Fall leaves crunch underfoot and pumpkin spice is more than just in the air—it’s everywhere you turn. Yes, there’s no escaping fall (my favorite season), especially now that November is upon us. Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away and I confess that lately, visions of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie have been dancing in my head. I love this time of year, not only for the food, but more because of the traditions and family time that accompany the holiday season.
With Thanksgiving in mind, here are five delightful Thanksgiving picture books that celebrate the history and traditions of Turkey Day. Adults and children alike will be captivated by these fun, insightful stories.
Watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a tradition shared by many families, mine included. I love cozying up with a blanket and hot chocolate to watch the amazing balloons, floats, and Broadway musical numbers parade down 5th Avenue. This delightful tale is the true story of Tony Sarg, a German American puppeteer and illustrator who came to be known as “America’s Puppet Master”. In 1928, Sarg and his protege built large helium-filled balloons, some up to 125 feet long, resembling various animals. These became the first, now iconic, balloons millions love to see in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Both you and your kids will enjoy this interesting behind-the-scenes look at a long-standing American tradition.
Without Sarah Josepha Hale, the national Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today may not be in existence. Hale is widely known for authoring the popular nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, but many consider her work to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be her true legacy. Hale’s advocacy began in 1846 and lasted 17 years until President Abraham Lincoln established a national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1863. This book tells Hales captivating story and explains to children how Thanksgiving as we know it do came to be.
This Caldecott Honor–winning picture book brings the story of the first Thanksgiving to life in vivid detail. Giles, Constance, and Damaris Hopkins travel to the New World as pilgrims on the Mayflower. Their little brother Oceanus is born on the ship during their passage. When they arrive in the New World, their colony endures sickness, hunger, and harsh elements, but thanks to the Native Americans they might just make it through their first year in the new land. This historical account is sure to be a family favorite that will be cherished for years to come.
Tuyet is excited for Thanksgiving and a break from school but there’s just one problem. Her Vietnamese American family is having duck instead of turkey. What will her friends and classmates think? When she returns to school after the holiday, Tuyet discovers her classmates’ main dishes ranged from lambs to enchiladas. This story exposes kids to different cultures and reinforces the most important element of holidays and traditions—spending time with family.
Bundle up and jump in the sleigh, a Thanksgiving adventure awaits! This charming book sets Lydia Marie Child’s original verse against Matt Tavares’s detailed illustrations. Experience “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day” like you never have before while you bask in the holiday spirit it inevitably invokes. A classic picture book for all ages, your family is sure to enjoy this book year after year.
Clarissa Fidler is a 20-something discovering her place in this world. By day she is a communication specialist bringing communities news about their local libraries and the resources they provide. When she’s not tweeting or writing a press release, you’ll find her reading the New York Times, cuddling with her cat Harper, catching up on her favorite blogs, enjoying the outdoors, or checking out a new restaurant. If you’d like to read more by Clarissa, check out her blog West Hawthorne Place.
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Clarissa is a wife and stepmom embracing life in the Land of Enchantment. She works as a nonprofit communication specialist by day and blogger by night. Some of her favorite things are Dr. Pepper, green chile, baseball, country music, and her yellow lab.