Five Little Steps Toward Gratitude

Thank you to Nancy Tupper Ling for being our guest prescriber, just in time for the end of Lunar New Year. Nancy is a member of Picture Book Pals, a group of authors launching their picture books in 2021-23. She is a generous and friendly member of our group, and I love seeing her family photos on Instagram and Twitter. The Lings seem to eat lots of yummy Chinese food at family feasts, and I always happen to be hungry when I’m scrolling!


Not only am I grateful that Zewlan invited me to contribute to her blog, I’m delighted to share some book titles that have helped me to find surprise and wonderment in this new year. 

First, a bit about my own journey. I’m a children’s author, poet, bookseller and former librarian. Basically, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be surrounded by books. FOR EVERY LITTLE THING, which I co-edited with June Cotner, is my latest picture book. Along with several works of poetry, I’ve created the following books for children: The Story I’ll Tell (Lee and Low Publishers), Double Happiness (Chronicle Books), The Yin-Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful (Penguin) and My Sister, Alicia May (Pleasant St Press). 

Surely, a child with a thankful heart makes us smile. As adults, we sometimes long for that childlike sense of awe and appreciation for our world. Many times I’ve found the practice of observation can foster gratitude. That said, I hope you’ll uncover a few more possibilities through the book titles below. 

FOR EVERY LITTLE THING: POEMS AND PRAYERS TO CELEBRATE THE DAY

(Eerdmans Books for Young Readers) edited by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Helen Cann.

June and I created FOR EVERY LITTLE THING with a reflective tone in mind. How do we FIND JOY in the ordinary moments? How do we discover small wonders like the return of the fireflies or a friend’s helping hand? The wonderful thing about reading poetry is the fact that if one poem doesn’t resonate, you might find another that’s perfect for you.

HOUSE OF LIGHT

(Beacon Press) by Mary Oliver.

Speaking of poetry, who doesn’t love spending time with Mary Oliver? Certainly Oliver expresses gratitude through her detailed OBSERVATION of those things in life and nature that are often overlooked in our hurriedness. She writes of the hermit crab and the pipefish, the kingfisher and “The Litle Owl Who Lives in the Orchard.” HOUSE OF LIGHT contains one of Oliver’s most oft-quoted poems, “The Summer Day.” Beginning with poignant questions like “Who made the world? / Who made the swan, and the black bear?” Oliver ends with her famous line: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?” As a reader, you might come away feeling touched by grace.

THANK YOU, OMU!

(Little Brown) written and illustrated by Oge Mora.

How refreshing to have an older character like Omu in a picture book! In a Stone Soup fashion, this story shows the reader how to BE GENEROUS like Omu, who offers her delicious smelling “thick red stew” to those who stop by her home. But will Omu have any soup left for herself? Thankfully, the folks in her neighborhood whom she feeds also reciprocate with gratitude for all Omu has provide. Their gathering in her home brings great delight. 

OUR TABLE

(Scholastic) by Peter H. Reynolds.

Once again, Reynolds has crafted a story that goes right to the heart. When gadgets and gizmos take over the lives of her family, Violet notices their cherished time together at the kitchen table is shrinking. That’s when she gets creative. Violet seeks the help of her parents and brother in order to fashion a new table for their home. OUR TABLE is the perfect reminder to find refuge and to RECHARGE with those you love.”

SEA GLASS SEEKER

(The Countryman Press) by Cindy Bilbao.

This may be an off-the-beaten-path suggestion, but there is something so peaceful that happens in the mind and body when hunting for sea glass. Wouldn’t you agree? If you take the time to EXPLORE the seashore and to discover the small smooth beauty of worn glass, you might feel gratitude. If brilliant and colorful, the sighting is all the more distinct. Certainly, Bilbao’s small book is a treasure as well. With 11 succinct chapters, you’ll be equipped to start your search for sea glass. I was reminded of the time I “forced” my family to travel to Fort Bragg, CA, to see the sea glass beach I’d been dreaming of touring. Turns out, after a bit of moaning and groaning, they were all happy that we made the trip. The shore was covered with sparkling glass, a treasure we’ve only experienced once in our lives. It was worth it!

Wishing you happy reading and a blessed New Year (Gung Hay Fat Choy!) 

Many thanks, Nancy, for your wonderful guest prescription, and for bringing your beautiful book into the world. I can honestly say it is the sort of gorgeous book that would brighten every home.