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Thankful Books November 22, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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There are untold numbers of books devoted to Christmas and Hanukkah. The Horn Book Magazine even runs a special section of them each year because so many new titles continued to be published. It’s a little harder though, to find books about Thanksgiving. Here are a few that I remember from childhood, as well as some newer favorites.

Mousekin’s Thanksgiving by Edna Miller

I loved any book with mice in it as a child, so it isn’t surprising this was a favorite. Mousekin is looking for the animal who has eaten his winter store of food. He goes through the wood, finding animal after animal, until he encounters the culprit–a wild turkey! The details in the watercolor illustrations are always my favorite part of this series, but I’m pretty sure it’s out of print now.

Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen

I remember this as being the go-to Thanksgiving book for many teachers when I was in elementary school. Molly is an immigrant from Russia, newly arrived in the U.S. sometime in the early twentieth century although the text is a bit vague as to the exact year. When asked to make a pilgrim doll for a school project, Molly’s mother makes a doll that looks like her–a Russian Jew who has come to America for religious freedom. Molly is worried that she will be laughed at yet again for being different, but her teacher is understanding and reminds the class that “Pilgrims are still coming to America.” While I’m not sure how many of my classmates truly took in the lesson, I at least liked the books focus on dolls!

Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac

This has become my book of choice for discussing Thanksgiving with students. I met Mr. Bruchac at a Kennedy Center event once and gained a much larger appreciation for the oral traditions he pulls from to create his books. A descendent of the Abenaki Indians of Massachusetts, Bruchac has worked hard to make his account of Squanto’s life as accurate as possible and includes a detailed author’s note about his sources. The text is a little heavy for reading aloud, but I found that students were able to stay engaged if I stopped at a few points to discuss specific events. This is a great title to use when addressing Common Core standards for critical thinking, prompting students to consider the events leading up to the First Thanksgiving from different points of view.

Thank you, Thanksgiving by David Milgrim

I read this book when I was doing my student teaching in kindergarten, a number of years ago. The story is simple; a girl goes out to buy things to make a pumpkin pie. As she walks through the town, she says ‘Thank you!’ to everything she walks by. Trees, snow, milk, and door were just some of the items that got a cheerful acknowledgement. My students loved the book so much that we did our own remake. Each student got to choose something in the school to ‘Thank you’ to, they drew a picture of it while I took a photograph and we compiled them all into our own book. Fun project for little ones at this time of year.

Over the River and Through the Wood by Lydia Maria Child

I think most people have heard this poem, chanted by a family member or teacher, at least once in their life.  I can never remember what comes after “the white and drifted snow” so it was nice to find this new board book version, with all the verses and lovely woodcut illustrations. An old-fashioned family stays warm in their log cabin, enjoys the snowy outdoors and finally arrives at Grandma’s house just in time for pumpkin pie. A great choice for an after dinner read with little ones!

For anyone who reads this, may peace be with you and Happy Thanksgiving!

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