Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday by Denise Kiernan, illustrated by Jamey Christoph

Published by Philomel Books

Summary:  Starting with a few thoughts about gratitude and how it’s expressed around the world, the book moves to the history of American Thanksgiving, with Sarah Josepha Hale’s campaign to create a national Thanksgiving holiday.  Abraham Lincoln finally agreed, declaring the holiday for November 26, 1863.  It was challenging to find much to be grateful for in the midst of the Civil War, but people celebrated and have continued to up to the present.  Turkey dinners, marching bands, and soup kitchens are all depicted as ways Thanksgiving is observed, and readers are asked to cite their own favorite parts of Thanksgiving.  Includes additional resources.  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  An excellent resource for those revisiting the history of Thanksgiving, as no mention is made of the Pilgrims or the Wampanoag.  It’s a good update to Thank You Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson (2002).  The excellent illustrations will serve as a good springboard for discussing kids’ heritages and traditions.

Cons:  It felt like the book tried to cover a lot of ground, making it feel a bit disjointed at times.

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