Five Big-Hearted Stories for Thanksgiving
Read & Reflect to Grow Big Hearts
Thanksgiving can seem like a very self-conflicted holiday.
On the one hand, as its very name implies, Thanksgiving is this wonderful, ready-made opportunity to celebrate the abundance in our lives.
On the other hand, soon after that ritual feast and its requisite post-dinner nap, we start another list: the holiday wish list. And no matter how big-hearted we are, or how grown up we are, making that holiday wish list gives us a huge case of the gimmes.
Don't let the gimmes overshadow your holiday. Read our top five picture books with your children and take time to reflect on the unique messages included in each one.
This poetic book sets the perfect autumn tone. My favorite excerpt:
“In November people are good to each other. They carry pies to each other’s homes and talk by crackling wood stoves, sipping mellow cider. They travel very far on a special November day just to share a meal with one another and to give thanks for their many blessings – for the food on their tables and the babies in their arms.”
A family is forced to flee their Caribbean island and set sail for America in a small fishing boat. They arrive on Thanksgiving Day, having experienced fears and hardships very similar to those faced by those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving. This is a very moving story sure to open a conversation about compassion and courage.
This is a special children’s version of the Thanksgiving Address, a message of gratitude that originated with the Native people of upstate New York and Canada and that is still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations. This celebration of so many things we cherish in nature make this a wonderful book to revisit throughout the year or read around the Thanksgiving table.
Did you know the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving lasted three whole days? Ann McGovern’s simple text introduces children to the struggles of the Pilgrims during their first year at Plymouth Colony and the events leading to the historic occasion we celebrate today. This is an excellent and simple introduction to the tradition of Thanksgiving.
Look beyond American history to a similar fall tradition: the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Grace Lin’s story is simple and wonderful to read aloud. The Moon Festival is one of the most important holidays of the year, and though it usually falls in September, this book’s theme of thankfulness, togetherness, and harvest celebrations fits nicely with the other books on this list.
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Check out these creative tools for starting big-hearted conversations. Consider including your favorite at your holiday feast.