Don’t you just love this time of year?
The weather is getting colder (well, for some of us) and thoughts are turning to warm sweaters, cozy fireplaces and family traditions.
Here at the Yankee Homestead, we love to celebrate each new season and holiday with a collection of our favorite stories, poems and songs*. Below are some of our favorite picks for Thanksgiving.
*Find the poems and songs here: Favorite Thanksgiving Poems, Hymns & Scriptures
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving (Eric Metaxas; Shannon Stirnweis)
We learned about this one from Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition. [Read his post here, which includes a CNN interview with author Eric Metaxas as well as a Focus on the Family Radio Theatre Drama.]
New York Times bestselling author of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. His writing was first published in Atlantic Monthly, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Regeneration Quarterly, Christianity Today, National Review Online, Beliefnet and First Things. The American Booksellers Association chose Metaxas’s The Birthday ABC as a 1995 Pick of the List and Amazon.com honored his Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving with their Number One Bestseller Award for Thanksgiving 1999. He has been featured numerous times on CNN, The Fox News Channel and other television networks, and has been a guest on NPR.
Amazon reviewer G. Waddell says this:
A wonderful and accurate children’s book about the first Thanksgiving. In a society where ‘primary source documentation’ and truth do not seem to matter anymore, this book brings back the factual account of Squanto and God’s mighty power and grace. The illustrations are beautiful and the book is short enough so a very young reader will not lose interest.
Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy (Kate Waters; Russ Kendall)
Samuel Eaton is a young boy living in an early American settlement in the year 1627, and today is the day he will help with his first rye harvest! If he can prove to his father he’s up to the task, he will be able to help with all of the harvest. But harvesting rye is even more difficult than he expected. Was he foolish to think he could do a man’s work?
Click here to see sheet music for “The Marriage of the Frogge and the Mouse” song mentioned in the book. (A rough score is provided at the end of the book, but this one was easier for me to read).
Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl (Kate Waters; Russ Kendall)
Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Times (Kate Waters; Russ Kendall)
Gr. 3-5. Waters and Kendall, who showed the lives of Pilgrim children in Sarah Morton’s Day and Samuel Eaton’s Day, offer a useful companion book, a study of a Wampanoag Indian boy in the 1620s. Clear, full-color photographs, taken at the Plimoth Plantation historical site in Massachusetts, make this an unusually vivid visual presentation of Native American life. In the fictionalized story, young Tapenum, disappointed that he has not yet been chosen to become a warrior, hunts for food, shoots a rabbit for his mother, and goes fishing with a companion. Later he befriends a wise man, who teaches him about making arrows and learning patience. ~Carolyn Phelan (From Booklist)
The Thanksgiving Story (Alice Dalgliesh; Helen Sewell)
NOTE: Dalgliesh is the author of The Courage of Sarah Noble and The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, both Newbery Honor Books. The Thanksgiving Story is a Caldecott Honor book.
[T]he story about one family’s first Thanksgiving in the Plymouth Colony, strikingly present in stylized, naive pictures like colored etchings. Giles, Constance and Damaris Hopkins are aboard the Mayflower, overcrowded when the Speedwell turns back to England. On the journey, the children’s baby brother is born and named Oceanus; he will be one of the smallest in the company of settlers who endure the terrible first year in the New World and gather to celebrate the harvest the next November. The story ends with the great feast to which the colonists invited the Indian chief Massasoit, Squanto and their people who had helped the strangers survive hunger, cold and sickness. (Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving (Ann McGovern; Joe Lasker)
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.
The Plymouth Thanksgiving (Leonard Weisgard)
I like the non-political correctness of this account, as well as the fact that the text is based on information from William Bradford’s diary. Caldecott Award winner Weisgard spent time in Plymouth, Massachusetts in order to bring accuracy to his illustrations.
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving (Louisa May Alcott)
They were poor in money, but rich in land and love, for the wide acres of wood, corn, and pasture land fed, warmed, and clothed the flock, while mutual patience, affection, and courage made the old farmhouse a very happy home.
NOTE: Be aware that most illustrated versions of this title are ADAPTED from the original text. The original text is available online for free (see link below), so it might be fun to check out an illustrated version from the library and let the kids look at the pictures as you read the original text aloud. Just an idea!
- Read the full text of An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, available online for free.
- See multiple versions available for purchase at Amazon.
- This one seems to be the original text (with no illustrations).
- This recent version (pictured below) has nice illustrations, as well as this older one illustrated by Holly Johnson.
Over The River and Through The Woods (Lydia Maria Child; Christopher Manson)
I learned of this book just this year and am eager to add it to our collection!
Recalling a simpler time, this book captures the poem’s sense of excitement and celebration. Readers who join the family en route to Grandfather’s house will observe many details about life in the 19th century. . . . Manson’s woodcuts, painted in the colors of a snowy evening, lovingly depict the wintry countryside. –School Library Journal
HUMOROUS & MISCELLANEOUS
Cranberry Thanksgiving (Wende & Harry Devlin)
A funny story from the Yankee Homestead: One of the highlights of my summer is our county’s annual library used book sale. Two summers ago I found this wonderful book at the sale, but since I already had it at home, I very generously gave it away to a nice family who was looking for many of the same Five In A Row titles as I was.
When I arrived home, to my complete and utter dismay, I realized we owned Cranberry Halloween. Not Cranberry Thanksgiving.
I literally was sick to my stomach when I realized this book was out of print and a used copy would cost me at least $30 at every online source I could think of. At the book sale I would have paid 80¢. So last year we checked it out from the library, and I could barely stand to read it.
There’s a happy ending, though: it’s back in print as of September of this year (2012)! Still not quite the 80¢ book-sale-bargain, but much more affordable at about $13 on Amazon. And now that it’s back in print, I’ve noticed the price for used copies has gone down as well. (I generally buy good used copies over brand new ones in order to save our book-budget pennies, but for this one I decided to spend the few extra dollars to get a new hardback copy).
Note: Maggie and Grandmother and their guests sing the hymn We Gather Together. Click here to read the lyrics and access sheet music, etc for We Gather Together.
Every year Grandmother invited a guest for Thanksgiving dinner and allowed Maggie to do the same. “Ask someone poor or lonely,” she always said.
Thanksgiving was Grandmother’s favorite day of the year. The cooking was done and her famous cranberry bread was cooling on a wooden board. But she wasn’t happy to find out Maggie had invited the unsavory Mr. Whiskers to dinner. Would her secret cranberry bread recipe be safe with him in the house?
After a long absence this delightful 1971 classic is back. So is Grandmother’s recipe!
Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey (Herman Parish; Lynn Sweat)
From School Library Journal
Grade 1–3—In her newest adventure, Amelia Bedelia volunteers to direct the third-grade Thanksgiving play, with the help of handyman Cousin Alcolu. The ditzy housekeeper manages to misinterpret every homonym and slip on every pun, creating a hilarious pageant that is wildly applauded by both children and adults. Parish ably continues his aunt’s legacy by creating another comical chapter book for newly independent readers. Children will enjoy the silly mishaps and misunderstandings while reinforcing their ability to distinguish between same-sounding words that have different meanings. Sweat’s ink and watercolor illustrations are light and airy, adding another layer of humor and familiarity to this latest escapade.
My First Thanksgiving (Tomie dePaola)
Little Bear’s Thanksgiving (Janice Brustlein & Mariana Curtis Fosster)
Adorably illustrated story of a bear who is so excited about Thanksgiving dinner that he asks his friends to wake him from hibernation.
In November (Cynthia Rylant; Jill Kastner)
No Yankee Homestead book list would be complete without a Cynthia Rylant title! 🙂 We read this on the first day of November. It’s a great introduction to the season, covering topics of nature and family (Thanksgiving).
In November, the air grows cold and the earth and all 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.
All AboutTurkeys (Jim Arnosky)
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4-This handsome, information-packed book details the life and habits of the wild turkey, including what it eats, how it raises its young, and where it is found. At first glance, the full-page watercolors and brief text suggest that the book was designed for preschoolers. However, although the facts are presented clearly and succinctly, the somewhat sophisticated vocabulary makes it better suited to slightly older children. Inserts of text and pictures provide detail on each topic. Many of the illustrations are actual-size representations, so readers can get a precise idea of just how big a turkey’s egg or footprint really is.Arwen Marshall, New York Public Library (Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
More Top Picks for Children’s Books About Thanksgiving
Below is an online roundup of additional Thanksgiving book resources. I can’t vouch for the accuracy or quality of the titles mentioned, but it’s worth a look if you’re searching for Thanksgiving-themed stories.
- Best Children’s Books About Thanksgiving (from about.com)
- Best Sellers in Children’s Thanksgiving Books (from Amazon.com)
- Best Children’s Thanksgiving Books (from goodreads.com)
- Fun Thanksgiving Books (from Barnes & Noble)
- Thanksgiving Books for Kids (from Apples4theTeacher)