The Thanksgiving break was anything but a "holiday" for many Americans, given all the travel and preparation for family gatherings.

Couple that with the big Christmas shopping push now in full swing, which began with Black Friday and includes today's Cyber Monday, and you can easily see why this is considered among the most stressful times of the year.

Children who tend to copy their parents can easily get swept up in all the pressures attached to the shopping madness this time of year. Something as trivial as a mall parking space can often set off an angry outburst by a stressed parent and that sends a wrong message to children.

It is refreshing then to see people with priorities in order and who can show children the real values. Author Ellen Sabin is one of those with a better alternative to all the craziness this time of year.

Her new work, "The Giving Book", gives children a better perspective on the things that really matter. It offers some fundamental lessons which they can retain for the rest of their lives.

The book is personal and interactive so each child is on his or her own path of self-discovery. Even younger children can benefit by expressing themselves as the main character in their experience and discover how to help others.

Thanksgiving was a good time to teach younger children about being thankful and introducing them to words like "giving" and "charity." Sabin's book is an easy tool to help these terms become part of a life experience, not just a seasonal event.

The children learn to be thankful for the basic blessings in their own lives - health, shelter, food and family - but they can also put their own talents to use in giving to others. Children can be taught to start small, such as packing up clothes for giving to a shelter and maybe shoveling snow to help an elderly neighbor.

We commend author Sabin and her publisher, Watering Can, for bringing a relevant message to young readers. In this season of self-indulgence, it's great to show children how rewarding it can be to give something back to the world.

By Jim Zbick