Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. For me the holiday is extra special, because it was around this time five years ago that I first became a mother. So I have an added reason to be thankful this time of year. I also enjoy a reminder to slow down and really savor all that I have to be grateful for. For me this time of year means crisp, fall days; sweaters; pumpkin pie; and time spent gathered with loved ones. It doesn't get much better than that.
To help us all get in the mood for Thanksgiving, I recently filled our book basket with some of our favorite picture books for this holiday. I don't know of a better way to celebrate the holiday season than time spent snuggled up with your children sharing a good book. It is a surefire way to create some cherished holiday memories for both parent and child. So--to get you in the mood for Thanksgiving, here are some great books on the topic that you can share with your children. Some are historical fiction, others celebrate our modern day version of the holiday, and some of just silly and fun--But they are all great books and worth a read!
I hope that you will take time out to make these stories a traditon in your family too!
The Attached Mama's Thanksgiving Book List:
The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell
This book is a new discovery for me, and I absolutely CAN NOT recommend it enough. This book is about an older couple living alone named Ed and Ann. In the book, Ann is making a delicious Thanksgiving feast but then.....poor Ann burns the dinner! Ann feels just plain awful and decides to just spend Thanksgiving home alone, but Ed is hungry! So he suggest that they go and try to find a restaurant that is open. The only restaurant that they can find that is open is "The New World Cafe" a restaurant run by immigrants. So they enter the restaurant and have a seat in the deserted dining room. Little do they know, the owners of the restaurant left the door unlocked by accident. They were planning their own Thanksgiving celebration. They weren't planning to entertain customers too! The restaurant owners try to chase the customers away by banging pots and pans at them. However, the wise grandmother stops them: "Enough! In old country we bang pots at woves, not hungry people. Today is Thanksgiving Day. Family cooks turkey big as doghouse, but we don't share? Bah!" So the restaurant owners include Ann and Ed in their celebration. There is conversation, laughter, and even dancing at the celebration. In the end, Ann agrees that burning the Thanksgiving dinner was the best thing she ever did! This book reminds us that despite our cultural differences we are all people with much more in common than we think! A great read!
The Memory Cupboard: A Thanksgiving Story by Charlotte Herman
For young Katie, nothing compares to Thanksgiving at Grandma's house. However, Katie is heartbroken when she breaks Grandma's cherished gravy boat at Thanksgiving dinner. It is then, that Grandma shows Katie her special "memory cupboard". This is an excellent book that teaches although we may grow attached to possessions, it is people who really matter.
Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
Most children know the story of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. However, many are not familar with the story of Squanto--arguably the true hero of Thanksgiving. In this book, children will learn the remarkable story of the first Thanksgiving from the Native American point of view.
Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
This is another living history book that I highly recommend. It is the story of three young pilgrims named Bartholemew, Remember, and Mary Allerton. When they and their parents first step down from the Mayflower after sixty days at sea, they never dream that life in the New World will be so hard. Many in their Plymouth colony won't make it through the winter, and the colony's first harvest is possible only with the help of two friends, Samoset and Squanto.
This is the Turkey by Abby Levin, Illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
Here's a cute book that I would recommend for younger children just learning what Thanksgiving is all about. The story begins with Max picking out a turkey at the grocery store. It goes on to celebrate all that thanksgiving has to offer: The food, the family, the preparation, and time spent with family. This book also reminds us that our holidays don't always have to be perfect to be wonderful!
The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Green, Paintings by Susan Baber
Written in cumulative rhyme, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving. The repetitive text is fantastic for children learning to read as it gives them a chance to help tell the story. What makes this book unique is the way that the story is told. The book starts out showing the very first Thanksgiving feast, and slowly backtracks to tell the story of the Pilgrim's first year in America.
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin
This book tells the story of a traditional New England Thanksgiving on a cranberry farm. The book is a great reminder that we can't always judge 'a book by its cover' and that sometimes appearances may deceive. Children will enjoy looking for Grandmother's secret and famous recipe for Cranberry Bread which is hidden in the book. Baking this bread will become a wonderful new tradition for you and your family.
It's Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky, Illustrated by Marylin Hafner
We love reading poetry together as a family. And after checking this book out of the library, I just knew that it would someday become a permanent member of our home library. This collection of poetry talks about so many different aspects of this holiday--usually in a very humorous way. This book contains poems about the very first Thanksgiving, a funny poem about "Dad's football game" after the big meal, a poem about the Thanksgiving Day parade (where it is drizzling...isn't it always drizzling during the Thanksgiving Day parade?!), and another very humorous poem about the things we do with all of those turkey leftovers.
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
"Every once in a great while, the hand of God is easy to see, and for a brief moment, fairy tales and history are the same thing. This is the story about one of those times." So begins this wonderful account of Squanto's miraculous story. As a young boy, he was captured, taken to Europe against his will, and sold into slavery. However, that is not the end of Squanto's story. Remarkably, he finds his way back across the Atlantic to the land he was born in. And remarkably, he finds it into his heart to take pity on the English living on his land who he helps.
This is a another great book for very young children and toddlers. The pictures are charming and inviting, the text is simple, but the message is a good one.
This is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore, Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
This book is written in a lyrical verse which makes it a joy to read aloud to children. The illustration are meticulous and breathtaking. Children will really get a sense of what life on the Mayflower might have been like.
The Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock, Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
This was another book that we checked out and knew that we would one day have to buy. My little girl actually cried when it came time to return this to the library! That is how much she loved this book. And I enjoyed reading it as much as my children enjoyed hearing it. The book is a historical fiction which follows a cat who jumps aboard the Mayflower as it is departing England. The cat is befriended by a young girl named Faith. The book is richly illustrated and a pleasure to read. The reader really gets a feel for what life might have been like for a child aboard the mayflower.
The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George
This is a beautifully illustrated "living history" book for children written and carefully researched by Newberry Medal recipient Jean Craighead George. This is a story of adventure, humanity, and compassion....this is the story of the very first thanksgiving day.
This is just a small list of the many fantastic books available on this holiday. My hope is that this list will help get you started on building your own Thanksgiving book basket.
Thanks for reading!
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