Books to Cultivate Gratitude

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thanksgiving is an especially rich season of the year. It's a time for slowing down, spending more time indoors, and taking stock of what matters most in our lives. One of the ways we cultivate gratitude in our home year round is to talk about one thing we are grateful for each night at family dinner. This is a tradition I inherited from my mother and one I've gladly continued with my own little family. These five books are a great way to involve kids in developing the practice of expressing gratitude on a daily basis. I've teamed up with Kim Christenson of Talk Wordy to Me to share 10 books that cultivate gratitude.

Tiny Blessings: for Mealtime by Amy Parker - "For food that helps me grow up strong. For the table where we eat, for yummy smells that fill the air, and especially the treats!" This visually inviting modern board book is perfect for tiny fingers to explore again and again.

Autumn Forest: Bedtime Story for Kids about Gratitude by Arnie Lightning - When fall finally comes to the forest all the animals are excited to welcome a new season. They savor the sights and smells of this special time of year, as together they move from Halloween to Thanksgiving Day and into the darker days of winter. A preschool favorite and easy way to teach children to do as Thoreau put it "Live in each season as it passes."

Give Thank You A Try by James Patterson - Thank you may be a simple statement, but it can often be an expression for everyday things. From smiles, to snow, to clouds shaped like cows, to tickles and teachers and terrible tongue twisters. This newly published picture book features exuberant illustrations from a handful of notable children's illustrators and is a joy to read a loud.

Judy Moody and Stink: The Wishbone Wish by Megan McDonald - Although this book isn't technically on the "teaching gratitude" radar, it is a smart chapter book that showcases a particularly endearing sibling relationship. Besides, who can resist cheering on Judy and Stink as they train to win the annual Turkey Trot and walk away with the grand prize of a Thanksgiving Day bird?

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving by Katherine Paterson - As Meister Eckhart once said "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'thank you,' it will be enough." So begins this collection of short poems and verse, ranging from gratitude for the natural world, the present moment, the abundance of food we eat, and a richness to all that currently constitutes life.

Talk Wordy To Me's picks: 

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli -

Like the gardener,
Thankful for every green sprout,
And the fireman,
For putting the fire out,
There are everyday blessings,
You don’t need to look far,
To know at a glance,
How special you are.

This might be my favorite Thanksgiving book out there. I love the way it illustrates that no matter who we are or what we do, we all have something to be grateful for.

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon - This is one of my all-time favorite picture books. The words and illustrations are magical and teach gratitude for simple family life and the beauty in our daily rituals.

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende Devlin - I love this vintage book with charming illustrations and a funny tale that teaches us to look past first impressions and judgements to find someone's true character.

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems - We are huge fans of the Elephant and Piggie series over here. This fun book uses the Elephant and Piggie duo's classic humor to remind us to say thank you to the people who bless our lives.

The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood - This book has beautiful illustrations of the world around us and words that remind us to be thankful for the things we often take for granted. I love that it portrays thankfulness as a special secret to happiness. It makes kids more excited to use it.

Hop over to Instagram if you'd like a chance to win all five of these books. And be sure to check out Kim's inspiring roundups over at Talk Wordy to Me.

Four More Halloween Books

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

With Halloween one week away you still have time to snag some of these festive holiday books.

If You're Spooky and You Know It is sung to a familiar tune and encourages little ones to dance around through several different verses. My three-year-old can often be found "reading/singing" this aloud to herself throughout the day. This would be an especially fun book to use at a library story time or Halloween party for kids under the age of five.
Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness might have the best title of all times. While this book is probably best suited for ages 4+ we've had success reading a couple of the shorter poems. Some definitely hit the gross factor for older children, while others are just pure nonsense. Plainly put, this book is packed with a great dose of playful poetry.
One Spooky Night: A Halloween Adventure is a book we added to our collection this year and it has quickly become a favorite. With a slightly sparkly cover, vellum pages within that create an eerie overlay, and detailed cutouts, this festive read is perfect for preschoolers.
How to Make Friends with a Ghost might have the most sumptuous autumn toned endpapers of all time. Plus you really ought to be prepared for encountering spirits this season and this humorous handbook will have you scouting supernatural beings like a pro in no time. In addition, this book offers countless opportunities to create book related crafts (just look online). To learn more about the creation of this book listen to this podcast episode.

For more Halloween recommendations check out these nine books from last year. 

Baby Showers for Second Babies

Monday, October 2, 2017

To my knowledge there's no hard-and-fast rule about baby showers for second, third, or even fourth children. Maybe I should consult Emily Post on the matter. Having a baby shower for the first baby makes a lot of sense. Babies come with truck loads of stuff! Most of which is only used during the first couple years of life. Fortunately, I was showered with not one, but two, generous baby showers three years ago. Creating a registry made the process a bit simpler, but I was pretty clueless about what exactly we needed and what we would use. Now I know, when in doubt, consult this helpful list.

But when it comes to having a second child (especially when it's the same gender), I always feel a little conflicted about a baby shower. Is it necessary? Probably not. Do I need one? Again, probably not. Will I attend someone else's shower that is having a same gender second baby? Most likely yes. Why? Mainly because I feel like babies should be celebrated. And who doesn't like a good party? (By good, I mean absolutely NO hokey baby shower games.)

That said, a couple friends have asked what they can get us for baby number two and to be honest, I've had a hard time responding. Mainly because now that I'm a parent I feel like the most important thing you can give a weary mama of a newborn is sleep. Buckets of sleep. Which, let's be honest, isn't really something you can gift wrap and pop in the mail. Apart from cherished shut-eye, I have a hazy memory of just how many diapers babies use. Sometimes 10-12 in one day! And while giving diapers to a new parent might be akin to receiving toilet paper for Christmas, I can honestly say that diapers are a gift that will be appreciated and get used.

The other SUPER helpful thing about having a child is when friends and family bring meals. We don't live close to any family, but were so lucky to have numerous friends bring meals or muffins over during those first few weeks. What a lifesaver. While I have every ambition of stocking my freezer better this time around, I'm fairly certain if someone sent us a meal kit (like this or this) I might just be the happiest person on the planet.

Lastly, having another baby is a great time to take stock of what worked and what didn't the first time around. Here I'm referring mainly to baby gear. One of my biggest regrets the first time around was purchasing a ten-year-old secondhand car seat. Yikes. Which I now know is technically illegal. That said, I've done some research and decided that we really ought to invest in a new car seat and portable stroller frame to manage the hoopla that will involve navigating two small humans. Any other must-have items you've loved and used for your babies?

Ps. Our tiny registry for baby #2 can be found here.

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