As parents, we strive to instill important values in our children—kindness, empathy, resilience, and among the most essential, gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful force that fosters positive relationships, resilience in the face of adversity, and overall well-being. You can nurture gratitude in a profound way with one simple tool: reading aloud.
Reading aloud is a gratitude-building activity for both children and parents. Adopting a daily read-aloud activity will help instill a sense of gratitude in your child – and there are even children’s books that are specially written with this essential value in mind.
Reading Aloud: A Gratitude-Boosting Ritual
The act of reading aloud is a sweet experience with immeasurable effects. It’s not just about sharing stories; it’s about sharing moments, emotions, and insights. Here’s how reading aloud nurtures gratitude in both children and parents:
Quality Time Together
Reading aloud creates a special bond between parent and child. It’s a time when distractions fade away, and you both immerse yourselves in the world of a story. When you dedicate time together, you nurture gratitude for the relationship you share and the moments you treasure.
Stories often evoke powerful emotions. When you read aloud, you can discuss these emotions, helping your child understand complex feelings like empathy, joy, or sadness. This emotional connection teaches gratitude for the ability to feel deeply and connect with others on an emotional level.
Stories allow children to step into the shoes of characters from different walks of life. They experience the world from varied perspectives, fostering empathy. As your child learns to empathize with others, they develop gratitude for their own circumstances and a sense of responsibility to help those less fortunate.
Valuable Life Lessons
Many stories convey important life lessons about kindness, generosity, and the value of community. Often children will note these lessons, after the story is over, even if they don’t yet know the words to describe them. But this opens a door to discuss these themes, which helps your child internalize these values and nurtures gratitude for the goodness in the world.
Reading stories about characters facing challenges and triumphing over adversity can inspire gratitude for the blessings in your child’s life. These stories encourage reflection on what they have, helping them recognize and appreciate their own blessings.
5 Read Aloud Tips to Nurture Gratitude
As a parent, you have the incredible opportunity to not only expose your child to excellent, wholesome stories, but also to guide your child through understanding their meaning. Your example will set the tone to nurture gratitude within your kids.
Here’s how you can leverage reading aloud as a tool to help you do this.
1. Choose Stories that Nurture Gratitude
Select books that explicitly explore themes of thanksgiving, gratitude, sharing, and peace. Look for stories that resonate with your child’s age and interests while conveying these important values.
2. Discuss the Stories
After reading a book, engage in a discussion with your child. Your child probably has a lot to say about the story. He or she might point out little details or even expound upon a theme. Try to avoid “quizzing” your child, but respond and guide them when they open the door to discussion.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Before or after your reading session, take a moment for mindfulness. Ask your child to share something they are thankful for that day. It could be a small act of kindness, a moment of joy, or even a challenge they overcame. This is a great way to begin applying the theme of a story to real life.
4. Connect to Real-Life Experiences
Relate the stories to real-life experiences. If the characters in the book shared their toys, discuss a time when your child did something similar. Relating the stories to their own actions helps children understand the relevance of gratitude in their lives.
5. Model Gratitude
Children learn by example. Express your own gratitude regularly and sincerely. Point out an event or situation in the story that relates to something you are grateful for. Share that reflection with your child.
30 Days of Books that Inspire Gratitude
To nurture gratitude in your child, open a book, snuggle together, and read aloud: it’s as simple as 1-2-3. From infants to middle schoolers, kids enjoy spending time with their parents this way.
And, here’s a great place to start. Below is a list of 30 children’s books, which cover a wide range of ages, from infants to middle school! These books celebrate thanksgiving, gratitude, sharing, and peace. You can buy them easily online, or, bring this list to your library, and your friendly librarian will help you find them!
- “The Thank You Book” by Mo Willems
- “Gracias Thanks” by Pat Mora
- “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña
- “Bear Says Thanks” by Karma Wilson
- “The Thankful Book” by Todd Parr
- “Give Thanks for Each Day” by Steve Metzger
- “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed” by Emily Pearson
- “The Quiltmaker’s Gift” by Jeff Brumbeau
- “Gratitude Soup” by Olivia Rosewood
- “The Blessings Jar: A Story About Being Thankful” by Colleen Coble
- “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts
- “All the World” by Liz Garton Scanlon
- “Zen Ties” by Jon J. Muth
- “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
- “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister
- “Gratitude Is My Superpower” by Alicia Ortego
- “Thankful” by Eileen Spinelli
- “Our Table” by Peter H. Reynolds
- “Grateful in Grateville” by P.M. Dewey
- “The Gratitude Tree” by Sarah DeLeon
- “Pay it Forward” by Catherine Ryan Hyde
- “The Great Unexpected” by Sharon Creech
- “Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate
- “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga
- “When You Trap a Tiger” by Tae Keller
- “Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message” by Chief Jake Swamp
- “The Things I’m Grateful For” by Arnie Lightning
- “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
- “Who Is Malala Yousafzai” by Dinah Brown
- “Thanks a Million” by Nikki Grimes
Take it to the Next Level
November is a wonderful month to focus on reading aloud stories that nurture gratitude. In fact, every month gives us an opportunity to nurture values in our kids through the beautiful practice of reading aloud.
So, think about what values you can inspire next month, and the month after that. Perhaps you’ll nurture gratitude this month, and promote peace next month. What books would you choose to instill those values? What activities could you add to enhance your overall message? Find free suggestions here!