At her preschool, my daughter is learning about the Pilgrims and Native Americans through simple stories with engaging illustrations clearly intended for very young children, like This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story by Laura Krauss Melmed and One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B. G. Hennessy. That’s fine by me. I’m happy to leave the whole discussion about Pilgrims, Native Americans, and the first Thanksgiving feast to her wonderful, capable teacher. Instead, at home, we’re cuddling up with Thanksgiving books that don’t mention Pilgrims or Native Americans. These picture books prepare little kids by focusing more on the feeling thankful aspect of the holiday.
At the moment, we’re enjoying Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes. This is a sweet picture book listing in rhyme things to be grateful for (“Thanks for umbrellas, for rain boots and puddles. Thank you for Mommy and warm, cozy cuddles.”). Doris Barrette’s appealing artwork depicts a family of five in dynamic, inviting scenes—the parents preparing food for Thanksgiving while the kids play in the kitchen, hopscotch and piggyback rides in the backyard, the nightly tuck-in ritual of kisses and cuddles. Each illustration is chock-full of cozy little details (cute puppies underfoot, toys scattered about) that will draw young children in. The final scene, of course, is that of the extended family gathered together for a festive Thanksgiving dinner: “But most of all, thanks for the family I love!” This book is a great way to get little kids thinking and talking about all the things—big and small—that they’re thankful for. The last page makes space for families to write their own “thankful thoughts, year after year.” When I asked my daughter what she was thankful for, she replied, “Mommy.” (Smart girl!) I asked my toddler son, and he shouted, “Spoon!” So that’s what we wrote on the last page of our book.
And now for something just plain silly and fun to read out loud: 10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Rich Deas, is a counting book featuring goofy-looking turkeys “fooling on a fence.” One by one, the turkeys do foolish things (swing from a vine, roller-skate, ride a wild boar) that make them fall off the fence. My 3-year-old loves repeating the refrain (“Gobble Gobble Wibble Wobble”) and studying the goofy expressions on each turkey’s face. If you’re looking for a fun counting book to read with your preschooler this time of year, do check out 10 Fat Turkeys.
Can you recommend more Thanksgiving books for young children? Which ones are a hit with your kids or class?