One of the easiest traditions we have is also one of my kids' favorites: seasonal books. I have a box for the major seasons (well, more than one for Christmas!), with the decorations, books & special toys I've collected for that season. Our "Fall" box has our beautiful autumn placemats, silk flower arrangements, halloween trick-or-treat bags, a pretty "thankfulness leaf" glass jar, my "Harvest Blessings" wooden pumpkin centerpiece... you get the idea. But the best part (according to the kids) is the books. Starting small and adding a book or two each year has gotten us a great collection in just 7 years of marriage's time. Here are some of the books in our Thanksgiving/Fall collection now, along with a few I hope to buy this year. I keep my eyes open at thrift stores, consignment sales and Amazon Marketplace (used & new) and the most I pay is $4 for a really nice copy.
-- The First Thanksgiving, by Linda Hayward, illustrated by James Watling-- this simple reader is well-illustrated and gives a wonderful brief overview of who the Pilgrims were, why they left England, their voyage aboard the Mayflower, their first winter in Massachusets, their friendship with Samoset, Squanto & Massassoit, and the first "Thanksgiving" (harvest feast). I appreciate that the text doesn't try to revise history or make any political point: the story is simply told, both groups (I feel) fairly and positively represented.
-- Squanto & the Miracle of Thanksgiving, by Eric Metaxas, illustrated by Shannon Stirnweis-- I can't read this book without choking up a bit. The tragic events that God used to allow the first Plymouth colony to survive are not widely known: that Squanto (Tisquantum) had been kidnapped as a young man and sold as a slave in Spain, that he was bought, set free & discipled by Spanish monks, that he lived & worked in London for 5 years, that he finally came back to his home village after 10 long years to find it completely emptied by plague, himself the sole survivor, that it was this very village, with its abandoned huts, graveyard & stores of corn which offered enough shelter for the shivering Pilgrims to survive that first winter, that Squanto's understanding of English ways & language prevented misunderstanding & allowed the Pilgrim survivors to have a bountiful harvest that summer, that their coming gave a broken man renewed faith in the God who made use of his misery... all these weave together to make a beautiful backdrop for that first feast of Thanks. Beautiful illustrations. Together they lead you to praise the sovereign goodness of God.
-- Cranberry Thanksgiving, Wende & Harry Devlin-- This tale about a famous cranberry-bread recipe and its would-be thief is Eowyn's favorite book right now. She remembered making the cranberry bread (recipe included! We just de-glutenized it =D) from last year and can't wait to make it again. The story & illustrations are just perfect. A fun story set at the time of Thanksgiving with the message that not all are what they seem; friendship is found in the most unlikely places.
-- Over the River & Through the Wood, poem by Lydia Maria Child, woodcut illustrations by Christopher Manson-- This is my personal favorite. The woodcut illustrations perfectly evoke a 19th century New England Thanksgiving. I love giving my children a glimpse into what life was like at that time. Note: there are many different illustrations for this one classic poem. Manson's are my favorite of them all. :)
-- Over the River & Through the Wood, illustrated by David Catrow-- this book was actually mailed to me by mistake when I ordered the above version, and it is definitely not one I would have bought. The cartoonish illustrations are set in modern times (so there is the value of comparing travel then & now), with a baby floating out the window into a Macy's Day Parade and being caught in Grandma's baseball cap. Ehhh maybe it will grow on me... I just really don't like the style of illustration.
-- If You Were At... The First Thanksgiving, by Anne Kamma, illustrated by Bert Dodson-- one of the excellent Scholastic books in the question & answer style. It does a great job answering all the questions children want to know about life in Plymouth & that first Thanksgiving.
-- ...If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620, by Ann McGovern, illustrated by Anna DiVito-- overlaps a bit with the above volume but focuses more on the voyage, presented in ways a child unfamiliar with month-long trips in small spaces with NO DVD players, can grasp.
Books I hope to snag & add soon:
-- Bear Says Thanks, by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
-- A Strawbeater's Thanksgiving, by Irene Smalls
-- Thanksgiving Graces, by Mark Moulton, illustrated by David Wenzel
-- An Old- Fashioned Thanksgiving, abridged & illustrated version by James Bernadin- I had this vibrantly illustrated children's version given to me by a student's parent when I taught preschool... and alas I think I must have left it in my classroom when I moved to SC because I can't find it anywhere! I also would like to eventually buy the unabridged version when my kids are a little older.
-- The Berenstein Bears Give Thanks, by Jan & Mike Berenstein-- (and/or any of the other BB Thanksgiving-themed stories)-- only because my kids are both absolutely enthralled with these books (I remember being the same way as a kid). I don't know what it is about these books that so fascinate kids (I kind of groan now when they ask me to read them... which they do... every day), but whatever it is, this series hones in on it!
-- The Great Thanksgiving Escape, by Mark Fearing
-- A Pioneer Thanksgiving, byBarbara Greenwood, illustrated by Heather Collins
There are quite a few books out there that look great-- see my ongoing "wish list" here!
What books do you remember reading about Thanksgiving? Most of our favorites have been recommended by friends like you!