Mindfulness & Gratitude

Picture Books for Your Thanksgiving Table

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Deepen your holiday experience through story.

Thanksgiving can seem like a very self-conflicted holiday.

On one hand, this national day of feast has grown into a wonderful ritual of coming together to celebrate our blessings. On the other hand, it is still rooted in deeply problematic representations of native peoples and our national history.

Here’s another contradiction. As its title implies, Thanksgiving is a spirited, ready-made opportunity to celebrate the abundance in our lives. Unfortunately, this holiday also marks the unofficial kick-off to holiday shopping, wish lists, and a nationwide plague of “the gimmes.”

Don't let tired stereotypes and holiday greed overshadow your family’s Thanksgiving. Explore this growing list of picture books with your children, and take time to deepen your holiday experience.


Conversation Starters

  • Why is it so easy to forget the many things we are grateful for when we discover something new that we desperately want?

  • How can we remind ourselves to be satisfied with the good things already in our lives?

  • What if we woke up tomorrow and only had the things we expressed gratitude for today?

  • How can we tell the difference between what we need and what we want?

  • Is it wrong to want something more when you have so much?

  • Is it hard to feel grateful when you’ve had a difficult day? What can we do to remind ourselves of gratitude even when we’re not feeling very happy or grateful?

Featured Title

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Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp
This is a special children’s version of the Thanksgiving Address, a message of gratitude that originated with the Native people of upstate New York and Canada and that is still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations. Its celebration of so many things we universally cherish – love, nature, gratitude – make this a wonderful book to revisit throughout the year or read around the Thanksgiving table.


Additional DGT Favorites

The Circle of Thanks: Native American Poems and Songs of Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
This collection features works by Native American tribes including Cherokee, Kwakiutl, Pawnee, Navajo, and Papago. The assorted poems and songs offer wonderful food for thought on the topic of gratitude, family, and the rituals of celebration.

Grateful: A Song of Giving Things by Jon Bucchino
Including sheet music and a CD, this song-in-a-book invites readers to consider all they are thankful for in a peaceful, meditative way.

Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora
This poetic and joyful story introduces us to a young biracial boy as he celebrates the many reasons he feels thankful.

How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Bunting
A family is forced to flee their Caribbean island and set sail for America in a small fishing boat. They arrive on Thanksgiving Day, having experienced fears and hardships very similar to those faced by those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving. This is a very moving story sure to open a conversation about compassion and courage.

The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood
In the soothing, inspirational style Douglas Wood is famous for, this book unlocks the secret of gratitude. Parents will look forward to spending time with this gentle book.

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
Learn about the Pokanoket tribe, in Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac, an author of Native descent. This exceptional biography is perfect for thoughtful grade-schoolers. The overarching tone is both tender and realistic, as it introduces aspects of the history that are too often glossed over or misrepresented. This book will help ground your holiday celebration in a nuanced and respectful historical context.

The Table Where Rich People Sit by Bryd Baylor
A young girl learns from her family that being rich is not just about material wealth.

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon by Grace Lin
Expand your conversation from American history to a similar fall tradition: the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Grace Lin’s story is simple and wonderful to read aloud.  The Moon Festival is one of the most important holidays of the year, and though it usually falls in September, this book’s theme of thankfulness, togetherness, and harvest celebrations fits nicely with the other books on this list.

Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes
Explore gratitude through 16 beautiful poems sure to illuminate the power of saying thanks.

The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose
This classic picture book introduces children to some of the hundreds of groups that made their homes in America long before Columbus set sail. Learn more about the traditions and lives of a variety of native peoples across the continent.

Back to Read Together for more book lists...

Haven't found what you're looking for?
Visit our Complete Resource List.

Or check adopt your next big-hearted holiday tradition
with one of these projects.

Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

 

 

Picture Books that Nurture Emotional Awareness

An evolving list of picture books teaching emotional awareness and empathy, including books about anger, fear, anxiety, jealousy, resilliance, and more!

Explore strong emotions through story.

Research tells us that children who understand emotions are more likely to act kindly toward others. Encourage this by reading these amazing stories and completing the unique workbooks listed below.


Conversation Starters

  • Why is it helpful to recognize and talk about our feelings?

  • How can talking about feelings help us be more understanding of others?

  • Can you tell about a time when you’ve felt surprised, happy, angry, nervous, etc.?

  • Make a list of the emotions each family member experienced throughout the day, along with the events that accompanied them. Discuss what you have learned from your list.

  • How do you think you would feel if [a character's experience or a classmate's experience] happened to you?

  • What helps you calm down when you are experiencing strong emotions? Put together a "calm down box" by filling a shoe box with a few things that make you feel better (a special book, a small stuffed animal, your favorite figurine etc).

Featured Title

Small Things by Mel Tregonning
This powerful graphic picture book helps us all recognize and overcome the little everyday worries that can sap our energy and rob us of happiness. When a young boy is overcome by his inner demons, he beings to do poorly in school, lashes out at his family, and feels utterly alone. Discussion opportunities arise naturally throughout the story, especially as the boy discovers that people everywhere cope with various worries, and that help is never far away.


More DGT Favorites

Books about General Emotions

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr
These simple, colorful illustrations of basic emotions will have your child exploring nuanced feelings through mimicry.

Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book About Feelings by Ed Emberly
Let Ed Emberly's brightly illustrated monsters help your young child explore strong emotions. You'll enjoy the cut-out masks that allow your child to "try on" different emotions.

In My heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
This book is the perfect introduction to a the big feelings we all experience. It is beautiful, lively, and fun to read aloud again and again.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
This book describes the moods of our days in true Dr. Seuss fashion – silly, simple and imaginative.

Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods that Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
Like Dr. Seuss's My Many Colored Days, this story is as enjoyable to read as it is emotionally enlightening.

There Are No Animals in This Book (Only Feelings) by Chani Sanchez
Remarkable contemporary artwork is paired with charming, highly-re-readable language to create a one-of-a-kind gem of a book.

Understanding Myself: A Kid's Guide to Intense Emotions ad Strong Feelings by Mary C. Lamia
The stories, quizzes, and fact boxes in this book help older kids understand and develop coping skills for strong emotions.

You are Your Strong by Danielle Dufayet
This sweet, empowering book is perfect for starting a conversation about coping with strong emotions. We love the gentle way it helps children notice the skills adults use to address their emotional needs, and how it inspires kids to develop their own strategies to cope with everyday aggravations and disappointments.


Books about Anger

Crabby Pants by Julie Gassman
This hilarious story will have young readers laughing out loud even as they discover how shallow, fleeting, and silly crabbiness can be.

Curious George (assorted titles) by H. A. Ray
George's adventures inevitably lead to a bit of trouble. These classic stories provide the perfect opportunity to discuss why adults sometimes get angry - often because we worry about the safety of our children when they break important rules.

The Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist
Grumpy Goat has a difficult time making friends at the new farm. But his somehow, he learns to stop and smell the flowers.

Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox
Children and parents alike will recognize themselves is Mem Fox's classic story. The well-meaning but accident-prone child. The parent straining to be remain calm. The all-too-human boiling point. And the loving conclusion that provides an elegant reminder: even when family members are angry or embarrassed or sorry, we still love each other.

Sometimes I'm a Bombaloo by Rachel Vail
Let's be honest, tantrums sometimes happen. This book offers smart, funny insight into what happens when one child becomes – as she puts it – a bombaloo.

What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anger by Dawn Heubner
This creative workbook teaches children and their parents practical tools for managing, redirecting, and diffusing strong feelings of anger.


Books about Jealousy

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Have you ever longed for the latest trend? Have you ever been told they are too expensive. This story will help families discuss the difference between want and need. Plus this powerful story of friendship and family is sure to inspire compassion.

Percy and Tum Tum: A Tale of Two Dogs by Jen Hill
When the new dog moves to town, launches new trends, and enchants the neighborhood, Percy can't help but feel jealous. The colorful illustrations and clever humor are sure to make this story a family classic.

Red Cat, Blue Cat by Jenni Desmond
This vibrant, funny, simple story gently teaches the trouble caused by jealousy and the joys of self-acceptance and friendship.

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
The second story in this classic collection features Gertrude McFuzz, of Seussical the Musical fame. Gertrude desperately wants a glamorous tail, bigger even than La-La Lee Lou. Though she goes through great lengths to enhance her own tail, in the end she comes to appreciate her own.


Books about Fear & Anxiety

A Flicker of Hope by Julia Cook
This creative story from the best-selling author of My Mouth is a Volcano!, reminds children that dark clouds can be temporary and asking for help is always okay. We all have times when we need to borrow a little hope from someone else.

Lilly's Purple Purse by Keven Henkes
The clever author of Chrysanthemum and other childhood classics gives children a dose of calming perspective: "Today was a hard day. Tomorrow will be better."

Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett
Using humor, multi-media design, and grandiose language, this little book does an elegant job of encouraging young readers to face their fears through storytelling and journaling.

"The Old Woman Who Was Not Afraid." Grandmother Stories:  Wise Woman Stories from Around the World by Burleigh Muten
This story, tucked inside a beautiful anthology of "wise woman" fairy tales, gives children a mantra: "I will not be afraid. I will think of something." Though her tale is somewhat frightening, her bravery and self-reliance will inspire readers of every age.

The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm by LaVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo
This tale within a tale helps children - especially children who have experienced a traumatic storm or loss - cope with big fears. The rhyming verse and engaging illustrations draws readers right into rhinos world, where a storm has upended his home. The description of the Rhino's inner turmoil after "swallowing the storm" is recognizable to every child who has experienced fear and worry. In the end, focusing on the helpers and on hope helps the rhino release his storm.

Pilar’s Worries by Victoria Sanchez
Pilar loves to dance. But the prospect of upcoming tryouts fills her with fear. Thankfully, she’s learned some helpful coping strategies that help her stand up to her worries and put her ballet skills on full display.

The Scariest Thing of All by by Debi Gliori
Little Pip the rabbit keeps a list of the things he's afraid of, and that list is unbelievably long. When he gets lost in the woods, Pip must confront the scariest thing of all, and he finds an inner fierceness he never knew he had.

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Hueber.
Techniques, examples and activities to get kids thinking about how to handle their worrying.

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
The clever author of Chrysanthemum and other childhood classics brings his talent to the challenging issue of childhood anxiety over the first days of school.

Wilma Jean, Worry Machine by Juila Cook
This humorous book offers practical tools for helping children understand the source of anxiety and how to cope with it.


Books about Loneliness

An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant
Lonely Solomon wanders into "The Westway Cafe - Where All Your Dreams Come True" and finds himself sharing his wishes, along with his orders, with the waitress - Angel.

The Invisible Boy by Tracy Ludwig
This charming story will inspire every reader who has ever felt invisible (hint: that's everyone at some time or another!).

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Moving to a new city can be a lonely experience, but Lydia hasn't come alone. She's packed a suitcase full of garden seeds and enough grit to make the best of a tough transition.

The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
She names her car, her house, her big, comfy chair, but she will not name the shy, brown puppy that visits her front gate each day. This beautiful tale gives us insight into how lonely aging friends and family members might feel, and it just might inspire your family to reach out to a senior in your life.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
This story about a sweet country cottage consumed by the big city is surprisingly good at conveying loneliness and nostalgia. This is a heart-warming classic you won't want to miss.


Books about Resilience and Grit

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat
This charming story will captivate your whole family, even as it soothes anxieties and reminds us all that we have the ability to overcome whatever obstacles we face. This book is sure to be an award-winner this year!

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
This incredible, modern fable features a young hero named Liam who is just curious and adventurous enough to change the world.

Flight School  by Lita Judge
A young penguin believes he has "the soul of an eagle," but he's having trouble getting off the ground. His plucky perseverance, and a little help make his dreams a reality.

Growing up with a Bucket Full of Happiness: Three Rules for a Happier Life by Carol McCloud
From the brilliant author of Have You Filled a Bucket Today, this book takes the bucket-filling concept one step further. Did you know your bucket has a lid? And you can use your lid to protect yourself from bucket dippers, to preserve your reservoir of good thoughts and feelings, and to nurture your own resilience?

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Have you ever set out to make something magnificent? Have you ever had a vision, but wondered how to make it a reality? Have you ever been so frustrated by a project that - vision or no vision - you decided to quit right then and there? This charming book may help you look at your project from a whole new angle.

Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candice Flemming
An avid but imperfect inventor is in search of a great idea. Who could have guessed that a family fishing trip and his inquisitive daughter would give him just the inspiration he needs.

Back to Read Together for more book lists...

Haven't found what you're looking for?
Visit our Complete Resource List.

Or check out these projects and book lists to help raise your family's emotional awareness.

Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

Picture Books To Inspire Gratitude

A growing list of picture books to inspire gratitude.

Be mindful of your treasures with this growing collection.

Research shows that people who regularly express gratitude are happier and healthier than their counterparts, regardless of measurable wealth. Plus, regularly practicing gratitude shines a spotlight on the abundance of gifts in our lives, gifts we might otherwise overlook.

You may also want to browse our list of Chapter Books about Mindfulness and Gratitude.


Conversation Starters

  • Why is it so easy to forget the many things we are grateful for when we discover something new that we desperately want?

  • How can we remind ourselves to be satisfied with the good things already in our lives?

  • What if we woke up tomorrow and only had the things we expressed gratitude for today?

  • What is the difference between what you need and what you want?

  • Is it wrong to want something more when you have so much?

  • Is it hard to feel grateful when you’ve had a difficult day? What can we do to remind ourselves of gratitude even when we’re not feeling very happy or grateful?

  • What would you do with a money tree if one appeared on your doorstep?

Featured Title

The Biggest House in the World by Leo Lionni
The heartwarming story of a snail who dreams of having a bigger shell. When his father tells him about another snail that had the same dream, he begins to rethink his wish.


Additional DGT Favorites

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
This Caldecott Honor book is the perfect tool to help young readers see the beautify and gifts in everyday life. Follow a small group of family and friends through their day and discover the importance of all things great and small, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to the warmth of family connections, to the widest sunset sky.

An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton
This whimsical book for any age child or adult reminds us of all we have to be grateful for. Wonderful illustrations.

Grateful: A Song of Giving Things by Jon Bucchino
Including sheet music and a CD, this song-in-a-book invites readers to consider all they are thankful for in a peaceful, meditative way.

Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora
This poetic and joyful story introduces us to a young biracial boy as he celebrates the many reasons he feels thankful.

Members, visit our  Exclusive Downloads Collection  to print conversation cards for this story.

Members, visit our Exclusive Downloads Collection to print conversation cards for this story.

The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
Follow the greedy triangle to learn how wanting more and more and more can change your life in ways you might never expect. And reinforce those basic geometry skills along the way.

The Money Tree by Sarah Stewart
Miss McGillicuddy’s simple country routine continues throughout the year in spite of a very unusual tree growing in her yard.

No One But You by Douglas Wood
Take a close look at the astonishing, everyday wonders that make life beautiful. And consider how your own personal experiences, great and small, combine to make you absolutely unique.

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
A talented seamstress makes beautiful quilts for the poor and the homeless When the king who has everything decides he must have one of her creations, she tells him he must give away everything; then she will give him a quilt. In the process of shedding his many possessions, the king finds true happiness. No summary can do justice to the mesmerizing, fairy-tale quality of this beautiful tale.

The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood
In the soothing, inspirational style Douglas Wood is famous for, this book unlocks the secret of gratitude. Parents will look forward to spending time with this gentle book.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
“Want what you have” is the important lesson, brought to life by the magical, and somewhat alarming, adventures of Sylvester.

The Table Where Rich People Sit by Bryd Baylor
A young girl learns from her family that being rich is not just about material wealth.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
Especially great for your youngest readers, Todd Parr's bright and simple style gives kids a practical, and sometimes silly, way of talking about gratitude.

Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes
Explore gratitude through 16 beautiful poems sure to illuminate the power of saying thanks.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.
This book, about a boy who wants to fit in by owning a pair of trendy shoes, contains a powerful lesson about differentiating between wants and needs.

Too Much Noise by Ann McGovern
Gratitude versus “I want more” is simply a matter of perspective. This exceptionally simple story makes that clear. When the old man searching for silence is told to bring home a variety of barnyard animals, even the youngest child can see the folly in his quest

Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine
In this multicultural picture book, young Rosalinda sets out on a quest to heal her broken lemon tree and find the thief who hurt it. During her magical adventure, she learns the power of empathy, forgiveness, generosity, and gratitude.

Back to Read Together for more book lists...

Haven't found what you're looking for?
Visit our Complete Resource List.

Or check adopt your next big-hearted holiday tradition
with one of these projects.

Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.

 

 

Big-Hearted Story Collections that Inspire Compassion

Read and reflect as a family with these big-hearted literary collections.

Teach empathy and discover exceptional stories.

Literary compilations of stories and poems can be incredibly helpful. Keep one in the car for road trips or the unexpected traffic jam. Or toss one in your purse or diaper bag, to entertain weary little ones in the waiting room.

However you use them, your family will delight in the variety of the stories in these hand-picked collections.


Conversation Starters

  • How would you feel if you faced the situation in the story?

  • What would you do differently?

  • What does it mean to be wise? To have courage? To live generously?

  • How would we know if someone was having a bad day and may need a little extra kindness?

  • What are some safe and simple ways to share kindness with a stranger?

  • What acts of kindness have others shared with you recently? How did they make you feel?

  • Have you ever thought of doing a kind thing for a stranger, but decided not to out of nervousness? How could you overcome your shyness in the future?

Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for you to Read withYour Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire by Dharmachari Nagaraja
This book contains 20 modernized versions of ancient Buddhist stories. Most are full of whimsy and wonder, spurring on creative play, even as they teach about kindness, courage, and peace. Each story ends with a short restatement of the moral for reinforcement.

Children’s Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett
You may have read this classic as a child. Former secretary of education William Bennett shares stories, fables, and poem conveying virtues we all hope to share, including courage, compassion, and loyalty among many others. Some of the stories are very familiar (as in Aesop’s fables) others are quirky and new. One or two are somewhat dated, but on the whole, this is a wonderful book to read and discuss together.

Frederick and His Friends: Four Favorite Fables by Leo Lioni
Younger readers will love Frederick, the fieldmouse poet, and friends from the other tales, teaching friendship, courage, and speaking p.

I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children by Margaret Wright Edelman
This collection is exceptional with a wonderful combination of stories, poetry, and art. The works in this treasury do not simply teach and inspire. They are literary jewels, beautiful in and of themselves, making them a delight to sit down with your children to savor words so perfectly crafted.

James Herriot’s Treasury of Inspirational Stories for Children by James Herriot
The author of All Creatures Great and Small brings us eight heart-warming, occasionally heart-breaking tales. Little animal lovers will go nuts for these stories.  While morals and virtues are not so heavily emphasized in this collection,  the stories easily lend themselves to big-hearted discussions.

Kids' Random Acts of Kindness by Conari Press
This collection is sure to inspire your family’s next kindness activity. Nothing motivates kids – or adults – like a good example, which is exactly what these stories provide. While they may not be classic children’s literature, they will certainly spark the spirit of giving.

Tales of Wisdom and Wonder (with CD) by Hugh Lupton
The musical CD included with this collection makes it ideal for road trips or traffic jams, and it is sure to captivate your audience. This book features seven stories from a variety of cultures. They are expertly crafted, and perfect for reading aloud repeatedly to young children. As the title declares, there is a bit of wisdom in each tale to get a conversation started.

Haven't found what you're looking for?
Visit our Complete Resource List.

Or check out these projects to inspire your next act of kindness.


Disclaimer:  Doing Good Together™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.