Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanksgiving books for storytime

Thanksgiving is a wonderful (mostly) non-commercial holiday that we can all enjoy regardless of our ethnic and religious backgrounds. Following are some of my Thanksgiving favorites for sharing:

Anderson, Laurie Halse. 2002. Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving. New York: Simon and Schuster.

The fascinating true story of the woman who convinced the President Lincoln (the 5th president she petitioned!) to make Thanksgiving a national holiday - a quest on which she spent 38 years!  Written in a witty and engaging style, this one's a pleasure to share with older kids. This story never gets old.

Arnosky, Jim. 2009. I'm a Turkey. New York: Scholastic. (click for review)

A singing look at the natural world of turkeys.  Not a Thanksgiving book, but timely (and fun!), nonetheless.
Mayr, Diane. 2007. Run, Turkey, Run!
A cumulative tale (reminiscent of We're Going on a Bear Hunt) of a turkey on the run.  For the faint of heart, you can even end the book at the point where the family sits down to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner of grilled cheese while the turkey rejoices (and skip the final page when the turkey is spotted again when the family goes out to find a Christmas tree!).  Either way, it's a winner.

Anderson, Derek. 2005. Over the River: A Turkey's Tale. New York: Simon and Schuster. (Based on the song by Lydia Maria Child)
If you want to keep old songs alive, you've got to sing them - and children are the best audience.  They love to sing, they love you to sing with them, and they don't mind if you don't do it well! (I love kids for that)  Break out your singing voice and give "Over the River and Through the Woods" a go while you page through the delightful illustrations of this Thanksgiving classic.

Markes, Julie. 2004. Thanks for Thanksgiving. New York: Harper Collins.

This book's simple rhymes (one line per page)   
Thanks for Thanksgiving, for turkey and pie.
Thank you for fall and gold leaves floating by.
and warm illustrations make it perfect for sharing with your youngest listeners. (the "you" in thank you is left undefined and readers may draw from it what they wish)

Ruddell, Deborah. 2009. A whiff of pine, a hint of skunk: A forest of poems. (Ill. by Joan Rankin). New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

And if you're planning to have children create the classic hand print turkey this year, it simply begs for a reading of "A Wild Turkey Comments on his Portrait," from A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems, if not for the kids, then read it for yourself!
I find it most insulting
that you traced around your hand
and colored all my feathers
either plain old brown or tan.

Where's the copper? Where's the gold
that a turkey should expect?
Where on earth is raw sienna,
and where is the respect?

Finally, I'm baffled
that you've made me look so dumb.
My head is quite distinguished
and it's nothing like your thumb.
The rest of the collection is great as well! Don't miss this one.

Finally, If you're thinking of choosing a book that tells the "traditional" "Thanksgiving story," check out the resources at Oyate first.  Oyate, a Native organization that works to promote honest depictions of Native history and stories, offers Recommended Books about Thanksgiving  and a guide, How to Tell the Difference. I'm thankful that they have decided to discontinue their page on "Books to Avoid."  A list of suggested books is more helpful and affirming than a list of offensive ones.  In the future, I hope that more culturally-correct, Thanksgiving inspired titles are written for preschoolers. In the meantime, I'll be sharing the ones above.

And that's Thanksgiving in a pie shell.  Enjoy!
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