A time to be thankful
A full harvest for many who are close to the land
A fresh snap in the air
Bright colored leaves falling to the ground
Thanksgiving comes in the midst of the fall season, when we can easily see the bounty of blessings in the beauty around us and in the food piled on the table at Thanksgiving. As we teach our children the art of being thankful, we must remember that this is not often an easy task for grown-ups, so why should we expect children to master this? I think often of the meme I saw on Facebook:
Being grateful takes mindfulness and helping children, especially children in 21st century America, who are abundantly blessed, to count their blessings is one of the greatest things we can do for this younger generation.
A few books that can help both parents and children to be mindful of gratitude are listed below. Take time to read some of these to your children, but also take time to enjoy the beauty of nature, the falling leaves, the crisp apples fresh from the trees and even the snow, piled to the rooftops, or just sprinkled around the yard. We are blessed and when we pause in our busy lives to look around us, those blessings are abundantly apparent.
The Greatest Table: A Banquet to Fight Against Hunger
by Michael J. Rosen
Beautiful illustrations of food being shared in a multitude of settings. Accompanied by a simple poem extolling the virtues of sharing food and ensuring that no one goes hungry.
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message
by Chief Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup
For those who want to explore the role played by Native Americans in our Thanksgiving celebration, this book is a perfect place to start, especially for young ones. A simple message, taken from the Iroquois tradition of thanking all of nature around us. While especially appropriate for November, this book could start a classroom or family tradition of being mindful of the world around us all year long.
The Thankful Book
by Todd Parr
And one more that helps us to be thankful for all that is around us, even underwear that can be worn on the head. Sharing this book with children will get a laugh, but will also remind children, and adults, that there is so much all around us every day for which we can be thankful.
As many are doing on Facebook this month, why not start a thankfulness chart in your home or classroom? Think carefully of at least one thing you are thankful for each day, encourage your children to do the same. Make it more than a pedantic exercise; make it joyful, upbeat and mindful. For a few minutes each day, stop and think of all we have to be grateful for. Even the snow!
(All books mentioned in this blog are available at the Peace Study Center Library. Feel free to explore!)
Written by Wendy M. Smith
Wendy M. Smith, PhD, joined the PSC Board in 2012 and is also the PSC Board President. Wendy is currently the chair of the Teacher Education Department within the School of Education at Loyola University Maryland. She teaches classes in literacy education for elementary education majors and graduate students in the Reading Specialist Degree Program. She has been a Peace Corps Volunteer, an executive director of a non-profit advocating for people with cognitive disabilities, an elementary special education teacher and a certified Lamaze instructor. Wendy’s area of expertise is children’s literature and she has written numerous papers on the use of books that contain characters that are marginalized by society; these include books with children who have cognitive and other disabilities, children who are abused, children who live in war zones and African American children.