Somehow another Halloween has come and gone. If you’ve been shopping or turned on your radio, it’s clear the Christmas season is already here. The time between Halloween and Christmas becomes more compressed every year. Even though Thanksgiving can get lost in the shuffle, it doesn’t mean that it just has to be about the turkey and stuffing. Embrace the holiday as an opportunity to widen children’s concepts of gratitude and absorb some history in the process. Below are some of my book recommendations, for ages 8 and under, to set those conversations in motion.
For The Youngest Reader: “The First Thanksgiving” by Nancy Davis
“The First Thanksgiving” by Nancy Davis touches on the origin of Thanksgiving for your littlest readers. It provides colorful, eye-catching depictions of the Mayflower, Pilgrims, Native Americans, and the first Thanksgiving. With its lift-the-flaps, “The First Thanksgiving” has been a big hit in our house over the years.
On Having Gratitude: “Thankful” by Eileen Spinelli
“Thankful” is great for the 4 and under crowd. It depicts family members in normal everyday situations thankful for what they have. The illustrations are not only adorable but also relatable. “Thankful” is a great way to start your own conversation with your children about gratitude.
The Brief History Lesson: “The Thanksgiving Story” by Alice Dagliesh
Ideal for the 5+ year old crowd, “The Thanksgiving Story” describes the Mayflower’s journey and settlement of Plymouth. “The Thanksgiving Story” provides relatively accurate, yet accessible history to how the first Thanksgiving evolved. It also addresses some of the hardships the Pilgrims faced. Despite this, the underlying message of hope and peace with the Wampanoags remains.
From the Wampanoag Perspective: “Squanto’s Journey the Story of the First Thanksgiving” by Joseph Bruchac
Historically accurate, “Squanto’s Journey” touches on the backstory of Squanto, a Patuxet, and his subsequent first meeting with the Pilgrims. Squanto overcomes his struggles, despite being kidnapped, and eventually learns the English language. Best for 5+ year old readers, this book ends with a description of the first Thanksgiving from Squanto’s viewpoint.
For a Laugh: “10 Turkeys in the Road” by Brenda Reeves Sturgis
Admittedly, this one actually doesn’t address Thanksgiving directly. A farmer’s path is blocked by turkeys who keep doing sillier and sillier things that stall him. Every time we read this giggling is guaranteed! While it’s not a specific Thanksgiving book, it’s particularly enjoyable at this time of year.
It’s never a bad time to read with your children, but it’s great when you use reading to talk about timely subject matters with them. These and other books help to set that stage.
Have a wonderful and very Happy Thanksgiving!