Must-Read Books that Teach Gratitude to Kids

Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Michele Tripple

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This Thanksgiving, start a new tradition by reading gratitude books with your children. Here are the top 16 books that teach gratitude to your kids.

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Must-Read Books that Teach Gratitude to Kids

“It’s the books that you read when you’re young that live with you forever.”- J.K. Rowling

Stories are powerful tools that can have lasting impacts on the minds of young children. From books and stories, children can learn what is right or wrong, how to be kind, how to give, how to love, and how to be imaginative and creative. Children can learn just about anything by picking up a book!

This Thanksgiving, take time to read to your children about gratitude. Make it your newest Thanksgiving tradition. Then, watch as your children become more aware of the multitude of blessings they have!

Here are some highly-rated Must-read books that teach about gratitude to kids.


Be Grateful Little Bear

Written by Kara Evelyn-McNeil, Illustrated by Max Scratchmann

This is a wonderful book about a bear who wishes to be a bird. Along the way, he learns that there are many wonderful things about being a bear. Join bear on his journey to discover that he is grateful for who he is, and what he has!

Teach your child to be grateful for who they are and the opportunities they have been given.


Before I Sleep I Say Thank You

Written by Carol Gordon Ekster, Illustrated by Mary Rojas

Witness the nighttime routine of a little boy and his mother. Before the boy goes to sleep, his mother encourages him to think about his day and express gratitude for the blessings he receives.

This is a great way to end the day with your child; reflecting on the things they are most grateful for.


Written by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Archie Preston

This book is perfect to read to toddlers and younger children. It is engaging with great illustrations and catchy rhymes. Thankful teaches about expressing gratitude for small and simple blessings, such as bright and silly costumes, plates licked clean, and green sprouts in a garden.

The Blessings Jar: A Story About Being Thankful

Written by Colleen Coble, Illustrated by Rebecca Harry

When the main character Punky Grace wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, her Grandmother encourages her to go on an adventure. The adventure? Filling up her blessings jar! Throughout the adventure, Punky realizes that her blessings far outweigh any misfortune she has.

This is an excellent story for grandparents to read with their grandchildren.

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts

Written by Lisa Tawn Bergren, Illustrated by David Hohn

Lil Pup is an adventurous wolf that loves playing with his friends. Sadly, most of his friends are about to hibernate for the winter.  He is upset they are leaving. This book details the interactions between Lil Pup and his mother, as she teaches him that he can be grateful for the blessings that he has.

Mama says, “the trick to having a thankful heart is thinking about the things that make us happy, rather than the things that don’t.

Thanks for Thanksgiving

Written by Julie Markes, Illustrated by Doris Barrette

During Thanksgiving, there are so many things to be thankful for! This beautifully illustrated book will teach your toddler or young child about the importance of blessings, especially family. After all, the best part about blessings is being able to share them with family.

Bonus! This book even has a special page just for kids to write in their own notes of gratitude, year after year. This book is sure to become a special treasure.

Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks!

Written by Margaret Sutherland, Illustrated by Sonja Lamut

This book teaches about everything that Thanksgiving is about- food, fun, and family! But most importantly, this book teaches children that Thanksgiving is about being grateful for blessings. Written from a child’s perspective, it details several things children have to be thankful for: parents who love them, hugs from Grandma and Grandpa, and so much more.

Being Thankful

Written and Illustrated by Mercer Mayer

When Little Critter begins to compare his life to other kids around him, he becomes upset. How come he is stuck with the ice cream cone and his friend has the sundae? This book teaches an important principle- we cannot compare our blessings to the blessings of anyone else.

In the end, Little Critter’s Grandma takes him on a trip to the farm and teaches him the importance of gratitude. Gratitude makes every situation brighter, and helps us to be content with what we have.

The Thankful Book

Written and Illustrated by Todd Parr

This book has vibrant and inviting illustrations, perfect for toddlers and young children. Each page teaches about different things children can be grateful for: bubble baths, kisses, shadows, feet, hair, and many more!

The Thankful Book encourages children to think about things they are grateful for each day.

It Could Always Be Worse

Written and Illustrated by Margot Zemach

The premise of this book is that things could always be worse, even if we are feeling that life is unfair. Read the story of an unfortunate man who lived in a crowded house and was always arguing with his family. One day, he sought guidance from a Rabbi. Things went from bad to worse, and eventually, the man realized his life wasn’t so bad to begin with.

This is a wonderful book to teach your children to be grateful in any circumstances. There are people in the world who have it much worse than we do, and it is important to be thankful for everything we do have.

Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks

Written by John Bucchino, Illustrated by Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen

This book is truly unique- it is accompanied by song. Grateful comes with a CD to listen to while reading the book, enhancing the experience of the reader greatly.

Join a young girl on her journey of thankfulness, accompanied by uplifting music. Each evening, the girl falls asleep counting her blessings, rather than sheep. She finds many things to be grateful for that we often take for granted. This truly is a delightful story that your children are sure to love!

Bear Says Thanks

Written by Karma Wilson, Illustrated by Jane Chapman

Your children will adore reading about Bear and his friends! This story tells how Bear wanted to throw a big dinner party, but didn’t have any food in his cupboards. As Bear’s friends come over, they each give Bear an edible gift. Bear cannot contain his gratitude, thanking them all.

Help your children learn to say “thank you”, and how to share with their friends in need.

An Awesome Book of Thanks!

Written and Illustrated by Dallas Clayton

This book is full of mythical creatures and fantastical illustrations your children are sure to love! An Awesome Book of Thanks takes children on a journey of discovery and gratitude. Each page is full of life and emphasizes the importance of saying thanks. Teach your children to actively seek for things to be grateful for in the world around them.

Let’s Be Thankful

Written and Illustrated by P.K. Hallinan

A simple, but powerful book that teaches a child to recognize the things that make them happy. There are so many things to be grateful for: the people around us, animals, and different activities that children love.

This book is perfect for teaching your child about being thankful for big and small things.

I’m Thankful Each Day!

Written and Illustrated by P.K. Hallinan

This is another great book that teaches gratitude by P.K. Hallinan. Like Let’s Be Thankful, this book details a myriad of things for a little child to be thankful for. Raindrops, sunsets, flowers, and more! Your children will love the rhythm and rhyme of P.K. Hallinan’s books. Plus, his illustrations are reminiscent of childhood- full of fun and color.

The Giving Tree

Written and Illustrated by Shel Silverstein

Of course, this list of books that teach gratitude would not be complete without the classic book, The Giving Tree. I firmly believe that every home should have a copy of this inspirational book.

A young boy befriends a tree. Throughout the years, the tree does everything in its power to make the boy happy. At one point, the boy grows up and leaves the tree behind. In the end, the boy returns, now an old man, and the tree happily helps the boy one final time.

Although this book does not directly teach gratitude, it leaves plenty of room for interpretation and discussion. One important thing to notice is that the boy never expresses gratitude to the tree. Could this be the reason the boy was never content with what he had? Discuss with your children how things could have gone differently. What would have happened had the child expressed gratitude? Might the tree have been spared losing her branches? Might the boy have had a better life?

This is an excellent book for you to read with your older children and have a candid discussion about the power of gratitude and the importance of showing our appreciation.

What are some other “must-read” books that teach gratitude?


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