Most of November is spent focusing on Thanksgiving, but in the midst of all the turkey talk, there's another thing to celebrate: It's also National Picture Book Month. True story.
The initiative promotes international literacy and gives me yet another reason to spend inordinate amounts of time shuffling through adorable picture books in the children's section. National Picture Book Month was created in 2011 because the founders felt that while we're getting all digital, "picture books (the print kind) need love. And the world needs picture books."
Agreed. Can you imagine a world without The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Or Doctor DeSoto ? Ugh, it gives me the willies. My favorite activity as a kid involved a stack of The Berenstain Bears books, 20,000 stuffed animals, and a container of Cool Whip. You're never too old to enjoy a good picture book; after all, there's as much wisdom stuffed between those two cardboard covers as there is in the 500-page literary tomes we drag around.
So, in light of both Thanksgiving and National Picture Book Month, let's get doubly festive, shall we? There just happen to be an abundance of impossibly charming and generally hilarious Thanksgiving-themed picture books. Coincidence? I think not, as eating and reading are two of the most delightful pastimes known to man. So this Thanksgiving grab the nearest kid (or kid at heart) and check out this list of awesome and appropriately-themed PBs. It's a great way to show your support and gratitude for family, eating, and the magic of picture books.
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
This award-winning picture book tells the true story of Tony Sarg, puppeteer extraordinaire, and the man who invented the giant balloons that make the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade such a spectacle. I love this story — even as an adult, the sight of all those ginormous balloon characters floating down Broadway is pure magic. The collage-like illustrations are bold and beautiful, and Tony Sarg's irrepressible imagination and boundless enthusiasm make the story sing.
Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet by Jane O'Connor
Fancy Nancy is a girl after my own heart with her curly hair and multitude of accessories and just all around fanciness. All the Fancy Nancy stories are gems, but this is my favorite. Thanksgiving at Nancy's house is truly a family affair, and I totally feel Nancy on the whole kid's table incident. I hated the kid's table. The chairs were smaller, which felt insulting. But, like Nancy points out, the food still tasted simply delicious.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson, Illustrated by Judy Schachner
I still remember like five verses to that kindergarten song, "I know an old lady who swallowed a pie/I don't know why she swallowed a pie/Perhaps she'll die." What an odd song for kids to sing. Anyway, just like the original song, this whole story rhymes, which makes it super fun to read. The old lady eats pretty much the entire Thanksgiving dinner, and hijinks ensue. Kind of sounds like my Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland, Illustrated by Sonja Lamut
This sweet story is about the real point of Thanksgiving— being thankful for friends, family and all the other gifts that make life so wonderful. Cheerful, colorful, and poignant.
Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano, Illustrated by Lee Harper
Turkey has figured out that he's the main course for Thanksgiving dinner in this silly and super-fun picture book. Being the clever little bird that he is, turkey disguises himself as various other animals in an attempt to escape his fate. And wow, that's a pretty profound message.
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, Illustrated by Jane Chapman
The illustrations in this lovely little story are beyond charming. I just want to get my arms around bear and squeeze... he's adorable.
Anyway, he invites all his friends over for an epic Thanksgiving feast in celebration of each other. Bear feels bad because his cupboard is bare, but in the end he gives the most special gift of all. Cue the waterworks!
Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving by James Dean, Illustrated by Kimberly Dean
I love Pete the Cat because he always has the same expression on his face. Just like my cat. I can never quite figure out what he's thinking, and it's exciting and kind of scary at the same time. In this Thanksgiving tale, Pete is thinking that even though he's the coolest cat on the block, he's a little afraid to star in the Thanksgiving school play. So cute. Plus it's a lift-the-flap book. So fun.
10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston, Illustrated by Rich Deas
This book is hilarious. Honestly, the turkeys do all kind of crazy stuff — swing from a vine, strut on a boar, do a noodle dance, and more. The countdown from 10 will be such a good time, you won't even realize you're doing math. And coming from number-challenged me, that's quite a statement.
T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Story by Tanya Lee Stone, Illustrated by Gerald Kelley
Obviously turkeys are a running theme on this list, which is great. They're entertaining and surprisingly versatile. This turkey tale brilliantly tells the story of the first Thanksgiving through the letters of the alphabet, from harvest, to pilgrim, to, you guessed it, turkey. And it rhymes. Tanya Lee Stone is a talented lady.
'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
Being a vegetarian on Thanksgiving is no picnic, so this one goes out to all you non-meat eaters. Dav Pilkey cleverly adapts Clement Moore's classic Christmas tale to a Thanksgiving theme. A group of kids visit a turkey farm right before the big holiday. After learning the news that all the turkeys will be sacrificed for Thanksgiving dinner, the kids decide to smuggle them home and have them as guests instead of the main course.
The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh, Illustrated by Helen Sewell
The gorgeous, modern illustrations in this Caldecott Award-winning picture book are brilliant. The rich colors and simple shapes are stunning. The text is also lovely, adding some detail and humanity to the original Thanksgiving story. Really, it's just a beautiful book.
Turkey Claus by Wendi Silvano, Illustrated by Lee Harper
I dare you not to laugh when you read this one. Turkey, desperate to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner, turns to the big man himself for help: Santa Claus. First, however, he has to figure out how to get to the North Pole and into Santa's house. General hilarity ensues, but in the end — big surprise — Santa saves the day.
Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson, Illustrated by Matt Faulkner
Award-winning YA author Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak), brings us the true story of Sarah Hale, the woman who petitioned Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Obviously, she succeeded, and we have Ms. Hale to thank for being given the official right to celebrate friends, family, and food.