Holidays (Other), Mailbag, Thanks/Thanksgiving

The Mailbag: Teaching Children Gratefulness

Do you know like of any Biblically sound books that will help teach a 3 yr old how to have a grateful heart? My daughter is trying to cultivate that in my 3 yr old grandson.

Awww, how sweet! What a blessing that he has a godly mommy and Grammy (or Mimi or Mamaw or…).

My youngest child is 18 so I’m not familiar with whatever is currently popular and available, although I’m sure there are some good, doctrinally sound children’s books out there. (Readers, if you have any suggestions, let this sister know in the comments.)

But if you’ll indulge me a trip down memory lane to wallow in sentimentality for just a moment, this was my daughter’s favorite book when she was a toddler (and all her little brothers loved it too!). It combines counting skills, thankfulness, and a hymn – pretty great, if you ask me!

Count Your Blessings by Donna D. Cooner, 1995

Now, it’s just sitting in my closet waiting for some grandchildren to come along…

If you decide to buy some toddler books on gratitude, I would just caution you to vet the authors of any book you’re considering just like you would vet the author of a book for adults. There are many false teachersPriscilla Shirer, Sarah Young, and Sheila Walsh just to name a few off the top of my head – who have branched out into writing children’s books.

But honestly, I think this is a great opportunity for you and your daughter to start teaching your grandson the Bible, Scripture memory, and prayer as it relates to being grateful to God.

Read some stories about people in the Bible who were thankful – the thankful leper, Zacchaeus, Noah, Daniel, rebuilding the temple…really any story in which God acts, provides, or protects and people thank Him for it – and ask a few simple questions. What did the main character in the story need or ask God for? What did God do? What did the main character say or do when God acted, provided, or protected? Has God ever acted, provided for, or protected you like that? How can we tell Him thank you?

Grab your concordance and look up some words and phrases like “give thanks“. Find a simple verse(s), talk about what it means, and practice saying it together. You might be surprised at just how quickly he can memorize those verses! The Bible verse memes in my article Top 10 Bible Verses on Giving Thanks are perfect for printing out or copying to your phone or tablet for this.

Another way to reinforce giving thanks to God is through music. You may find something helpful at Seeds Family Worship, or just create your own playlist on your favorite music platform.

One way I helped my children remember to be thankful (and let me tell you, it didn’t just help my children!) was with a simple little game I called The Gratitude Game. It’s kind of like playing “I Spy.” Just look out the window when you’re driving around in the car, or look around as you’re taking a walk, and take turns thanking God for what you see: “Thank You, God, for making birds.” “Thank You for ice cream.” “Thank You for police officers who help us.”

Books can be fun and helpful, and I hope you find a good one for your little sweetie, but you can’t beat stories and activities that center on Scripture itself.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.