Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Week! Our Favorite Thanksgiving Books

Hi everybody.  
It's Thanksgiving week here at Picnics in the Park.
Thanksgiving is my holiday.
It's the holiday that we've hosted for the past 3 years and it is fast becoming my favorite holiday.
Maybe even, gasp, surpassing Christmas.
Can we still be friends?
There are just so many reasons to love it.
It's not just the food.
I love the focus of thankfulness, and gathering together with loved ones to celebrate that.
It is a good, good day.

This year I thought I'd share a few of my favorite Thanksgiving things with you.
There will be food, crafts, decorating, poetry, vintage books and maybe more?
I know it's Tuesday night, and really this post should have gone out Monday morning, but, my husband left Monday morning for a 10 day trip to a corn field in the middle of Illinois.  (for a press check, at a printers) 
And I've been keeping busy with the kids and feeling tired and sick and this is the first moment I've had to....breathe.
In fact, my house looks like a bomb exploded in it, and all I've managed to clean up is the kitchen.
So that's where I am, typing at the kitchen table, ignoring the rest of the messy house and...breathing.
We'll roll with it, OK?

First up, some of our favorite Thanksgiving reads.
I have a big stack of Christmas books.
They are stored with the Christmas ornaments and only come out at Christmas.
My kids are so very, very excited to see those books every year.
It's like they are seeing old friends.
Last year I decided to start the same tradition with Thanksgiving books.

Thanksgiving can be underwhelming for kids. (or is it just mine?)
After all, it comes between Halloween and Christmas.
I am working hard to create traditions for Thanksgiving that are as meaningful to them as the ones we have for Christmas.
I am hoping to cultivate a love of Thanksgiving in my kids instead of just a, "can we get this out of the way so we can get to Christmas?" attitude.
I have to say, I think it is working.
My kids are growing more fond of this holiday.
I'm thankful for that.

Now back to the books.
Good Thanksgiving themed books are harder to find than Christmas books, and so my collection is still fairly small.
The 3 I'm sharing today focus on the history of Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving Story
written by Alice Dalgliesh
illustrated by Helen Sewell  
(more of her art here.  i love her work)
Published in 1954

This is my favorite Thanksgiving book.
The illustrations are amazing.
They are graphic and rich and colorful.

The writing is great too.
It is a simple tale, following a family on their journey to America.
There is some history about the people who were on the ship and the different reasons many of them were coming to this new land.
The rest of the story is about their first year in America.
It doesn't whitewash it--it was hard and people died.
But it also talks about how they lived.
Did you know the Indians taught them to put a dead fish in the ground when they planted the corn?

My favorite part of the story though, is this sentence: "The Pilgrims decided to have a special day to thank God for all He had given them."
It doesn't skirt around the fact that the Pilgrims had a belief in God and wanted to thank Him.
He was the reason for their celebration.
Many books now say things like, "the Pilgrims gave thanks."
The dead fish that fertilized their corn?
Sorry, tangent.
I just think it's important to acknowledge that God was a part of the original Thanksgiving.

My kids love this book.
I leave it out through the month and they pick it up and look through it again and again.

Next up, more history.
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgirms
Written by Clyde Robert Bulla
Illustrated by Peter Burchard
(he did this and wouldn't you love this?)
Published in 1954

We're reading this book for the first time this year.
My kids love it.
There are a few illustrations with each chapter.
They are black and white and very graphic.
(very different style from the cover--it was illustrated by someone else and, I must admit, if I judged books by their cover, I would be totally turned off by this one.  see original cover here.  it's way cooler than the new one.  but it feels a lot less friendly.  probably why they changed it)
I really like the illustrations.
The story is good also.
It is very simply written.
It's not a picture book, per se, but even Lilly, my 3 year old, can easily follow along.
I never knew much about Squanto.
It's a pretty fascinating tale.

And last, more history still.
Meet The Pilgrim Fathers
Written by Elizabeth Payne
Illustrated by H.B Vestal
Published in 1966

We read this book for the first time last year and my boys, especially James, my oldest, loved it.
It covers a lot more of the history of the Pilgrims than the other two books do.
The book begins with the stories of the Speratists as they worshiped God in secret, fleeing England for Holland and then returning to England to set sail for America.
The rest of the book is full of details of the Pilgrims journey to America and their new life there.
I learned a lot reading it.
I don't like the illustrations at all, but the kids liked all the detail.

In addition to the books explaining the history of the Pilgrims and the origins of Thanksgiving, I am including books that convey an attitude of thankfulness.
For example, Ox Cart Man is now in our stack.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving books?
Please share.
I'm looking to expand our collection.
Love from,


Handbags*N*Pigtails said...

As a third grade teacher and love of childrens books, I can totally appreciate this tradition of yous. I have an entire display of Thanksgiving books set up in my classroom to read with the kids as they earn free time. And Im thankful that, being in a Christian school, we can talk about the TRUE roots in school. :)
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

katie said...

I used to read The Thanksgiving Story to my 1st graders. I love the illustrations.

Mommy Tam-Tam said...

Thanks for sharing these books. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday also and I've been looking for GOOD books for it - not an easy task.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Jenny Plumb said...

Great idea. I think I will check a couple of those out. I love Clyde Robert Bulla.

meg + andy said...

thank you so much! we need good books desperately and had it on my list for today to get on the library website and try to blindly find some. I looked for these 3, they didn't carry them (!) so i ordered them all on amazon. I'm hoping you will share your christmas favorites too ;)