to help kids grow in gratitude? Check out our Inspire Gratitude Journal for Kids. Filled with Bible verses, gratitude prompts, and space for creativity, it’s a fun and easy way to cultivate gratitude in your home or classroom.
The Thank You Dish
by Trace Balla
Find It: Amazon
When Mom starts to give thanks at dinner, Grace has more to add. She thanks the “kangaroos for not eating all the carrots” and “Leo for lending me the ladder so I could pick the lemons from lovely Lily’s tree.” Each statement of thanks gets more beautifully twisty-turny (like how I could imagine a similar chat with my youngest). This gratitude picture book for kids is a lovely, silly way to recognize how interlaced our blessings are!
We Give Thanks
by Cynthia Rylant and Sergio Ruzzier
As cartoon animals play and prepare a feast, they give thanks for family, weather, bugs, food, bikes, hugs, and more! Sergio Ruzzier’s signature style makes for fun illustrations that provide lots to enjoy as families read this picture book’s grateful, joyful, almost prayerful words.
GRACIAS * THANKS
by Pat Mora and John Parra
Even if you don’t know “hola” from “adios,” I highly recommend this lighthearted, playful bilingual book. In it, a boy expresses his gratitude for daily gifts, for family, and for the kinds of simple experiences that build strong memories. It had our family pondering the sweetness of a ladybug on one page and, on another, breaking out into giggles over the little brother throwing peas. (My kids were actually rolling on the floor laughing.)
The poetic format is engaging, and it really captures the heart of a child-–a heart we would all do well to cultivate. From the first page:
“For the sun that wakes me up so I don’t sleep for years and years and grow a long, white beard, thanks.”
I love it so much!
On the last page, a lovely note from the author gives this book that “teacher effect” I talked about. The author asks readers to think about what they are thankful for, shares what she is grateful for, and encourages us all to:
“Keep the circle of giving thanks, growing.”
Help kids put gratitude in action with this book-related practice
The “give thanks” format in this book is fun and easy to try:
For [thing you are thankful for] [why you are thankful for it or a detail about it], thanks.
Using that format as a sentence prayer can get me out of a rut as I run errands or clean up daily messes. The fresh phrasing wakes me up to all the blessings right there in front of me. It is a great one to try with kids, too.
Here is one I wrote just now about the pleasure of reading a book.
For the sound of turning pages and the discoveries I make with each flip, thanks.
Are you loving these gratitude books and practices for kids? Check out more gratitude activities in our post “Teach Kids Gratitude: 10 Easy Ways to Make a Big Difference.”
Thank you, Omu!
by Oge Mora
This gratitude story is delightful for so many reasons. It paints such a rich, fun scene as a diverse collection of folks in the neighborhood are drawn to Omu’s small apartment by the smell of her delicious stew. She shares with an open heart, and by dinnertime, her pot is empty. But when everyone comes back a second time, it’s not to ask, but to give, and their generosity is beautiful.
Gratitude Books for Older Kids (Middle/upper Elementary
Thanks a Million
by Nikki Grimes and Cozbi A. Cabrera
This gorgeous collection of poems will help older kids (and grown-ups too) see gratitude in new and beautiful ways. It calls our hearts to give thanks for teachers, friends, trees, weekends, and even baby brothers. In some of the more serious poems, the author delicately helps unearth gratitude in dark times of embarrassment, loss, and homelessness. In the final poem, a family gives thanks to the Lord around a beautiful feast. This is a children’s gratitude book to pray over, laugh over, talk over, and savor.
THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE
Anthology edited by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Marlena Miles
This gratitude anthology for kids is a treasure you will not want to save for Thanksgiving. The 32 poems, each written in a different format, give thanks for everything from the sky to Scotch tape to eyeglasses to the opportunity to do a good deed.
The book has robust back matter including a description of each poetic format, bios of the diverse cast of authors, and a note to educators and parents about celebrations of thankfulness.
But wait…there’s more! On an episode of The Children’s Book Podcast (now called Worth Noting), 16 of the book’s contributors share what they are thankful for and why they practice gratitude (enter: more “teacher effect”). Some also explain the poetic formats they chose and encourage kids to write their own poetry. They cover faith, the invention of zero, how they started writing poetry, and lots more.
Try this book-related gratitude practice with kids
For several weeks, this book and the accompanying podcast were part of our morning gratitude routine. “Routine” meaning we read/listened maybe 3 days out of 7–-we’re not great with routine. But still, it was a great way to bring a little contemplation and happiness into our day.
As we listened over the weeks, I asked my kids to think about what they were thankful for and what poetic format seemed best for expressing their thanks. When we finished Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, and it was time to write our poems…no one complained (read: this book is magical).
C (age 6 at the time) composed a found poem about rain. In a found poem, you scratch out words from a page of text and what remains is your poem. You can almost hear him saying, “What, Mom? A poetic device where you get to scribble out words? Yes, please!”
I wrote a hyperbole poem about the joy of finding sanitizing wipes during 2020. Ha ha!
And here is my 9-year-old’s palindrome poem alongside the one from the book:
If you loved this list of gratitude books for kids, let us know which one(s) you’re putting on your TBR list. Or add a different one you love in the comments.
- Teach Kids Gratitude: 10 Easy Ways to Make a Big Difference
- 20+ Christian Children’s Books Perfect for Giving (or Keeping)
- 25 Books to Tell Kids “I Love You”
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