Thanksgiving books abound, many of them about thanks, giving, and the history of the holiday. If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, or just something to break up the learning books, here are a few new classics to try. Thanks to the Harvard Co-op Bookstore Kids’ staff for the picks!
The Ugly Pumpkin, Dave Horowitz
A seasonal spin on Hans Christian Andersen‘s “The Ugly Duckling“, “The Ugly Pumpkin” has it all – skeletons, hitch-hikers, and a feast. The story is told in a light rhyme, with lots of opportunities for kids to shout the refrain “I am the Ugly Pumpkin!” The ending brings a sweet surprise for little people.
- ages 3 & up
- some illustrations may be too dark for sensitive children
- several opportunities for children to relate to the Ugly Pumpkin, and share their own experiences
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, Alison Jackson, Judy Schachner
Another seasonal take on a classic, I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie, substitutes Thanksgiving foodstuffs for insects (fly & pie, spider & cider). The illustrations are bright and vivid, growing more ridiculous with each turn of the page. Older children may enjoy reading the story as a group and recognizing traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
- ages 4 -8
- fun for children familiar with “I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly“
I’m A Turkey! Jim Arnosky
This often underappreciated bird gets his due in Arnosky’s funny homage. Tom is part of a large flock of wild turkeys (“We putt and peep and squawk and squabble. Talking turkey. Gobble, gobble”). Turkey life has its downsides (“ ‘cuz lots of critters find us… tasty!”), but Arnosky’s naturalistic acrylics imbue the birds with, if not quite majesty, lots of personality. Though Tom does suggest “the very next turkey that you see/ might be from my flock. It might be me!” no allusions are made to Thanksgiving—this is a treat for any time of year.
- ages 4 – 8
- song download available from Scholastic, here
- best for kids who won’t be upset by eating turkey after reading the book!
Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’ (reillustrated edition), Eileen Spinelli and Megan Lloyd
From School Library Journal:This charming title, originally published in 1982 (HarperCollins), has been newly illustrated with vibrant, humorous artwork, with wolves instead of people as characters. The trouble begins when the turkey slips from Mrs. Tappleton’s grasp and slides out the door, across the lawn, and into the frozen pond. Nonstop hilarity continues and more challenges develop with the pies, mashed potatoes, and even the salad. This family races through the day, experiencing one calamitous food catastrophe after another. However, the guests realize that Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate one another, not the traditional feast. This never-a-dull-moment look at Thanksgiving is a feast for the eyes; the slapstick events that develop are what help to strengthen the family.
- ages 4-8
- longer, like a chapter book; older kids may want to read it alone, or to the group
- fun animal references – Grandpa was as hungry as 3 elephants! – for younger children
- the Tappletons are wolves – some nice wordplay for older readers
- the “family is the most important thing” message is neatly woven into the story without being overwhelming