Every last Thursday in November, I am reliably drowning mashed potatoes in gravy. Also, turkey in cranberry sauce. And my entire body in spiced cider. I do this in commemoration of those swell Pilgrims whom God decreed worthy of beginning the patriotic tradition of screwing less-special homogenously-brown people out of their own stuff.
Bahahahaha I almost wrote that with a straight face. For realsies, though, I do Thanksgiving up because Thanksgiving food is incredibly delicious. The proper reverence due stuffing is something I want to pass along to my kid. And I guess I want to teach her about gratitude while I’m at it (I am, after all, grateful for stuffing). And if she learns from the get-go that Plains Tribes did not hang out with Mayflower passengers, then I’ll have much fewer misconceptions to correct later on. With all that on my mind, I (thanks)give you seven books I’m planning on using as resources for our family Thanksgivings.
Books that Make Kids Sympathize with Your Meal
Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Miguel gets sent a live turkey from his long-haul trucking dad and—get this—he goes to THE LIBRARY to find out how to care for it. Already I’m liking this kid.
The Very Stuffed Turkey by Katharine Kenah, illustrated by Binny Talib
Turkey’s barnyard buddies invite him to five different Thanksgiving meals, and like a fowl after my own stomach, he appears and dines at all of them, because friendship. And food. But mostly friendship (and also food).
Books Encouraging Gratitude
Giving Thanks by Chief Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup, Jr.
This kid lit version of the Iroquois Thanksgiving Address is year-round material. I mean, how does “Thank you, deep blue waters around Mother Earth, for you are the force that takes thirst away from all living things” not blow you away?
Thankful by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Archie Preston
A grateful persons list in couplets with delightful watercolor illustrations. Opposite the birder who “is thankful to list a new bird” is a pastor who “is thankful for God’s loving word,” if that’s up your alley.
Fact-based Books that Aren’t Crap White Nationalist Propaganda
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
Weather permitting, this might be the year we huddle on the Upper West Side and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons get inflated. I didn’t feel particularly compelled to do so until reading this book about the puppeteer who basically invented them. And it’s a reminder that the parade was for the enjoyment of Macy’s immigrant laborers—and not for the badly lip-synced shilling of pop stars’ forthcoming Christmas albums.
Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Greg Shed
This book gets so many points for talking about how Europeans kidnapped Squanto as part of the slave trade way before the Pilgrims mooched off of him. Good jumping off point for interrogating Squanto’s accepted historical narrative (he maybe later sold his tribe out, but perhaps not?).
Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Matt Faulkner
A nineteenth-century letter-writing campaign is why we have a federally recognized modern Thanksgiving tradition. Read a fair biography of the forgotten lady who just would not stop pestering the executive branch until she was heard.
The Wampanoag by Kevin Cunningham and Peter Benoit
Growing up in the Midwest, we were all about the Illiniwek. But my last college Thanksgiving, I rented a car and drove to Plimoth Plantation instead of going home. There, I finally learned about the Wampanoag. I guess what I’m saying is, get this book if you want your kids to come home during Thanksgiving break.