Giving Thanks for Literacy

Weather turns from the warmth of summer days to crispy air, filled with the smells of nature taking a rest for winter months. November is a month of great change, warmth caused not by the sun, but by that of memories, love, and gratitude. November is a month to reflect on the gifts, blessings, and joys in our lives. Why not be grateful for the ability to read and spend this month enjoying great books about Thanksgiving.

1621 A New Look at Thanksgiving, offers beautiful photographs of a reenactment of the first harvest dinner, unveils the myths revolved around Thanksgiving, and educates young and old about the beginning settlers, their neighbors, and their interactions. The book even includes two traditional recipes, one Wampanoag dish and one New England dish. Both recipes would be a fun addition to any family’s feast that is eager to feature traditional dishes. Thanksgiving isn’t all warmth and happiness for the ancestors of the Wampanoag tribe. For many, it is a day of mourning and remembrance. Consider this as you gather with family and friends, being grateful for the peace and prosperity in your life.

Two craft books to consider are Paper Crafts for Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day Crafts. My favorite craft book was Paper Crafts for Thanksgiving. One activity is to make a “What I am Thankful for Mobile”. This activity has potential to grow with the family. The first year the mobile will be small but as the years grow, so does the mobile. Another project that appealed to me was the “I am Thankful for My Family” tree sculpture. Both projects only need paper, scissors, and something to color with. The whole family can get involved in these projects and create lasting memories. The tree sculpture involves drawing faces of the members of the family. This can be a humorous keepsake as children become adults and look back at their impression of Grandpa’s nose or Aunt Marge’s newest hairdo.

Curling up with a picture book in a quiet corner of a busy household during festivities may be just what some children need. Here are just two of many Thanksgiving related stories available. Arthur’s Thanksgiving by Marc Brown contains many of the myths that have evolved over the decades of Thanksgiving celebrations, but still ends with a solid message of togetherness. I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson, follows suit of the other I Know an Old Lady tales, with witty rhyming and illustrations. It has absolutely nothing to do with gratitude, but rather, gluttony. Still a humorous book children will enjoy.

Who doesn’t like a good parade? How about the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade? My personal favorite festive book read in preparation for the Thanksgiving season, Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet, is based on the creative mastermind behind the Macy’s Parade balloons.  Tony Sarg was a creative genius who loved to create things and figure out how to make them move. Tony’s first amazing creations to make their way through the parade were large scale balloon puppets fashioned after an Indonesian rod puppet. Read the book to learn how Tony solved various challenges that eventually led to the upside-down marionettes we see today “sailing, shimmying, and swaying” through New York City every Thanksgiving morning. Children can create their own upside-down marionettes and put on a parade for family and friends by using drinking straws, various colors and sizes of balloons, decorated with yarn, markers, and anything else the child imagines. Parade observers can cheer on the miniature parade that might come marching through the Thanksgiving Day celebration.

By: Suzanna Tolman

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