November days are dark, dim, dismal, dreary. They’re also Days of Gratitude when we ponder what we’re thankful for. This November, I’m thankful for words. For much of my life, words have been important in my world. As a dyspraxic kid, I needed words to understand my world. I was an early talker and early reader.
I’m grateful for the words of my childhood – Polish words. My favorite stories were Janusz Korczak’s tales about King Matt the First. I also enjoyed Grimm’s fairy tales and all the children’s classics like Cinderella and Snow White. We moved to Israel; Hebrew words. I recall reading Joanna Spyri’s Heidi. The first stories I read in English were Kipling’s Jungle Book and Marguerite de Angeli’s The Door in the Wall. As I got older, I enjoyed Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. In high school, it was Tolkien, Michener, Uris, Steinbeck.
The possession that I am most thankful for is my library card. I used the library a lot as a child, and I use it a lot today as an aspiring author. When I was young, my friends existed in books and lived in other worlds – worlds those books transported me to. I could lose myself in a book and forget my loneliness. The little card is my key to other worlds via books, DVDs, and CDs.
Today there are many books that teach children the importance of cultivating gratitude. At my local library, I was drawn to three gratitude books. In Look and be Grateful, Tomie De Paola’s simple words and bright pictures encourages young children to be grateful for each and every day. In Suzy Capozzi’s and Eren Unten’s I am Thankful, a boy learns to think positively even when things don’t go the way he wants. In Grateful Gracie by Jennifer Tissot and Cecilia Washburn, Gracie helps her older, grumpy brother learn the power of gratitude. The book teaches kids that we can remember the good things even when days are gray and life seems hard.
Among the classics are Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, Dr. Seuss’ Did I ever tell you how lucky you are?, and Stan Berenstain’s The Berenstain Bears Count their Blessings.
These five titles common on almost every list of gratitude books for kids:
The Thankful Book by Todd Parr, which celebrates all the little things children can give thanks for.
Bear Says Thanks is a story of friendship and gratitude by By Karma Wilson, Illustrated by Jane Chapman
Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks is a book and CD that combines words, illustrations and music in a stirring anthem to gratitude.
Gratitude Soup by Olivia Rosewood, where Violet the Purple Fairy mixes everything she’s grateful for in an imaginary soup pot.
Thankful by Eileen Spinelli illustrated by Archie Preston encourages kids to be thankful for even the smallest blessings. “The poet is thankful for words that rhyme, the children, for morning story time,” she writes.
Her words resonate in my heart; I’m thankful for words.
I’m thankful for the gift of words and wordsmithing my dad passed on to me. We lived on different continents, traveled separate pathways. I have no memories, few mementos, and only one gift: Language. Like father, like daughter – both lovers of words. For that, I’m grateful.
I’m thankful for writing partners, writer’s groups, writing teachers and mentors, so many resources to improve my craft.
Words matter. With my writing gift, I hope to encourage, engage, enrich the lives of my readers – as my life has been enriched by the written word. I hope to use my words, my voice, to encourage, to affect positive change in our world, to share peace, love, life, joy, faith, hope.
WORDS: Handle with Care
As children, we were told to say:
“Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words can never hurt me.”
Yet words often cause injury and pain…
The scars don’t show,
but the wounds may never heal.
Words – or their absence – have power:
They can hurt, or they can heal.
They can bruise, or they can mend.
They can kill – or give new life.
Use them with care.
To encourage, engage, enrich.
It is said:
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
can change lives.
can change the world
one word at a time.
Some say a picture
is worth a thousand words, but…
Pictures lack sound, smell, or taste…
Words evoke image,
smell, taste, sound, mood, feel.
Words have power.
Words are real.
Words tell a story,
convey a message,
convince the skeptic,
stir up mood and feelings.
My world of words
is worth more
than a thousand pictures.