Spread the Love: Great Books to Cultivate Gratitude for Children of All Ages

Research from the Greater Good Science Center tells us that gratitude actually blocks toxic emotions even as it allows us to celebrate the present. Additionally, its been proven that grateful people are more stress-resistant and have a higher sense of self-worth. How can we help kids be happy with what they already have and cultivate an attitude of gratitude?

In a 2003 study from the University of California, Davis, grateful people reported higher levels of happiness and optimism, as well as lower levels of depression and stress. High school students who score high on gratitude have more friends and higher grades, while more materialistic students report more envy, lower grades and less life satisfaction, according to a study in the Journal of Happiness Studies. While some people may be blessed with a natural inclination toward thankfulness, for most of us gratitude is learned. By learning gratitude, children become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing their innate capacities for empathy and altruism.

The following is a list of books that provide kids with lessons in generosity and gratitude. In some cases, the books demonstrate outright gratitude while others weave the concept of giving throughout the story. Let us know how you weave these great titles into your work!

Click here for some great tips on how to integrate books into your kids yoga classes.

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli
(Ages 4-8)
In a sing-song tone, “Thankful” takes the reader through a slightly silly tale what people are thankful for. The gardener is thankful for every green sprout, the artist is thankful for color and light, the chef is thankful for plates licked clean. Kids will love the illustrations that add to this simple story of thanks.
Giving Thanks: a Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp
(Ages 5-11)
“Giving Thanks” illustrates what the Mohawk tribe refers to as the “Thanksgiving Address,” a morning habit of starting each day by giving thanks to Mother Earth. This tradition is based on the belief that the natural world is a rare gift to be cherished. Readers give thanks for blue waters, green grasses, the animals, sun, thunder, and other natural wonders.
The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving by Ellen Sabin
(Ages 4-8)
How many times have you said to your kids: “It’s better to give than to receive.” only to be met with blank stares? Giving to others and being generous can sometimes be a challenging concept for kids. Ellen Sabin’s The Giving Book, aims to nurture a better understanding of giving with stories and fables of people who were generous, lists of how kids can support charities, and worksheets to get kids thinking about thankfulness, generosity, and charity. Think of this as more of a workbook than a story book.
Beautiful Hands by Bret Baumgarten and Kathryn Otoshi
(Ages 2 and up)
Little hands can do so many beautiful things. This colorful concept book reveals an illustrative surprise and reading delight with every turn of the page. Little hands can do so many wonderful things: plant ideas; stretch imaginations; and reach for dreams. Parents and educators will enjoy sharing the word play with young readers. Children will revel in the spectacular art created using thumb- and hand-prints. The book’s uplifting message will rouse and motivate, leaving no heart untouched.This book was created to inspire children everywhere to use their power to help themselves and others achieve their dreams!
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
(Ages 8-12)
In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. Minli sets off on a quest to find out how she can change her poor family’s fortune and discovers much about what brings happiness in life. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

The Grateful Giraffe: A Kids Yoga Feelings Book by Giselle Shardlow
(Ages 2-5)
Join six yoga kids from around the world as they learn about various animals and relate their behaviors to our feelings. Be a caring koala, a cranky crocodile, or a curious cat. Visit countries around the world, learn about various animals, and talk about feelings! This feelings yoga book for toddlers and preschoolers includes a list of kids yoga poses and a parent-teacher guide.
Today I am Grateful: Adventures in Gratitude by Lorraine Miller
(Ages 5-10)
Today I Am Grateful was created to inspire children of all ages to experience the incredible power of gratitude. By taking the time to think about all the wonderful things that happen each day, children gain an appreciation for what matters most to them in their own lives. Following the lead of Milo, young readers can take part in this mindful practice using the activities provided at the end of the story.
There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me by Alice Walker (Author), Stefano Vitale (Illustrator)
(Ages 4-10)
A beautiful book that makes you stop and realize that there are so many things happening around us that we typically don’t notice. Through this book’s simple text we learn that there is beauty all around us to recognize, connect with, and feel grateful for.
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss
(Ages 5-9)

This classic book provides the perfect antidote for readers of all ages who are feeling a bit down in the dumps (or having a hard time being thankful for what they have). Thanks to Dr. Seuss’s trademark rhymes and signature illustrations, readers will, without a doubt, realize just how lucky they truly are.
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness with Kids by Carol McCloud
(Ages 4-9)
This heartwarming book encourages positive behavior by using the concept of an invisible bucket to show children how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation and love by “filling buckets.”
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts (Author), Noah Z. Jones (Illustrator)
(Ages 5-8)
All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.

Mayuri Gonzalez (E-RYT, RCYT)  has been practicing yoga and meditation for over 25 years since her own childhood and specializes in bringing yoga and mindfulness to children. She has taught for Little Flower Yoga since 2010 and is currently the Director of The School Yoga Project, a program of LFY offering direct service yoga and mindfulness classes for preschools and K-12 schools in the Greater New York Area, staff development workshops, staff yoga, and tools for schools nationwide.

For more information about Little Flower Yoga and The School Yoga Project, visit www.littlefloweryoga.com. Contact Mayuri by email at mayuri@littlefloweryoga.com

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. If you are interested in purchasing any of the resources mentioned above, you can help support free programs like Mindful Mondays by navigating to them through the included links. Thank you for your support!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.