Editor's note: This post was originally published September 19, 2016.
The more we learn about others, the more understanding, compassionate, and empathetic we can be. And the more understanding, compassionate, and empathetic we can be, the better people we can become.
So much of being a good person hinges upon being grateful for what we have. These five books will help middle schoolers do just that—learn to be grateful for what they have, since strong lessons about gratitude are prevalent in each.
Here are five World Gratitude Day reads for your middle schooler:
I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch
This story of a friendship begins with a pen pal, and it ends with a unique bond between two families. Your readers will connect with the authors, a middle class girl from the U.S. and a poor Zimbabwean boy, and they will learn to appreciate modern day conveniences, education, and the many guaranteed rights we have as Americans.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Auggie Pulman’s brain works exactly the same as every other 10-year-old, but his appearance is anything but normal. His facial differences have caused him more pain than is imaginable. This book conveys lessons in gratitude for good friends, for a supportive family, for school, and for understanding teachers. It is a must-read for every middle school student.
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
How does it feel to be in a wheelchair day in and day out? How does it feel to not be able to write or speak? Your readers will follow Melody’s challenges in being the smartest kid in school but not being able to do anything about it. Thankfulness for the genuine kindness of others is as clear as day in this award-winning book.
Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Both of Willow Chance’s parents die in a car accident which leaves this tween, already isolated because of her genius-level IQ and obsession with counting by 7s, more alone than ever. This book leaves readers grateful for the normal, the everyday, and the little things that we often take for granted.
I Am Malala (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
As the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai is a symbol of peace and change; however, before the Taliban took over Pakistan and changed her world, Malala considered herself no different from the next person — except that she wanted to change the world. After readers learn how Malala stood up for education and for women and, in doing so, nearly lost her life, they will surely feel grateful for their own rights, hopes and dreams, and life.
Please read these books before you hand them to your child. You, as a family member, know best what your child is able to handle, and reading the book will also give you great topics for conversation for your family at the dinner table or during your carpool!
What books that teach gratitude should we add to this list? What are some of your favorites? Share your thoughts with us on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page!
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