105 Ways to Give a Book

Halloween Is the New Thanksgiving!

For years I bemoaned the fact that the Christmas season began the moment the turkey carcass left the table. I didn’t realize how good things were when Thanksgiving marked the beginning of The Holiday Season. Now the carved pumpkins haven’t even grown mold before the endless supply of Halloween decorations (Skeletons! Bloody fingers! Decapitated heads!) are swept off the store shelves and the Christmas hoard makes its appearance (Lights! Giant inflatable Santas! Aqua-Dots! — uh, oops.)

It’s official: Halloween is the new Thanksgiving.1

Last week I went shopping for new winter PJs for the girls and shirts that didn’t reveal my muffin-top from my so-fashionable mid-rise jeans. (Hey, anyone else notice that high-rise jeans are coming back with the label of “slimming?” I hate the fashion industry.) The Christmas onslaught was unbelievable. Everything in the stores seemed to scream that Christmas is right around the corner. Inside the panicked mom within me shouted, “ONLY FIFTY SHOPPING DAYS LEFT! MUST BUY STUFF NOW!” Fortunately, my internal slacker mom slapped her, and all of were able to stick to our original mission of pajamas and women’s shirts with only one High School Musical doll tossed in for good measure.

So, it may come as a surprise to some that Thanksgiving is actually a week away, and there is still time to share seasonal books with the kids at school, in the library, or on the stoop. I’ve read to my daughters’ classes for years, and the teachers are always happy to have me offer. In kindergarten the parents sometimes come in to read, but not so much in the later grades. I’ll go about once a month, on a schedule convenient to both the teacher and me, and share some great books. I love it, the kids love it, and the teacher gets twenty minutes to grade papers.

This time of year, I usually start with a picture book about the first Thanksgiving, striving for one that is low-key on the historical elements, since so much of that is under question. I had a perfect one, and now I can’t remember the title. So, I’m going to look around for it, and in the meantime, feel free to suggest your own pilgrim story in the comments.

For school-age kids, I’m very fond of Thanksgiving in the White House, by Gary Hines. When young Tad Lincoln realizes that his tame turkey is destined for the dinner table, he begs his dad for an official presidential pardon. The event did happen, though this is of course a fictionalized version. The book includes some of Tad’s exploits in the White House, and a section at the end briefly describing Abraham Lincoln’s life and presidency. Interesting, humorous, and educational too!

I like to close with a funny Thanksgiving book, and for a couple of years ’Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving, by Dav Pilkey, has been my favorite. This parody of the Moore poem features a group of school kids on a field trip and eight happy turkeys that win their hearts. They are all having a good time together, until the kids realize the fate of the turkeys, and find a way to save them. The book is certainly funnier to kids who are familiar with the original poem and can compare the entrance of Santa Claus with this description of the farmer, “He was dressed all in denim, / From his head to his toe, / With a pinch of polyester / And a dash of Velcro.” I usually bring some book version of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” to leave with the kids to compare — or I read it the next time I come back.

If you have a favorite Thanksgiving story, whether Pilgrim or Pilkey, share it in the comments. I’m always looking to expand my repertoire.

  1. This phrasing is in reference to the fashion statement, “Brown is the new Black.” And it should be noted that Brown is indeed the new Black. There was a brief period where Orange was the new Brown, which followed a strong, but ultimately doomed campaign whereby Puce was to become the new Brown. In a palate-cleansing move by the fashion industry, Black became the new Black, allowing the current standard, “Brown is the new Black” to make a triumphant return. BTW, only chocolate brown applies, so toss that nasty tan sweater in the Goodwill box. 


web said...

Years ago I joked, "If Christmas is coming, can Halloween be far behind?" And the holiday in question gets earlier every year. Now it's Labor Day.

Melissa said...

Ha. So true.

My favorite Thanksgiving book is Thank you, Sarah. It's funny, it's interesting, my girls like it, and I never tire of reading it. Perfect.

Emy said...

Oh my gosh, we were in Macy's back in September, and I was HORRIFIED that they had Christmas trees and some decorations up and available for sale. SEPTEMBER. WTF?

Sarah Miller said...

My favorites are THANK YOU, SARAH (big surprise, eh?), THANKSGIVING IS HERE. And speaking of department stores and the holidays, give MILLY AND THE MACY'S PARADE a browse sometime.

Aside: There's just no winning in retail. All through September and October we get asked "Where are the Christmas books?" And we get semi-dirty looks when we inform folks that the Christmas books won't get displayed until after Halloween. But then on November 1, you can see some customers fighting the urge to gag and/or roll their eyes when they see the holiday titles are "already" out. *sigh*

Vivian Mahoney said...

I was shocked when Christmas items were loaded onto store shelves the day after Halloween. There must be a conspiracy to make people think Christmas is right around the corner so we stockpile on things we'll forget we have...Not that I would be one people.

web said...

Our favorite: Thank You, Thanksgiving.

Jennie said...

I am not used to living in a neighborhood with kids in it, so I didn't buy my Halloween candy until October 30. Guess which house was handing out green and red candy?!

For Thanksgiving books, I'm a big fan of Molly's Pilgrim.

Faith Williams said...

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons by Eileen Spinelli is a good read and works well.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

coming late here, but my favorite T-day book is Squanto's Journey by Joseph Bruchac. it's told from the Native American point of view and it's very good for kids about 7 and up.

Lindsey said...

hey mr,
i am reading some of your older posts a little late but this one made me stop and laugh. yes, the fashion industry is ridiculous. how can the skinny jean be back when it is obvious that wide leg flatter so much more? only the skinny look good in skinny jean, just a tip. ask clinton and stacey from WNTW.