Coming up a week from today, Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving.
A fitting response to gratitude is generosity towards others, and Thanksgiving finds cooks everywhere preparing ample, artistic feasts for gatherings of family, friends, neighbors and strangers…
… while a myriad churches and community groups work to fill up food banks and dish up meals for the homeless.
I love the connection between giving thanks and goodwill. Today I’ve got three grand picture books that link these for us beautifully. Starting with one that’s brand new:
Thanksgiving in the Woods, written by Phyllis Alsdurf, illustrated by Jenny Løvlie
published in 2017 by Sparkhouse Family
Author Phyllis Alsdurf based this book on an incredible, 20-year tradition for one family in upstate New York who annually host an outdoor, woodland, Thanksgiving feast attended by a couple hundred relatives, friends, and newcomers.
Experience the whole day through the eyes of one young boy, from gathering kindling for the bonfire, to watching the throngs come bearing pots and platters of food, to listening to the fiddling and singing under the stars. It’s a lovely tribute to community, common ground, sharing, and celebrating the simple gifts of life together. Ages 2 and up.
And a couple older favorites:
The Thanksgiving Door, written and illustrated by Debby Atwell
published in 2003 by Houghton Mifflin
Here’s another story of welcoming.
Ed and Ann are alone for Thanksgiving this year and unfortunately, Ann has just majorly burned their dinner.
As black smoke curls from the oven, Ed suggests they try the little restaurant down the street. The doors are open, and a long Thanksgiving-looking table has been set, so all seems well.
What they don’t see is the ruckus they’ve caused in the back kitchen as the restaurant owners — an extended family of Russian immigrants — debate what to do about these folks who have wandered into their private family gathering.
Leave it to Grandmother to step up and extend an Old World welcome. 3 and up.
How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story, written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Beth Peck
published in 1988 by Clarion Books
This ever-relevant story traces the harrowing flight of a group of refugees towards peace.
Fleeing from an ominous threat of soldiers, a family of four hurries out in the night. Secrecy, fear, an overcrowded boat, a miserable journey are all part of the ordeal. Finally they arrive to the welcome arms of strangers, and it just happens to be Thanksgiving Day. Clearly the giving of thanks for safety in a new land has double meaning for this particular dinner party.
Beth Peck’s beautiful illustrations portray these seekers handsomely, with dignity, throughout their plight. Ages 4 and up.