Many great children's books of our times contain big lessons and pearls of wisdom. In fact, I'd say that some of the best morals taught in life come from books. As parents, we can utilize books to open the door to meaningful conversations with our children about building strong character traits.
The hand-picked quotes below, all from classic children's literature, can help us to remind our kids to appreciate all the people and things around us. Each quote can serve as a stepping stone to discuss the practice of gratitude as a family. And once the essence of the quotes has sunk in, these 12 titles are certainly worth a read — or reread — from cover to cover.
1. “I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
—Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is a beloved classic about a young orphan, Anne Shirley, who comes to live with a brother and sister on Prince Edward Island. Anne has a wonderful habit of noticing all the beauty around her. It’s something we can teach our kids to do, too.
2. “Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.”
—Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown gently wishes a good night to all the things in a child’s room. Naming and acknowledging things around us is a perfect first step in helping young children practice gratitude.
3. “I am happy. I am very happy. This morning when I woke up I felt good because the sun was shining. I felt good because I was a frog. And I felt good because I have you as a friend. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to think about how fine everything is.”
—Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel chronicles the friendship of two amphibians for early chapter book readers. Life is much happier with wonderful friends surrounding us.
4. "'I don't need very much now,' said the boy, 'just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.'
'Well,' said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, "well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.'
And the boy did. And the tree was happy."
—The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a favorite that many readers think of when it comes to giving. In the tale, a tree offers everything she has to a boy. Having a giving spirit goes hand in hand with being appreciative.
5. “Mr. Duncan put the Maggie Pebble in an iron safe. Someday they may want to use it, but really, for now, what more could they wish for? They had all that they wanted.”
—Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig is the tale of a donkey who uses a magic pebble to turn himself into a rock to avoid a lion. His family is incredibly thankful when he returns to them.
6. “You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing."
—Charlotte's Web by E.B. White is a classic novel, where a heroic spider, Charlotte, demonstrates selflessness in her friendship with a rambunctious piglet named Wilbur by spinning webs in a roundabout attempt to save his life. Many generations have been warmed by this tale of innocence, death, and great change that was first published back in 1952.
7. “Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt...you're a better witness for what's beautiful.”
—Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña is the Newbery Award-winning book about a boy and his grandmother who travel by bus to help those in need. When we see others who are less fortunate, our awareness shines on how truly wonderful our own lives are.
8. “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
—Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne allows us to tag along with Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, and Christopher Robin through the forest. These close friends are always willing to lend each other a hand.
9. “We appreciate the complicated and wonderful gifts you give us in each other. And we appreciate the task you put down before us, of loving each other the best we can, even as you love us.”
—Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is the story of a dog who gives a little girl a lot of courage to try new things. The interactions between the two provide opportunities for growth and gratitude.
10. "In November, people are good to each other. They carry pies to each other's homes and talk by crackling woodstoves, sipping mellow cider. They travel very far on a special November day just to share a meal with one another and to give thanks for their many blessings — for the food on their tables and the babies in their arms."
—In November by Cynthia Rylant by Cynthia Rylant illustrates all the things to be grateful for in the autumn — and particularly on Thanksgiving!
11. "And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly. He is very happy."
—The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf showcases a bull who doesn’t like to fight — instead, he savors life’s simple pleasures, like smelling a flower. That's an important lesson for us all. Both parents and children could all use more time sitting under a tree, basking in the scent of nearby flowers.
12. “On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same.’”
—On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman is a warm message about all the beautiful things that happened on the day “you” were born. Newborn babies are some of the most precious gifts to treasure.
Here are a few tips for sharing these quotes with your kids throughout the month:
- Write the quotes on paper and turn them into posters to display around the house. Your kids can decorate the poster with an illustration to match each quote.
- Discuss the meaning of one quote each day, and if you have read the book, relate the quote to the book.
- Let the quotes inspire your kids to create a gratitude journal that they can fill with quotes and list things they're thankful for each day.
You'll truly be grateful for these conversations and experiences with your kids. And, if you enjoyed these gratitude quotes, you'll also want to share these children's books about gratitude.
Connect with Jodie Rodriguez at Growing Book by Book.