Book Corner: Celebrate Thanksgiving with a bounty of storytelling

For years, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. Mostly, that is because it hasn’t yet been too commercialized, so the focus for me and my family remains on simply spending time together and eating, two of my favorite things to do. This year, as I dug into the children’s picture books about Thanksgiving in the library’s collection, I was struck by the variety. When I searched for Thanksgiving books, the results showed all kinds: exploring the history of the holiday in America, describing harvest festivals around the world, exploring the holiday from the perspective of Native Americans, and humorous stories about families and friends spending Thanksgiving together. No matter what kind of Thanksgiving book you are looking for to share with your child, there is likely one to fit your needs.

Balloons Over Broadway, opens a new window by Melissa Sweet
For almost one hundred years, giant balloons have been part of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a major attraction of the event. The story of the balloons’ invention and why they started appearing in the parade is an intriguing one, told here in a way that captures children’s imaginations. The illustrations add an important aspect to telling the story, making the words and descriptions come to life.

Duck and Hippo Give Thanks, opens a new window by Jonathan London, illustrated by Andrew Joyner
It is almost Thanksgiving, and Hippo is preparing to host a “good, old-fashioned Thanksgiving” for all his friends. With apples, bread, squashes, and pumpkins, Hippo spends all day cooking and baking special foods. When his friends show up, they are all excited about the surprises they have brought. Turtle has egg rolls, Elephant has sushi, Pig has pizza, and Duck has tacos. Hippo is upset because these are not foods for a “good, old-fashioned Thanksgiving.”  But then he sees how happy and excited his friends are and realizes what he is truly thankful for is being with them and being able to share nature’s bounty.

The Great Thanksgiving Escape, opens a new window by Mark Fearing
Gavin and his family are spending Thanksgiving at his Grandma’s. Again. His mom and dad put him with all the little kids until the food is ready. They think this is fun for him, but it is not. The little kids are messy and only want to play with little kid toys. When his cousin Rhonda suggests they escape to the backyard and make their own fun, Gavin is in. But to get there they need to sneak past the dogs without waking them up, make it through the “hall of aunts” without being smothered, evade the “wall of butts” in front of the TV, and not let the dessert table distract them.

Harvest Days: Giving Thanks Around the World, opens a new window by Kate DePalma, illustrated by Martina Peluso
Harvest Days explores twelve harvest celebrations in various parts of the world, describing the traditions that people share. From South Korea to Ghana to Spain, people celebrate harvest time by giving thanks for the bounty that nature has provided and the hard work of the people who provide food for their communities. Colorful illustrations reflect the traditional clothing that people may wear during these celebrations and the food they share during their feasts. Backmatter provides more details about each festival, adding to the depth of this lively book.

Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun's Thanksgiving Story, opens a new window by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, and Alexis Bunten, illustrated by Garry Meeches, Sr.
The story of the first Thanksgiving is usually told from the perspective of the Pilgrims, though it always includes acknowledgement of the contributions of the Native Americans and how they helped the Pilgrims. Keepunumuk tells the story of this event from the perspective of the Wampanoag, the people who were living on the land when the Pilgrims arrived. The story is conveyed by a grandmother who tells the story of how the corn spirit Weeâchumun and her sisters--Beans, and Squash--encouraged the Wampanoag to help the new settlers, teaching them to plant, hunt, and fish, and leading to a celebration in the fall.

Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.