There are many ways we can be more explicit about teaching our children to be grateful. From intentional activities and service opportunities to the books we read, we can shine a spotlight on gratitude.
Stories are a powerful way to shape attitudes and develop character, but humour, rhyme and fun with words can also deliver memorable messages. Here are just a few suggestions for different age groups.
1. All my treasures: A book of joy
Jo Witek & Christine Roussey
In this lift-the-flap book, a little girl is given a beautiful porcelain box and decides to fill it with the things she loves: Rainy days, bubbles, friends’ giggles and special memories. This story helps little ones develop gratitude for the simple but important things in life.
Early to mid-primary
2. Dashing Dog
Margaret Mahy & Donovan Bixley
A fast-paced rhyming tale with lots of word play, this book reminds us not to take for granted the love and loyalty of our furry friends, and to appreciate them even when they’ve disgraced themselves.
3. The Lorax
My all-time favourite Dr Seuss book, this story sends a clear message about appreciating and valuing our natural environment: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
4. New Humans of Australia
Like Humans of New York, the New Humans of Australia concept provides short stories about refugees and migrants—what they escaped from, how they got to safety and what they have contributed to their new homes. Available via website, coffee table books, Facebook posts, Instagram and Twitter, these stories reinforce how privileged we are to live in Australia.
5. One Minute’s Silence
David Metzenthen & Michael Camilleri
This sophisticated picture book (it looks like a children’s book but is designed for older readers) inserts contemporary teenagers into the action at Gallipoli, from the perspective of both the Allies and the Turks. With engaging and sombre artwork, it guides readers to appreciate what they are commemorating each November 11 when observing one minute’s silence.
6. A Fortunate Life
A biography from late nineteenth century/early twentieth century Western Australia, Albert’s life was full of hardship, poverty and rejection. And yet, he considers that he had “a fortunate life”. As one reader commented, “Reading Albert Facey's account of his life leaves me feeling grateful to be Australian.” A young readers’ edition was published in 2018.
7. The Hiding Place
Corrie Ten Boom
This World War II account not only helps us appreciate our freedoms, but also contains an important focus on finding gratitude in dark times. Read it and find out why Corrie’s sister Betsie was right to thank God for the fleas that infested their beds in the concentration camp.
Bonus: For adults
8. Gratitude Works!
Robert A Emmons
A leading gratitude researcher, Robert's book contains scientific research, religious and philosophical insights, and practical tips for making gratitude a way of life.