From the Archives

Two Books to Help Develop an Attitude of Gratitude!

This was first posted on my Starborn Revue blog in 2016. I wanted to share these two books with you here. It’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a day in which to remember what you’re grateful for in your life. These two books help us think about gratitude in a fun but meaningful way. Title: The Very Fairy Princess: Attitude of Gratitude Authors: Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton Illustrator: Christine Davenier Publisher: New York, Boston: Little Brown & Co, 2016 Genre: Picture book fiction Audience Age: 4 and up Themes/Topics: Giving thanks, gratitude, coping with setbacks Opening Sentences: Hooray! It’s Gratitude Day! At school, we’ll be practicing an Attitude of Gratitude by showing kindness and appreciation all day long! Well…NO ONE has a fuller heart or is more appreciative than a fairy princess. That’s me! Gerry, the VERY fairy princess. Synopsis: Gerry is looking forward to Gratitude Day at school, and plans to be the most grateful, appreciative, kind and caring kid (oops, fairy princess) that anyone could hope for. But things start to go wrong as soon as she gets on the school bus. Her best friend is sick, and won’t be at school. She has to work to maintain her Gratitude Attitude when she has to sit beside Connor on the bus instead. Things just keep getting worse and worse. It gets harder and harder to have an attitude even CLOSE to gratitude, until it’s practically impossible. However, fairy princesses never give up. Gerry has to find a way to get that Gratitude back. How she does it demonstrates resilience, imagination, and of course a LOT of SPARKLE. (Fairy princesses excel at SPARKLING in the face of adversity.) I’m sure you’ll find this book delightful – and if you read it to a younger sibling or cousin, they’re sure to feel an attitude of gratitude toward you! And just for fun, here’s a link to an interview with the authors! Click here. ~ ~ ~ Title: Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks Author: John Bucchino Illustrator: Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen Publisher: New York: HarperCollins, 2003 Genre: Picture book, song lyrics Audience Age: Any age at all! Theme/Topic: Gratitude Opening Sentences: I’ve got a roof over my head. I’ve got a warm place to sleep. Some nights I lie awake counting gifts instead of counting sheep. Synopsis: Through his gentle lyrics, John Bucchino celebrates the gift of gratitude, remembering all the things there are to be grateful for, including having “a heart that can love” and “a mind that can think.” He also acknowledges that there are times when gratitude is difficult, but somehow remembering the things there are to be grateful for, like people and friends around him. That helps lift his spirits up and make him even more grateful! And there is a bonus – a CD at the back of the book that features Art Garfunkel singing this lovely song. (John Bucchino wrote both words and music.) Activities/Resources to help develop an attitude of gratitude: Make a poster or collage (using old magazines for pictures) of things to be grateful for. Do something for someone else – Gerry, the Very Fairy Princess in the book above, gave things to the food bank. Some families help serve Thanksgiving dinner (or some other holiday meal) at a homeless shelter. Learn to sing John Bucchino’s song. The music and lyrics are at the back of the book, as well as the CD. Maybe sing it around the table when you’re gathered with your family. Talk about things you’re grateful for – I bet someone is grateful for YOU! Have a happy Thanksgiving!

From the Archives: Having Heart and Hope in the Hard Times

From time to time on By Word of Beth, I delve into the blog’s archives, and repost something that can perhaps speak to us again. Throughout this pandemic, we have all been dealing with unprecedented difficulties, with things we have never experienced before, with hard times. Perhaps this post from 2017 can give us some hope as we continue to move through this time, so we can be like this rose, and keep on growing, even though the odds seem against us. How do we deal with hard times? Sometimes it seems as though ostriches, with their fabled “head in the sand” mentality, have it right. When the going gets tough, stick your head in the sand and hope things blow over. First of all, that concept isn’t true. As National Geographic Kids points out, if they did that, they wouldn’t be able to breathe! The times they’re likely to look as though they have their heads in the sand are a) when they’re scrounging for food with their heads down, and b) when the females are turning their eggs, which are laid in holes in the ground. So instead of hiding from reality, they’re really feeding themselves — building up their strength — and ensuring that the next generation is cared for. They’re showing heart and hope. It turns out that ostriches ARE a good example to follow in hard times, just not for the reason we’ve always thought. When hard times come, either personal difficulty, or social or national turmoil and uncertainty, it’s hard to do the things we know deep down are good things — it’s hard to keep on being strong, facing the problems, finding ways to deal with them AND it’s hard to keep on exercising our creativity. It sounds like a platitude, and on one level it is, but we need to have heart and hope in the hard times. We need to keep feeding our minds with good things (and our bodies as well). Seek out truth and true sources of information. Read things that build your understanding — of our world, of people, of your craft. Seek out people who can support you, and whom you can support, as you go through whatever lies ahead. We all need companions on the journey — no matter how introverted we are. We need to find ways to build our strength — that’s our inner strength as well as our physical strength. Again, steeping ourselves in the wisdom of books that help us go deeper into truth; seeking out experiences that will open us to new ways of doing things; learning about other cultures; opening our hearts. And we need to find ways to build our hope in the future, and to bolster others’ hope in that future. This can happen in big and small ways — as Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Many of my friends are finding small ways to make a difference in peoples’ lives and to show heart and give hope in the hard times — crocheting beanies for cancer patients, taking in rescue animals, teaching, creating theatre for kids, building little free libraries and little free pantries, working with #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Those of us who are involved in creating children’s books (and indeed, books for all ages) need to remember that our gifts of strength and hope and heart and celebration of diversity through our writing are needed more now than ever. Keep on writing! Keep on creating! Keep on hearting and hoping! The word courage comes from early Latin and French words for heart. From etymology online: “c. 1300, from Old French corage (12c., Modern French courage) “heart, innermost feelings; temper,” from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart,” from PIE root *kerd- (1) “heart” (see heart (n.)) which remains a common metaphor for inner strength.” There’s a wonderful, inspiring, heartening quotation from Mary Anne Radmacher: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” That takes heart, and it takes hope. May you have them in abundance. May they buoy you up in the hard times.

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