Teach kids what it means to be generous and grateful through stories. Here are 12 children’s books to teach kids generosity and gratitude.
Telling kids to let their sibling play with a prized toy or having that same child say “thank you” to grandma only scratches the surface of generosity and gratitude.
So how can parents teach kids these important values?
Ideally, we’d place our kids in real-world scenarios where they’d be forced to learn the importance of giving to others and being thankful.
But since that’s not always possible, the next best way to nurture these qualities is through stories.
The following is a list of books that provide kids with lessons in generosity and gratitude. In some cases, the books demonstrate outright gratitude while others weave the concept of giving throughout the story.
No matter how they get their message across, these books will likely be ones your kids will remember. So cuddle up and share with your kids what it means to be generous and thankful.
The Best Books to Teach Kids Generosity and Gratitude
In a sing-song tone, “Thankful” takes the reader through a slightly silly tale what people are thankful for. The gardener is thankful for every green sprout, the artist is thankful for color and light, the chef is thankful for plates licked clean. Kids will love the illustrations that add to this simple story of thanks.
Brother and sister bear have ten dollars each to buy Christmas gifts for each other. While each bear picks out gifts for the other, they’re both focused on having money left over for themselves. It’s not until brother and sister participate in a Christmas story production that they realize the real joy in giving. Instead of spending their extra money on themselves, they donate it to the needy.
An exceptionally talented quilt maker decides that despite many offers to purchase her quilts she will instead give them to the poor. Meanwhile, the king, who is used to receiving many gifts throughout the year hears of the quilt maker and decides he must have one of her sought-after quilts. But the quilt maker refused to sell a quilt to the king and instead tells him that she will make him a quilt if he gives away everything he owns. With each gift he gives, the quilt maker would sew in another piece of his quilt. Instead of accepting, the king punishes the quilt maker but again and again she is able to escape harm. Finally, the king agrees to give away his things so he can get a quilt and discovers that giving is far better than receiving.
“Giving Thanks” illustrates what the Mohawk tribe refers to as the “Thanksgiving Address”, a morning habit of starting each day by giving thanks to Mother Earth. This tradition is based on the belief that the natural world is a rare gift to be cherished. Readers hear thanks for blue waters, green grasses, the animals, sun, thunder, and other natural wonders.
How many times have you said to your kids: “It’s better to give than to receive.” only to be met with blank stares? Giving to others and being generous can sometimes be a challenging concept for kids. Ellen Sabin’s The Giving Book, aims to nurture a better understanding of giving with stories and fables of people who were generous, lists of how kids can support charities, and worksheets to get kids thinking about thankfulness, generosity, and charity. Think of this as more of a workbook than a story book.
Think of this book as a little kids’ introduction to showing gratitude. Each page highlights something kids can be grateful for such as “colors because they make me want to paint” or “hugs because they make me feel good”. The Thankful book will likely jumpstart more conversations of gratitude.
Mo Willems delights us with another silly story – this time about Elephant’s angst whether or not to share an ice cream cone with his friend Piggie. Maybe Piggie doesn’t like this flavor? Piggie doesn’t even know Elephant has ice cream, so sharing isn’t necessary – right? As Elephant goes back and forth in his mind about whether or not to share his ice cream, kids can relate to being confronted with the same thoughts. In the end, Elephant ponders this question too long only to find his ice cream melted. But fortunately, Piggie has an ice cream cone to share with him.
Through sixteen poems the reader of “Thanks a Million” is reminded of how powerful the simple words “thank you” can be. The poems range in form of haiku to a rebus to a riddle. Stories range from families, neighbors, teachers, the deaf, homeless and more.
Even from a young age two sisters, Rosa and Blanca, have been generous with one another. When they’re older and living in separate houses, they each begin a garden only to find they have too much corn, tomatoes, and chiles. The sister’s generosity gets out of hand when both secretly leave the other part of their bounty in the middle of the night. But each is confused in the morning that their bounty hasn’t depleted. This bi-lingual book shows the story in both English and Spanish.
A native American father and his son go on a hike and along the way give thanks for the nature surrounding them.
One night Rosalinda is awakened only to find a man taking all the lemons off of her tree. As she struggles to get over her anger at this man and heal her broken tree, Rosalinda learns what it means to be truly generous and forgive.
In this board book, a boy thinks about his life and all that he is grateful for: the seasons, family, peace & harmony, and finally for each day. A great introduction to gratitude for little kids.