Start off the holiday season on a grateful note with these books about giving thanks and giving back. Discover stories that point out everyone we can thank in our lives and explore the nuances behind the history of the first Thanksgiving.
“Thank You, Neighbor!”
by Ruth Chan
A young girl walking her dog reminds readers to not only feel grateful for all people in their lives but to also tell them “thank you” as well. As the girl and dog stroll through the neighborhood, she notices all the people that make her community stick together, from the firefighters rescuing a kitten and the sanitation workers collecting garbage to the letter carrier delivering the mail. She says “thank you” to all of them, reminding us that this simple phrase can help make people feel part of their community.
“We Give Thanks”
by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
A frog and rabbit explore their town to issue a special invitation to everyone they come across. On each step of their
travels, they also find something to be thankful for. At the end of the day, everyone gathers for a giant feast. Told in rhyming couplets with watercolor illustrations, this story offers a gentle reminder to be thankful for many of the things we often take for granted.
“We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga”
by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac
Members of Cherokee Nation say “otsaliheliga” (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) to express gratitude, something the family in this book does frequently as they go through a year of Cherokee festivals, holidays and celebrations. Sorell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, includes several other Cherokee words and cultural symbols in the text. More information is included in the book.
“I Am Thankful”
by Suzy Capozzi, illustrated by Eren Unten
On Thanksgiving, a young boy spends his day listing the things he’s thankful for. A busy day of helping in the kitchen, running a turkey trot, playing football and eating lead to many things to be grateful for. Some things are small, like having the day off school, and some things are bigger, like being thankful that his firefighter father and his co-workers work to keep the town safe, even if it means he has to miss the family feast.
“Volunteering (Spreading Kindness)”
by Brienna Rossiter
Vibrant photographs and clear, simple text introduce different ways beginning readers can help their communities, such as cleaning up litter or distributing food. This empowering text shows younger kids concrete ways they can give back, despite their age.
“The Thank You Book” (An Elephant and Piggie Book, 25)
written and illustrated by Mo Willems
In Elephant and Piggie’s final adventure, Piggie tries to thank everyone she can, but Gerald is worried she’ll forget to thank the most important person of all. Piggie embarks on her “Thank-a-Rama” anyway, and with Gerald’s help, she makes sure everyone is recognized.
“Nancy Drew Clue Book: Turkey Trot Plot”
by Carolyn Keene, illustrated by Peter Francis
The Nancy Drew Clue Books feature Nancy, Bess and George as elementary school students, investigating mysteries in a format that invites readers to help solve the case. For this year’s turkey trot race, the friends hope to win the costume contest and get the chocolate turkey prize. But when the turkey goes missing, the owner of the fancy new chocolate shop bans kids from her store forever, unless Nancy and her friends can find the real thief.
“If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving”
by Chris Newell, illustrated by Winona Nelson
In this accessible book written by a member of the Passamaquoddy tribe, the facts and myths surrounding relations between the Wampanoag and English colonists and the story of the first Thanksgiving are thoroughly explored and examined. While focusing on life in and around the Plimoth colony, the story also covers the creation of the national Thanksgiving holiday and similar celebrations in other cultures.
“A Smart Girl’s Guide: Making a Difference: Using Your Talents and Passions to Change the World” by Melissa Seymour, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Full of lists, quizzes, tips and inspiration, this book is a complete guide to finding what readers are interested in and how they can use their talents to make a difference in their communities and the wider world. By breaking down the steps and providing plenty of guidance along the way, middle-grade students can turn the otherwise daunting task of “changing the world” into realistic and doable actions.
“It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going”
by Chelsea Clinton
Chelsea Clinton dives into several issues facing the world today, including poverty, global warming and gender equity. After a data-filled introduction to an issue, she shows how young people are currently working to alleviate the problems and has several ideas for ways teen readers can also get involved in the solutions.
“Dear Haiti, Love Alaine”
by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
After a school presentation gone wrong ends up with Alaine getting suspended, she’s shipped off to Haiti—a land she knows from her parents’ stories but has never explored herself. While there, she spends her days volunteering for her aunt’s charity, which helps children in economic need in stark juxtaposition with the estate Alaine’s family lives on. Along the way, she gains a deeper knowledge and appreciation for Haiti and learns more than she imagined about her family’s past.
“Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters”
by Laurie Ann Thompson
Thompson uses her experience in nonprofit work to create a practical guide for teens who want to give back to their communities. In addition to inspiration and tips for helping readers find what they want to do, Thompson outlines items like business plans, fundraising and legal issues they may need to know. Discover this guide that inspires readers while not shying away from the small details.