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10 of the Best Picture Books to Inspire Gratitude

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Designed to be read aloud, picture books are a wonderful way to connect with children. Today’s post features a ten of our favorite picture books about gratitude.

The Joy of Seasonal Picture Books

One of my biggest parenting pleasures is, and always has been, finding great books to share with my sons.

I love researching picture books almost as much as I love reading them!

As each year unfolds, we love rotating through different picture books, finding the ones that celebrate what’s special about a particular holiday, month, or season.

Read more: 10 of the Best Picture Books to Inspire Gratitude

I’m also an aspiring picture book author, which means I’ve read a ton of picture books to analyze story structure, rhyme and rhythm, refrains, language devices, etc.

I’m telling you this just so you know I’m selective and thoughtful with my recommendations!

The Best Picture Books About Gratitude

1. The Thank You Book

by Mary Lyn Ray; illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

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What makes this picture book so great is the author’s description of gratitude. It’s touching and spot-on, and expressed with simple elegance — see the preview passage below.

Don’t let the cartoon animals on the cover deceive you – though this book certainly has fun, light moments, it’s also deep and moving.

Preview passage: “Thank you isn’t just for learning manners. It’s also when something wakes a little hum—a happy little hum—inside you and you want to answer back.”

2. Thankful

by Elaine Vickers; illustrated by Samantha Cotterill

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Narrated by a young girl, this sweet story tells about one family’s tradition of making thankfulness chains.

The girl can’t wait to get started on her chain and writes down all the things she’s thankful for until she’s too sleepy to continue.

Her voice is both authentically child-like and poetic. A beautiful ode to the big and little things to be grateful for.

Preview Passage: “I am thankful for all those things: love and dreams, night and morning. For a moon and a sun that always come back.” 

3. Before We Eat: From Farm to Table

by Pat Brisson; illustrated by Mary Azarian

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As a family sits down to eat, they offer a grateful reflection on all the workers who helped get the food to their table.

Written in simple rhyming couplets with appeal for kids of all ages, this book would be a great one to keep right by the dinner table and read before your family digs in to dinner.

Preview line: “As we sit around this table, let’s give thanks as we are able / to all the folks we’ll never meet who help provide this food we eat.”

4. Thank You, Omu!

by Oge Mora

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One afternoon, Omu stirs up a “thick red stew in a big fat pot for a nice evening meal.” As the stew’s delicious scent wafts through the building and the neighborhood, person after person comes to her door.

Though Omu is happy to share her stew, she’s eventually left with none. But her kindness is repaid in full…and then some. 

Oge Mora is masterful at story structure, telling this touching tale through satisfying refrains and rhythmic prose.

To top it off, her bright illustrations, made from cut paper, will have you poring over the details. A great book to add to your collection.

Preview Passage: “Omu thought for a moment. She was saving her stew for dinner, but she had made quite a bit. It would not hurt to share. ‘Would you like some?’”

5. Sincerely, Emerson: A Girl, Her Letters, and all the Helpers Around Us

By Emerson Weber; illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett

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Emerson loves to write letters and writes many to friends and family.

One day, it occurs to her that she should thank Doug, the mail carrier who makes it possible for all her letters to reach their intended recipients.

That letter creates a wonderful ripple effect when Doug shares it with other mail carriers.

Written by Emerson herself, this book is inspiring and thought-provoking – what would the world look like if we all embodied this little girl’s attitude of gratitude?

Preview passage: “With dozens of new pen pals, Em did what she was best at doing: she wrote letters. […] And Emerson got to thinking. […] every bus ride, every tomato. Every bag of trash, every bag of groceries. They were possible because someone cared.”

6. We are Grateful: Otsaligheliga

by Traci Sorell; illustrated by France Lessac

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“Otsaligheliga” means “thank you” in Cherokee.

This beautiful book takes the reader on a trip through Cherokee culture as different rituals unfold in each season. There are Cherokee words, including how to pronounce them, throughout the book.

In addition, back matter provides definitions of specific cultural elements and further information about the Cherokee language.

This is certainly one of the best picture books about gratitude published in recent years, and it’s not surprising it has won numerous awards.

Preview passage: “As bears sleep deep and snow blankets the ground, we say otsaliheliga…while elders share stories and we savor buttery bean bread and steamy hominy soup. […] …as men cuddle babies and sing traditional lullabies in Tsalagi, Cherokee.”

7. Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet

by April Pulley Sayre

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April Pulley Sayre’s books never fail to make me want to get out in nature, explore, and gaze in wonder at the beauty all around.

With simple yet elegant rhyming text accompanied by the author’s gorgeous photos, this book is an ode to our magnificent planet. 

Preview passage: “Thank you for curves and prickles and parallels. For patterns—all shapes that repeat. Thank you for stems and leaves and buds, for plant parts we can eat.”

8. Give Thanks: You Can Reach Out and Spread Joy! 50 Gratitude Activities and Games

by Naomi Shulman; illustrated by Hsinping Pan

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Looking for fun, concrete ideas to help your kids express gratitude?

From sidewalk chalk messages to counting good things visible out the window, this nonfiction book is filled with wonderful ideas to put thankfulness into action.

Preview: “Learn to say thank you in different languages. Make everybody feel good!” (Includes how to say “thank you” in Spanish, Hebrew, Mandarin, French, Japanese, Arabic, Swahili, and American Sign Language. It would be fun to look up with your kids how to say thanks in other languages as well!)

9. Bear Says Thanks

by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Jane Chapman

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Another book in the popular series that started with Bear Snores On (add this book to your collection if you don’t have it!), this story centers on Bear’s desire to throw a feast for his friends.

But with bare cupboards, how can he?

As friends show up with delicious food to share, Bear starts to panic he has nothing to contribute…until they remind him he only needs to show up as himself.

Cute story in the same rhythmic text as the original.

Preview passage: “Then they hear, ‘Hi ho!’ and they both see Hare / with a big batch of muffins at the door of the lair!”

10. Where Happiness Lives

by Barry Timms; illustrated by Greg Abbott

Buy on Amazon

Gray Mouse is happy in the sweet little home he shares with his family…that is, until he spots a bigger, fancier house when he’s out on his walk one day.

The mouse owner of that house in turn covets the bigger, fancier house on the hill. But where does true happiness live?

With liftable flaps and sweet rhyming text, this little book carries an important message of being grateful for what you have.

My boys love to talk about mansions and dream houses, so this book really struck a chord with me.    

Preview passage: “It has just enough room for each mouse to have fun / and plenty of windows that let in the sun.”

Other Gratitude Activities

I hope you’ll find some stories you’ll treasure in this list of the best picture books about gratitude. Did I miss any of your family’s favorite books? Let me know in the comments section!

Check out other gratitude activities on SMP and around the web:

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