Thanksgiving is nearly here, and we all have so many reasons to be thankful. For one, there are really great books for our children. Another? There are really great books about Thanksgiving for us to sit and read with our children as the tryptophan coma wears off. We’re featuring some books ranging from factual to fun for families to enjoy during this warm and cozy holiday season.
The Thanksgiving Story
by Alice Dalgliesh
The Thanksgiving Story is a Caldecott Award-winning text that’s full of accurate and kid-appropriate information about the first Thanksgiving. Dalgliesh shares the story of a pilgrim family’s difficult first year at the Plymouth Colony. While many children will know the basics of the Thanksgiving story, Dalgliesh stirs up curiosities and gives additional details to satisfy them by sharing the experience from the children’s point of view. The illustrations by Helen Sewell are warm, simple, and evoke primitive folk art, but they have a modern quality that appeals to modern youngsters (and their parents). We see the seasons change as the Hopkins family endures a difficult year, and we learn how Chief Massasoit and the Wampanoag people were integral to the survival of the colonists. This all ends, of course, in the first Thanksgiving feast. Children will enjoy the really interesting details in the story and illustrations, and the children’s perspective really makes it all the more attainable to young readers.
by Chris Raschka
While not explicitly about Thanksgiving, Chris Raschka’s newest book, Give and Take, is the perfect setup for having a conversation about the holiday and what it means. This harvest-time fable about a farmer and two little elves, named Give and Take, will teach children the benefit of sharing and finding the middle ground… and appreciating the results. As always, award-winning author Raschka’s illustrations are bold and animated, but at the same time, they’re comfortable. Give and Take are impish looking, and they both live up to their names. The farmer is easily persuaded by each. He gives away his entire crop at Give’s urging. Then he takes a kind pumpkin farmer’s crop at Take’s urging, even though he doesn’t even care for pumpkin. He sees how both extremes impact the farm and all creatures it supports, including himself. That is, until he sees Give and Take fighting one another and has an idea for how to balance giving and taking in the form of working together and sharing. All enjoy a tasty, tasty treat as the grand payoff, much like family and friends all enjoy a communal Thanksgiving feast!
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Did you know that it was very likely that the celebration of Thanksgiving would have died out completely in the 1800s? Imagine the sadness of no pumpkin pie, turkey, a couple days off work watching football or shopping for holiday gifts? Well, you don’t have to, and it’s all because of one fiercely determined woman named Sarah Hale. Thank You, Sarah tells this little-known and interesting story. It took Hale nearly 40 years leading a movement and writing many letters to Congress and other politicials, but she was determined not to let the Thanksgiving holiday die out. In 1863, President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, phew. This text is full of interesting history and shared it with great humor and fun, making it a really fun way for kids to learn about what the country was like and how this one tough woman’s perseverance paid off. It’s also a great opportunity to reflect on the historical timeline between the first Thanksgiving and our current celebrations, with sociological/anthropological and political changes on all points of the line. Bonus points to this book for demonstrating a woman’s ability to make change even when society wasn’t very friendly to women. Reading this book with your kids will surely inspire them to think of Sarah Hale while they’re hiding a piece of pie under a mountain of whipped cream.
by James Dean
Yes! Even this cool cat celebrates Thanksgiving. Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving is a great lift-the-flap book featuring this holiday. It’s a lot of fun for kids, but this is not your usual, silly Pete book. It’s a little more serious, and it’s got some little kid-friendly history and facts. You won’t be walking around singing whatever new song Pete has shared (because there isn’t one), but your preschooler or kindergartener will learn about history and the holiday with a favorite blue feline friend. This is a great introduction to the history of Thanksgiving for the younger set, and it’s sure to please with the surprises hiding behind flaps on every page.