7 Children’s Books That Show Kids What It Means to be Grateful

There's a Jewish concept called “recognizing the good,” or hakarat hatov, that helps each of us appreciate the big and small wonders in our lives. There's even a Jewish tradition of saying 100 brachot (Hebrew for “blessings”) every day - upon waking up, before washing hands, at mealtimes, and many, many other times as well. Assuming one sleeps eight hours a day, that means noticing something good about every ten minutes!

Feeling grateful can be tricky during challenging times, but it can be especially comforting at those times, too. As parents, we encourage emotional honesty in our children, helping them name when they feel frustrated, sad, or angry. But we can also help them see that even when things are difficult, there are still reasons to be full of hope and gratitude. Each of the books in this list can help kids (and grown-ups) recognize the good all around them.

A girl and a bird

Gitty and Kvetch
by Caroline Kusin Pritchard

Gitty and Kvetch are good friends, but they have very different outlooks on the world. Gitty's perspective tends to be sunny, while Kvetch's tends to be…well…overcast. But when an actual rain cloud ruins Gitty's day, Kvetch steps in to save the day. This story, with its sprinklings of Yiddish, is a reminder of what friends are really for.

A kid with very long arms

Give Thanks
by Naomi Shulman

There's a reason psychologists recommend gratitude practices. The more we notice and appreciate all the good things around us, the better we feel. Jewish life emphasizes hakarat hatov, noticing the good, and provides opportunities to give thanks multiple times a day. This book offers simple activities to help kids wake up to the everyday joys all around them — and may also them to help create more joy for others along the way.

A view looking into a window at a family

Lights Out Shabbat
by Sarene Shulimson

A young boy visiting his grandparents for Shabbat has a wonderful time despite (or maybe, in part, because of) a rare Georgia snowstorm that causes the power to go out.

A boy holding the book title

Mister Lister
by Judith Pransky

Reuven is loud, clumsy, and misreads social cues, so he finds it hard to fit in with his classmates and gets into scrapes in the classroom. He's excited about starting third grade but worries about going to a new school. At first it seems he's getting off on the wrong foot with the other boys, but a kindly teacher and his own amazing memory for lists help Reuven discover that he can make friends just by being himself.

This sweet book gives young readers an accessible insight into Reuven's neurodiversity and his traditional Orthodox world.

A very excited child

Start the Day
by Vicki Weber

From the moment we wake up each day, there's so much to appreciate. That's why many Jews start the day by saying Modeh Ani, a blessing that acknowledges the simple gifts of being alive. From a little nose down to wiggly toes, there's so much to be grateful for. Even the smallest children, like the ones in this book, can learn to start each day on a thankful note.

A woman, a child, and a dog

A Thank You Walk
by Nancy Loewen

How can you show gratitude? In this sweet, simple book, a mother and child count the many, many ways to say "thank you" as they go on their walk.

A child in a hot air balloon

What a Wonderful World
by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele

This book is based on the song made famous by the late, great Louis Armstrong. It was released in the late 1960s, a time many recall as filled with social and political upheaval -- but there was still inherent beauty in the world. The value of hakarat hatov, Hebrew for “recognizing the good,” is at the heart of traditional Jewish blessings recited every day. Research shows that finding the small wonders in everyday life helps us feel happier and more grateful, even during challenging times.


Want to learn more?
Check out Eight Ways to Teach Kids About Gratitude