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At bedtime the other night we were reading The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin, and I was struck by a comment Brother Bear made in the book. He basically said that once Halloween is over there is nothing to look forward to until Christmas. Mama Bear, with her infinite wisdom, reminds the bears that there is a very important day to celebrate in between, Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a quiet holiday – it’s not flashy and filled with presents. But it is such a wonderful opportunity to spend a day with loved ones and to remind us to be grateful for all that we have.
I try very hard to make Thanksgiving an important day in my kids lives, but young kids sometimes have a hard time understanding what the day is really all about. And to confuse matters more – Thanksgiving means different things to different families. My kids have learned the basics of the history of Thanksgiving but don’t quite understand the sentiment of gratitude. I have found several fun kids books that help them learn a little more what Thanksgiving is all about. Ok, some of the books are just about silly turkeys but there are still some good lessons to be learned in these picture books. So, here are our favorite Thanksgiving books.
Charity has been looking forward to Thanksgiving and getting together with her cousins and family only to wake up that morning with chicken pox. Thanksgiving is cancelled – she cannot go see Nana and eat the delicious turkey. She is absolutely devastated. Of course, Grandma somehow finds a way to save the holiday and bring Thanksgiving to Charity. This is a sweet story that reminds us as parents how important the traditions we create are to our children. We see how disappointed this little girl is because she can’t celebrate Thanksgiving with her grandmother – and I love that the book shows how important extended family is to our children.
This is a very silly book about three turkeys who live together on a farm. They all want to be the special Thanksgiving turkey so they hold a competition. The winner will become the Thanksgiving turkey. Once they realize what actually happens to the Thanksgiving turkey they put aside their differences and work together to make sure that none of them actually becomes Thanksgiving dinner. It is a cute story the kids love and has a sweet message of friendship.
I loved the Berenstain bears books as a kid but I think I love them even more as a mom. They all have such a strong message of family – I love that. I also love that Mama Bear is always right! Anyway, in this story Papa Bear grows a giant pumpkin to enter in the Bear Country pumpkin competition. He and the cubs get swept up in the competition and lose sight of the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Don’t worry – Mama Bear sets them right and reminds them of how important family, friends and gratitude are. While we were reading this the other night my five year old daughter remarked “the people you love really are the most important thing in the world”. If a book sends my kids that message I’ll read it every night!
Thanks for Thanksgiving is a simple book. For kids who are overwhelmed by the idea of gratitude, it helps them understand what they can be thankful for. They can be thankful for food, family, their toys and pets. It puts the concept of gratitude in a context that they can understand. At the end of this story I always ask my kids what they are thankful for and I am always pleasantly surprised by the answers – some are intentionally silly but some are truly heartfelt.
One Tough Turkey is a slightly longer fictional story about the first Thanksgiving – told from the perspective of the turkeys! One very smart turkey unites all the turkeys and they work out a plan to make sure they are not on the Thanksgiving menu. The kids enjoy the crazy antics of the turkeys and love seeing the pilgrims outsmarted by a bunch of birds.
We have loved the Bear books ever since my oldest was a baby and we read Bear Snores On almost every night. Bear Says Thanks is one of my favorites in the series. Bear is so bored in his cave and misses his friends. He wants to make a Thanksgiving feast for his friends but has no food. Each of his little friends stops by with a small contribution – some nuts, some fish, a pie. And by the end of the book, because they all shared, they have an amazing feast and wonderful day together. This is the message of Thanksgiving I want my kids to understand.
Alright, this book doesn’t teach us anything about Thanksgiving but it is ridiculously silly and my kids love it.
I think this book is great because it establishes the routine of a traditional Thanksgiving. My kids will ask “what do we do on Thanksgiving?” and this book answers that practical question. We gather with family, we watch the parade, we play with cousins, we cook, we eat – we are thankful.
I love this book because it makes kids really think about what they are thankful for. We live in a world where we take everything for granted and all of us need a reminder sometimes to slow down and be grateful for the small things. Sam is a little bear whose class is working on a Thanksgiving project where each student needs to share the one thing they are most thankful for at Thanksgiving. A lot of his friends shout out answers quickly but Sam can’t really figure out what he is thankful for. It is a cute story of discovery and self growth as Sam realizes what he is most thankful for.
I hope you have found a couple new books to try this Thanksgiving season. Now that Halloween is over we have switched our book basket to all of our Thanksgiving favorites. We will read them all month and try to really understand what it means to thankful.