Mr. Dolphin and I want to raise our children so they have a servant’s heart (more on that in a separate post) and try to encourage the spirit of giving and gratitude. Lion loves picture books, so often a helpful way for us to teach him is through books and talking about them afterward. There are so many wonderful books out there about sharing, the joy of giving, thinking of others in need. Here are twelve great picture books covering giving and gratitude:
Quiltmaker’s Gift – This is one of my favorites on this list, though it is a bit longer, so the success of this book will depend on the attention span of your child. This is a wonderful story about a quiltmaker who only makes quilts for the homeless and poor, but they are so beautiful, a king desperately wants it. The quiltmaker tells the king that she will only make it if he gives away all of his belongings, promising to sew a piece of quilt into place for every belonging he gives. The king slowly learns about the joy of giving.
Mitten Tree – I think this is a really cute book about a woman who observes that one boy doesn’t have mittens, unlike the rest of his classmates. She knits him a pair of mittens and hangs them on a tree for him to find, and it then becomes a game where the woman knits a pair a night and hangs them for the children to find. What I love about this book is that it teaches to give for the joy of giving, without expecting anything in return.
Berenstain Bears Think of Those In Need – Lion likes Berenstain Bears books and it can be nice to read books where he is familiar with (and excited by) the characters. I like this one because when we decluttered our home, we realized just how much stuff the kids had, despite being on the earth for such a short time (I blame the seven grandparents). I want the kids to realize how much they have, and how important it is to share with those who are less fortunate.
The Giving Tree – Who doesn’t love this classic book by Shel Silverstein? This book is the perfect embodiment of giving generously and without expectation of any reward, something we want to instill in our children. The tree gives and gives and gives. I love that every time the tree gives freely to the boy, the line “And the tree was happy . . .” is repeated. The Giving Tree definitely has a servant’s heart.
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? –While Dr. Seuss is not my favorite (I am particularly not fond of the illustrations), Lion loves Dr. Seuss books. What I do like about this one is that it teaches children to be grateful for what they have, even if they’re having a rough day.
Stone Soup – Another classic! I remember reading this book in Kindergarten and eating “stone soup” where every person in the class was assigned to bring in something (I got to bring in one of the stones!). The book teaches the power of shared giving and how when everyone gives just a little, the power can be transformative.
How to Heal a Broken Wing – What I love about this sweet book is that the other books about giving on this list are mainly about giving things rather than giving of one’s time or service. A young boy notices an injured bird, ignored by all the others passing by, but wants to take it home to try to heal it.
It Could Always Be Worse – Like the Dr. Seuss book, this Yiddish folktale teaches the importance of being thankful for what you have because, well, it could always be worse. I find this book to be hilarious.
Mine-O-Saur – I haven’t read this one and it’s not available at our library, but it comes highly recommended. The book is about a dinosaur whose favorite word, like many toddlers, is “mine,” but then realizes he’s not making any friends by trying to claim everything as his. It’s more about sharing than giving, but still in the same spirit.
Sam and the Lucky Money – I love this book because it seems very real to me for a child. A boy is excited about the Chinese New Year money he receives, but then disappointed when he doesn’t have enough to buy the treats he wants and is having a hard time feeling gratitude. Then, he meets a homeless man who changes his view. Another sweet book.
Awesome Book of Thanks – I love this book because it gives thanks for so many things that we don’t think about (and many silly, ridiculous things, too). From rain, to trains, to teachers and doctors, to boxes and teapots. It is a really fun book and is on the longer side, which I love, because it highlights how much we have to be grateful for!
The Doorbell Rang – This book is actually about fractions and I think is meant for kids in grade school, but I picked it up in a library run and Lion loved it. The mom bakes a batch of cookies, and the doorbell keeps ringing, with more children arriving each time. Each time, the kids at the table say they’ll share with the ones that arrive and say how many cookies they each have now that more kids are there. Unfortunately, we had to stop reading it because after we read it, Lion would demand a cookie and when we explained we didn’t have any cookies, a tantrum would ensue.
What are your favorite pictures books about helping others or being thankful?