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May 15, 2015
It has been a solemn time here in New Jersey after the hit of hurricane Sandy. So many people are without power and are in the midst of devastation. It may seem hard (or almost impossible) at a time like this to remember all that we can be, and should be, thankful for when life is turned completely upside down. I am thankful that my family is safe and healthy. We were extremely fortunate to have gotten through the storm with minimal damage. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for many of our friends. With the holiday season quickly approaching, we all (everyone across the country) need to remember the meaning of the first Thanksgiving and try our hardest to think of ways (even going out of our way) to help others and get everyone through this rough time.
Here are some timely book picks that will get all children into the Thanksgiving spirit.
The Littlest Pilgrim by Brandi Dougherty The Littlest Pilgrim is a beautifully bright and welcoming story about a little Pilgrim girl who wants to be helpful. When I think about this book, my daughter immediately comes to mind. She is always in the middle of everything wanting to help even when it is not really needed. Even though it sometimes takes more effort to get something done by letting her help, I think it is well worth it to give her as many experiences as possible and encourage her to continue growing that intrinsic need to help others.
In the story all the grown-ups are busy (as is true in real life), and the little girl wants to be a part of it all. When she finally gives up helping, she meets a new Wampanoag friend. This is a great book to introduce young children to Colonial life and what some things were like during the time of the first Thanksgiving. This book can start a discussion with young children about the differences in clothing and lifestyle of the people of that time. Children are never too young to learn the spirit of holidays and understanding others.
Early Chapter-Book Readers:
I had a hard time choosing just one book for this section, so I decided to discuss two. I think between the two books I can cover a larger span of readers, so more children can enjoy this part of the holiday season.
My first pick is The Thanksgiving Day from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler. My students love reading the Black Lagoon books when they want an easy and relaxing read. They enjoy the adventures that always start out looking like trouble but turn out just fine. Since Black Lagoon is a series, children can get to know the characters and make informed predictions about how each one will react in certain situations based on events in other books. It is wonderful for students to see consistency in characters across text.
My second pick is for older elementary students: Main Street # 8: Special Delivery by Ann M. Martin. A family is preparing to adopt a baby, and an exciting trip to New York City is involved. There is so much anticipation already, but an added bonus is that it is Thanksgiving time! This is a fun book about family and holidays that children will enjoy during this time of year. It is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.
For older and more advanced readers, I have chosen Summer Boys #3: After Summer by Hailey Abbott. This is geared toward middle-school or high-school readers since it deals with young relationships. This entertaining series helps older readers get a feel for a novel that has interrelated stories, much like some adult novels do. Four cousins are dealing with boy drama, and all of their stories come to a head at an eventful Thanksgiving. Again staying with the seasonal theme, young adults will enjoy reading about how these four girls deal with their current life issues.
I have a very fun and lighthearted pick for nonfiction this time. I’m a Turkey by Jim Arnosky is a great way to enjoy Thanksgiving time. Jim Arnosky loves to study animals and do lots of research before writing his books. This time he studied turkeys and came up with this spoken song that will entertain children of all ages. The song includes some simple facts about turkeys. In addition to enjoying the book on Storia, you and your child can download the MP3 from Scholastic for free and listen along! My daughter listened to this book over and over again, and I am sure she will continue to do so throughout Thanksgiving time. I don’t mind because I enjoy it too. You just might find yourself humming it while at work!
I hope these books get your holiday season off to a great start. Remember to always try to keep in mind what you have to be thankful for even on the worst days. We will continue to dig our way out of branches, water, and sand here in New Jersey, but we will take time to read some good books too. One last thing…don’t forget to check out the Thanksgiving Online Activity where you can find tons of information and activities about Pilgrims and Native Americans!
About Laura Murray:
Laura Murray is a fourth-grade teacher in Paramus, New Jersey. This is her second year using Storia in her classroom and at home with her daughter, and she loves it! We hope you join in with comments about her ideas for using Storia with your children.
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November 6, 2012