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.
- 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. ↩