Book By Dallas Clayton
“If you are thankful, I will give you more” (Qur’an 14:7)
Grandparents, self-help books and the internet all agree: Raising children to be grateful and gracious is becoming an exceptionally difficult task in our age of rampant capitalism, disposable consumer goods and culture of entitlement.
No matter what time of day or year, somebody somewhere is talking about what steps to take in order to help kids understand and appreciate not only things, but other people and experiences. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) this review will not add any “helpful” steps to this body of knowledge.
Instead, prepare to be inspired by a delightful book which introduces the concept of giving thanks as an action to be undertaken everyday and in every circumstance.
Author and illustrator Dallas Clayton had been writing children’s books for some time when, after being rejected by several publishers, he self-published to incredible success in the mid-2000s. I first came across his work around that time and when An Awesome Book of Thanks was published in 2010, I bought it right away in the hopes that I would share it with my shiny new baby as she grew.
The book begins with listing with what there didn’t used to be – cars or people or stars:
I will admit here that when I get to this page I edit it a bit and read it as “There didn’t use to be anything… but Allah.” Because even though, in the context of the book, it refers to nothing in the created world, for me it feels right to mention that Allah was/is always in existence.
It then moves forward to observing the world and seeing how full it is. How once there was nothing and now there is everything – and for that I say THANK YOU!
The story is thankful for friends, rain, trains and “books to fill my brain”!
For the natural world, for other people, and then, in a sweet change of pace, saying ‘thank you’ for sometimes not being the best. And, after a few pages, pushing the concept a bit further by being thankful even for “bad things”.
The book ends with a final few touching pages of thanks yous – for thank yous themselves and from the author to the reader for simply being who they are. A final statement brings everything together with the observation that “thank yous” keep the world spinning round and that each spin is an end and a beginning.
Over the years we have loved reading this book together. With its cute and charismatic illustrations, rhyming text and heartwarming message – it hits all the right notes in becoming a much cherished classic.
I particularly appreciate that the idea of “thank you” here is presented without any moralising. Instead being thankful is considered natural, enjoyable and fun – an obvious reaction to living in this most marvellous world. And because of this, the message really does stay with us long after the book has been put away and we have, in fact, made an easy game of all the things we can say thank you for – which sometimes includes “imagination creatures” and “microbes”!
So to finish, here is my own addition, not quite polished but written just for you:
Thank you dear friend, for reading this review
Sometimes reading is the best thing to do
Whether with children
Or off on your own
Thank you for having us be part of your zone!
The Awesome Book of Thanks is available to read for FREE online (remember to scroll to the right to keep reading).
If you like it – and I’m sure you will – you can order a copy through your local bookstore or from any major online bookseller.