Give Thanks with Books About Gratitude

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.

 

 

Picture Books

“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.

 

“Thank You, Neighbor!” by Ruth Chan
“Thank You, Neighbor!” by Ruth Chan

 

“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 Give Thanks” by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
“We Give Thanks” by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

 

“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.

 

“We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga” by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac
“We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga” by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac

 

Early Elementary

 

“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.

 

“I Am Thankful” by Suzy Capozzi, illustrated by Eren Unten
“I Am Thankful” by Suzy Capozzi, illustrated by Eren Unten

 

“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.

 

“Volunteering (Spreading Kindness)” by Brienna Rossiter
“Volunteering (Spreading Kindness)”
by Brienna Rossiter

 

“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.

 

“The Thank You Book” (An Elephant and Piggie Book, 25) written and illustrated by Mo Willems
“The Thank You Book” (An Elephant and Piggie Book, 25)
written and illustrated by Mo Willems

 

Middle Grade

 

“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.

 

“Nancy Drew Clue Book: Turkey Trot Plot” by Carolyn Keene, illustrated by Peter Francis
“Nancy Drew Clue Book: Turkey Trot Plot” by Carolyn Keene, illustrated by Peter Francis

 

“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.

 

“If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving” by Chris Newell, illustrated by Winona Nelson
“If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving” by Chris Newell, illustrated by Winona Nelson

 

“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.

 

“A Smart Girl’s Guide: Making a Difference: Using Your Talents and Passions to Change the World” by Melissa Seymour, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
“A Smart Girl’s Guide: Making a Difference: Using Your Talents and Passions to Change the World” by Melissa Seymour, illustrated by Stevie Lewis

 

Teens

 

“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.

 

“It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going” by Chelsea Clinton
“It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going” by Chelsea Clinton

 

“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.

 

“Dear Haiti, Love Alaine” by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
“Dear Haiti, Love Alaine” by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

 

“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.

 

“Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters” by Laurie Ann Thompson
“Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters” by Laurie Ann Thompson

 

 

About Jennifer Rothschild

Jennifer Rothschild is the collection engagement librarian at Arlington Public Library.

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