After pulling a few great books from the shelves I realized our home library is lacking in a couple of topics, namely how Thanksgiving became an official holiday and why the President pardons a turkey every year.
Pardon That Turkey: How Thanksgiving Became a Holiday by Susan Sloate. Illustrated by Christian Slade. Published by Grosset & Dunlap, 2010.
The first part of Pardon That Turkey tells the story of Sarah Hale and her efforts to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Sarah believed a national day of thanksgiving would create national unity during the tumultuous years leading up to, during and after the war. She repeatedly petitioned Presidents to establish the holiday but was ignored until President Lincoln recognized her wisdom.
The remaining chapters of the book explain the history of the Presidential pardon for one lucky turkey each year. Did you know President George Bush (the dad) was the first to issue a formal turkey pardon? I thought the tradition was much older than that! See, moms learn from children's books, too!
The explanations in this book are informative and interesting. You can't help admiring Mrs. Hale as she perseveres writing letters year after year seeking support for her Thanksgiving holiday idea. The illustrations are engaging and fun to look at without be cartoonish or belittling the subject matter. Definitely a quality book to add to your home library!
You should also consider adding these three books to your library:
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. Published by Parent's Magazine Press, 1971.
Cranberry Thanksgiving came highly recommended by a couple of Rhode Island friends. Set in New England the illustrations are distinctly New England and Rhode Island-ish. The story centers around a Thanksgiving celebration and a secret recipe for cranberry bread.
One of my friends (who has 2 teens and 1 tween) stated that they read Cranberry Thanksgiving every year and then use the recipe in the back to make a batch of cranberry bread. Definitely a fun tradition to consider including in your plans!
(There is a whole series of Cranberry books. I haven't read any of the others but if they follow the pattern of this book that are all simple stories, cute illustrations, and classic New England traditions.)
I have mixed feelings about Saying Grace. The illustrations are warm and inviting. The story is engaging and intended to teach children to pray instead of worrying. I like that.
What I don't like is that harvest feasts are made to appear as a new custom among pioneers (who look more like PILGRIMS than western settlers). That's simply not true. All cultures have included harvest celebrations, though they may not have been observed every year.
Like I said, I have mixed feelings. The historian in me doesn't like the free and easy use of history but overall it's a fun story with beautiful illustrations.
'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey. Published by Orchard Books 1990.
Not all holiday books need to be serious and loaded with facts. Silly and fun books make a good addition to every holiday family library. This book is a perfect example of that kind of story.
On the day before Thanksgiving eight children and their teacher take a field trip to a local turkey farm where they meet 8 plump turkeys:
"Now Ollie, now Stanley, now Larry and Moe, On Wally, on Beaver, on Shemp and Groucho!" The Turkeys were chunky with smiley, beaded faces, and they greeted the children with downy embraces."
After becoming friends with the turkeys the children learn that "these feathery beasts will be chopped up and roasted." Needless to say the children are horrified at the thought. Will the children be able to save the turkeys? You'll have to read the book to find out!
My philosophy is that you can never have too many books, especially children's holiday books! Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving books I should include in our November reading? Please share!
Be sure to like Stephanie's Mommy Brain on Facebook where I'm sharing more Thanksgiving tips and links throughout November.
* More Thanksgiving Kids Activities and Books Posts