The Character Issue | Teaching Gratitude through books - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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The Character Issue | Teaching Gratitude through books

A couple weeks ago, we introduced the SLOCA character trait for the month of December—Gratitude! It’s said that being happy doesn’t mean you have it all; it just means you’re grateful for what you have. In this post, we have a list of specially selected books that will spark conversations about gratitude.


Being thankful and showing appreciation for those in our lives and for what we have and receive.

Catch Phrase: Say thank you as much as possible.

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett

“My heart fills with happiness when I see the face of someone I love.”

What fills your heart with happiness? The author, Monique Gray Smith, wrote this delightful board book to support the happiness and wellness of Indigenous children and families. The book serves as a helpful reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on what makes them happy. (Ages 2 and up)

Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assissi’s Canticle of the Creatures reimagined by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton

This beautifully illustrated book reimagines Francis of Assisi’s 1224 prayer of praise in celebration of God’s gifts throughout the universe.  Illustrator Pamela Dalton uses stunning cut-paper illustrations to offer an inspiring tribute to nature. (Ages 3 and up).

The Thank You Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

Gerald and Piggie are best friends. Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Piggie wants to thank EVERYONE. But Gerald is worried Piggie will forget someone . . . someone important. (Ages 3 and up)

Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Scott Magoon

In this hilarious book, Spoon wonders why he can’t be lucky like Knife who cuts things up, Fork who gets to stir things up, or Chopsticks who are really cool and exotic. Meanwhile, the other utensils are wishing they could be like Spoon who can measure stuff, go places by himself and bang on pans. Will Spoon be able to learn how to appreciate his place in the world? (Ages 3 and up)

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the stew. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself? This heartwarming story teaches sharing and community in colorful cut-paper designs, with an extra serving of love.  A 2019 Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award (Ages 3 and up)

Gracias Thanks by Pat More, illusrated by John Parra

A young boy celebrates family, friendship, and fun by telling about some of the everyday things for which he is thankful.  The text includes English and Spanish translations side by side. (Ages 3 and up)

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boeltz

All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants. (Ages 5 and up). 

Frindle by Andrew Clements

Nick Allen is known as a troublemaker but the truth is he really just likes to liven things up at school. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he’s got the inspiration for his best plan ever…the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but eventually, the two come to appreciate each other. The ending is guaranteed to make you cry! (Ages 8 and up)

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

In this Newbery Honor book, ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s club foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie.  A touching story of how appreciating others in our lives can bring about big changes. (Ages 10 and up)

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

A new favorite!  In this inspiring book, Mia Tang, a Chinese immigrant has a lot of secrets. Her first secret is that she lives in a motel that her parents help manage. Every day while her parents clean the rooms, Mia manages the front desk even though she is only ten years old. Her second secret is that her parents hide immigrants at the hotel.  If the landlord finds out, they will be fired and kicked out of the hotel. And her third secret is that she wants to be a writer even though English is not her first language.

It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. The author, Kelly Yang, explains at the end of the book how Mia’s story was based on her early life and experiences as an immigrant to the United States. Kelly ends the book expressing gratitude for libraries and books that taught her English and inspired her to keep learning. Battle of the Books for grades 4-6, Winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature. (Ages 10 and up)

Happy reading!*

*Parents, you know your children best, so please preview the content before sharing with them.

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