Halloween candy still lingers in the orange bowl on the counter.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner!
We’ve never had a Thanksgiving with extended family. We’ve always lived too far away. We traveled over the long holiday weekend the past three years. One of our kids doesn’t even like turkey! We have to make our own traditions.
What is Thanksgiving really all about?
Gratitude is a great study for all of us, but it isn’t the Gospel, nor should it replace actual Bible study or discipleship. Practicing gratefulness isn’t a quick fix for depression or debt. It shouldn’t just be a trendy topic for November.
I like to think of this time as an easing into the Advent season, training our hearts and minds to focus on being grateful for our blessings rather than craving more stuff. I want us to look for ways to help others, to show Christ’s love, to be His hands and feet. Of course it’s a festive season with delicious food, perhaps visits with friends or family, holiday activities, or whatever traditions we try to create. We choose to focus on relationships over stuff.
This Thanksgiving book list teaches lessons on history and thankfulness to guide our hearts.
Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor
It’s almost Halloween and little Sylvie Ann has found the biggest, fattest pumpkin. But before she can carve it into a giant, crooked-toothed pumpkin moonshine (or jack-o’Iantern), she has to get it home.
In November by
In November, the air grows cold and the earth and all of its creatures prepare for winter. Animals seek food and shelter. And people gather together to celebrate their blessings with family and friends.
Cynthia Rylant’s lyrical language and Jill Kastner’s rich, cozy paintings capture the cherished moments of this autumn month–the moments we spend together and the ones we witness in the world around us.
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by
Countering the prevailing, traditional story of the first Thanksgiving, with its black-hatted, silver-buckled Pilgrims; blanket-clad, be-feathered Indians; cranberry sauce; pumpkin pie; and turkey, this lushly illustrated photo-essay presents a more measured, balanced, and historically accurate version of the three-day harvest celebration in 1621.
Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by
In 1620 an English ship called the Mayflower landed on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket, and it was Squanto who welcomed the newcomers and taught them how to survive. When a good harvest was gathered, the people feasted together–a tradition that continues almost four hundred years later.
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by
Giles, Constance and Damaris Hopkins are all passengers aboard the crowded Mayflower, journeying to the New World to start a new life. Things get a little more cramped when their baby brother Oceanus is born during the passage. However, when they arrive, there are even worse challenges to face as the Pilgrims are subjected to hunger, cold, and sickness that put their small colony in great danger. With the help of the Native Americans though, they might just be able to survive their first year in this strange land—and have a November harvest to celebrate for generations!
When the pilgrims set out for America, they brought with them a dream for the future. Sickness, hardship, and heartache stood in the way of that dream. But the pilgrims worked hard, keeping their dream close to their hearts, until they were finally able to make it come true.
From the dangerous voyage across the Atlantic to the first harsh winter to the delicious Thanksgiving feast, all the excitement and wonder of the Pilgrims’ first year in America is captured in this vivid retelling that is perfect for the youngest historians.
The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving by
The Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving lasted three whole days. Ann McGovern’s simple text introduces children to the struggles of the Pilgrims during their first year at Plymouth Colony and the events leading to the historic occasion we celebrate today – THANKSGIVING.
When Bartholemew, Remember, and Mary Allerton and their parents first step down from the Mayflowerafter 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.
Richly detailed paintings show how the pilgrims lived after landing at Plymouth, through the dark winter and into the busy days of spring, summer, and fall. Culminating with the excitement of the original Thanksgiving feast, Three Young Pilgrims makes history come alive.
Thanksgiving Day at Our House: Thanksgiving Poems for the Very Young by
A house full of relatives can mean only one thing — it must be Thanksgiving! Starting with a school pageant the day before Thanksgiving and ending with after-dinner snoozing, this book offers a peek at one family’s holiday celebration. Whether for rhyming or singing or simply saying grace, these warm, cozy poems show that there are lots of ways to give thanks — and so many things to be thankful for!
Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by
Celebrate food and family with this heartwarming Thanksgiving picture book. In this spirited ode to the holiday, set at the turn of the twentieth century, a large family works together to make their special meal. Mama prepares the turkey, Daddy tends the fire, Sister kneads, and Brother bastes. Everyone—from Grandma and Grandpa to the littlest baby—has a special job to do.
Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by
Thanksgiving might have started with a jubilant feast on Plymouth’s shore. But by the 1800s America’s observance was waning. None of the presidents nor Congress sought to revive the holiday. And so one invincible “lady editor” name Sarah Hale took it upon herself to rewrite the recipe for Thanksgiving as we know it today. This is an inspirational, historical, all-out boisterous tale about perseverance and belief: In 1863 Hale’s thirty-five years of petitioning and orations got Abraham Lincoln thinking. He signed the Thanksgiving Proclamation that very year, declaring it a national holiday. This story is a tribute to Hale, her fellow campaigners, and to the amendable government that affords citizens the power to make the world a better place!
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving by
When Peppermint Patty invites herself (and most of her friends) to Charlie Brown’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, Charlie Brown reluctantly agrees to make a holiday feast even though he can barely make toast and cold cereal! Can he pull together a memorable meal, or will he and his friends just be grateful when it’s over?
How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story by
After the police come, a family is forced to flee their Caribbean island and set sail for America in a small fishing boat.
When Ed and Ann’s turkey dinner burns, they think their Thanksgiving is ruined. But what appears to be a disaster becomes a blessing in disguise when Ed and Ann unknowingly intrude on an immigrant family’s own Thanksgiving celebration at their new restaurant, The New World Café. Once Grandmother silences her despairing family and invites the unexpected customers to join them, they all share an evening of friendship, good food, and lots of dancing—reminding everyone that Thanksgiving is about opening one’s heart in welcome to the strangers who become friends and the disappointments that bring unexpected joys.
It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Tuyet is excited about the holiday and the vacation from school. There’s just one problem: her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner – not turkey! Nobody has duck for Thanksgiving – what will her teacher and the other kids think? To her surprise, Tuyet enjoys her yummy thanksgiving dinner anyhow – and an even bigger surprise is waiting for her at school on Monday. Dinners from roast beef to lamb to enchiladas adorned the Thanksgiving tables of her classmates, but they all had something in common – family!
Gracias The Thanksgiving Turkey by
When Papa sends a turkey to be fattened up for Thanksgiving, Miguel takes a liking to the friendly bird. Soon, Miguel and Gracias are going everywhere together. But Gracias isn’t a pet-he’s supposed to be a meal! With a little help from Abuelito, Abuelita, and Tia Rosa ((implement accents)), will Miguel be able to keep Gracias off the Thanksgiving table?
As Molly nears her first Thanksgiving in the New World, she doesn’t find much to be thankful for. Her classmates giggle at her Yiddish accent and make fun of her unfamiliarity with American ways.
Molly’s embarassed when her mother helps with a class Thanksgiving project by making a little doll that looks more like a Russian refugee than a New England Pilgrim. But the tiny modern-day pilgrim just might help Molly to find a place for herself in America.
More than anything, Rivka wants to celebrate Thanksgiving. She has learned all about the holiday in school and knows her family has a lot to be thankful for in America. But Rivka’s parents are Jewish immigrants from Poland, and they wonder what Pilgrims and Indians have to do with them. Is Thanksgiving really a holiday for Jews?
Rivka’s grandmother, Bubbeh, decides to take over: She will bring Rivka to see the Rabbi Yoshe Preminger — and whatever the Rabbi concludes, Rivka will have to live with. Rivka knows that Thanksgiving is a holiday for all Americans, from all backgrounds and religions. But how can she convince the esteemed Rabbi Preminger?
The Firefighter’s Thanksgiving by
Station 1 is always a busy place. When there aren’t fires to put out there are plenty of chores to do. And on Thanksgiving Day there’s a big feast to prepare. Lou is in charge of dinner this year, but just as they finish shopping, a call comes in. They drop everything to get to the fire. Other calls interrupt Lou’s cooking throughout the day, and it looks like there may not be a Thanksgiving dinner for these firefighters.
Luckily, the grateful families in their neighborhood show their thanks in a thoughtful, perfect way.
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by
Everyone’s a New Yorker on Thanksgiving Day, when young and old rise early to see what giant new balloons will fill the skies for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Who first invented these “upside-down puppets”? Meet Tony Sarg, puppeteer extraordinaire! In brilliant collage illustrations, Caldecott Honor artist Melissa Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America—the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy’s Parade.
Perhaps you’d like to know a secret, one of the happiest ones of all.
You will surely find it for yourself one day.
You’ll discover it all on your own, maybe when you least expect it. If you’ve not yet discovered the secret of saying thanks, it’s waiting for you. The secret can be found in the sunrise that offers promises full for the day ahead, or in the gentle shade of a tree sheltering you from the hot rays of the sun, or on the rock that offers rest from a long walk.
Like the gardener thankful for every green sprout, and the fireman, for putting the fire out, readers are encouraged to be thankful for the many blessings they find in their lives. Spinelli exhibits her endearing storytelling with this engaging poem, reminding children how blessed and special they are. Meant to be read aloud, this heartwarming picture book will be a treasured keepsake for parents and children alike.
Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving by
Katherine Paterson’s meditations on what it means to be truly grateful and Pamela Dalton’s exquisite cut-paper illustrations are paired with a collection of over 50 graces, poems, and praise songs from a wide range of cultures, religions, and voices. The unique collaboration between these two extraordinary artists flowers in this important and stunningly beautiful reflection on the act of giving thanks.
I’m Thankful by
Sometimes the people, places, and things we take for granted are the things for which we need to show gratitude. I’m Thankful was written to remind children of some of the many things we have to be thankful for.
Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols by
The story of the most truly American holiday and the development of its symbols and legends.
I also really like the books by Kate Waters. Such great pictures and history lessons.
Catherine Anderson says
We bought both Balloons over Broadway and Molly’s Pilgrim couple days ago for my daughter. They were great and very interesting. Thanks for other suggestions.
We discovered some great new books this month and we’re loving them!