Like a lot of people, I’m having a hard time getting used to the idea that Thanksgiving is going to be different this year, and I wasn’t sure I could write a column focused on books about being thankful when I wasn’t really feeling that way myself. Then I started reading picture books that focus on being thankful for the simple things in life and found these books written for children lifting my spirit with their messages about all the things we have to be thankful for.
Counting Our Blessings by Emma Dodd
A big dog and a little pup count all the things they have to be thankful for, including the warm sunshine, being able to play, and feeling the joy of being alive. At the end of the day, they enjoy the feeling of being together and look forward to counting more blessings in the days to come.
Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving edited by Katherine Paterson
Gathered from around the world, Paterson’s collection inspires the reader to approach life with gratitude. Giving Thanks is organized into four sections, each with a theme (“Gather Around the Table,” “A Celebration of Life,” “The Spirit Within,” “Circle of Community”) and an introduction by Paterson that includes anecdotes from her life to help set the tone for that section. The short poems, prayers, and songs are meditative, joyful, and accessible to readers of all ages.
Look and Be Grateful by Tomie DePaola
The uncomplicated and spare message of this book urges readers to open their eyes and look to find the simple joys in life and to be grateful for the gift of today and everything it brings.
Peppa Pig and the Day of Giving Thanks
While Peppa goes for a walk with her family, she finds many things to be thankful for: the blue sky, trees, apples, ducks, and spiders. As Peppa and her brother George play in the fall leaves, it begins to rain, and she is not thankful for that. Her family huddles under the trees for protection until the rain stops. The rain has driven all the animals to find their own shelters, and Peppa is disappointed that she can’t see any birds or insects anymore. But when she discovers a mud puddle created by the rain, she changes her mind and is also thankful for the rain.
The Thank You Book by Mary Lyn Ray
Ray’s book reminds readers that “Thank you isn’t just for learning manners;” it is also for all the things that make you happy, like the sun, grass between your toes, and swings and slides. The illustrations reflect even more things to be thankful for: being thankful for “zippers that zip jackets” shows a friend helping another to zip their coat; being thankful for books shows an older child reading to a younger child.
Thanks From the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar describes all the things it is thankful for being taught: how “to be kind to every creature, to care for the trees and sky and oceans.” As the caterpillar moves from page to page through Carle’s signature illustrations, readers will recognize some favorite animals from other beloved Carle books.
We Are Thankful by Margaret McNamara
For a class assignment, Reza needs to come up with a list of things he is most thankful for. This is pretty easy; he is thankful for “his mama, his papa, his brothers, his dog, snow, his bike, and pumpkin pie.” Excited to share his list, Reza returns to school but starts to get worried when his classmates have the same ideas he does. By the time it’s Reza’s turn to share, all of his ideas have already been given, and he needs to think of something quickly.
What I Like Most by Mary Murphy
A young girl reflects on what she likes most in the world, starting with the view out her window. She likes seeing the mailman, a blackbird in a tree, and the drawings she can make in the fog on the window glass. Each turn of the page brings something she likes even more: “This window is what I like most in the world. Except for apricot jam.” The exploration of things she likes progresses, with a description of why she enjoys each simple pleasure.
Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.