By Katrina Morse
Being grateful increases a person’s happiness. Studies have proven this to be true even in some children as young as 5 years old! Show your children from an early age to be thankful for the things you value as a family and they could grow up feeling more content and optimistic as adults.
Model for children how to say “thank you” when others are helpful or kind. Point out to them the small things that make life pleasant such as a enjoying an apple, reading a book together, seeing the sun–and then the moon, or hearing someone laugh with joy. Everyone has a different list of things they are thankful for. Maybe your bedtime routine can include you and your child each sharing one gratitude for that day.
For suggestions of what to give thanks for, these children’s books give a multitude of ideas.
“Gracias ~ Thanks” by Pat Mora, illustrated by John Parra. A bilingual book in Spanish and English, this gentle story tells of the everyday things that bring happiness to our lives. “For the cricket hiding when he serenades us to sleep, thanks!”
“Thanks a Million” by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. What makes you thankful and how to you show your thanks? In 16 poems in different formats, the author describes how nice it is to receive thanks as well as to give it. Appropriate for early elementary aged children.
“We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga” by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac. This story takes us on a trip through the seasons in a modern village in the Cherokee Nation. Thanks are given to the plants, animals, people, and rituals for each time of year. Some Cherokee words are incorporated and pronunciations are spelled out on that page of the story. “The Cherokee people say otsaliheliga to express gratitude. It is s reminder to celebrate our blessings and reflect on struggles daily, throughout the year, and across the seasons.”
“The Thank You Letter” by Jane Cabrera. A young girl writes thank you notes to her friends for her birthday gifts, but then sees all the things she appreciates in her life and writes a long list for herself. After reading this book, your children may be inspired to write their own list. Or help with the writing if they can’t write yet, and brainstorm the many small and big things that you both are thankful for.