Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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What is the true meaning of Thanksgiving? If A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving hasn’t solved all the mysteries yet, these books will delight young readers who are still discovering Thanksgiving. Beyond family gatherings and bountiful dinners, Thanksgiving also marks a transition to quieter times in nature and the cold season. This selection includes Thanksgiving books for younger and older kids, with a couple fun ones for the nature-loving child.
Books for younger kids
Little Turkey (Finger Puppet Book)
Illustrated by Klaartje van der Put
To keep little ones engaged, finger puppet books are the best! This Little Turkey book is easy to read and as you read the words, you can also do the entertainment with the finger puppet. With very few words and images of animals preparing for the winter, Little Turkey is a cute way to say goodbye to the warm months and thanks for the harvest and blessings.
Ages: 2 years+
Gobble, Gobble, Tucker!
Written and illustrated by Leslie McGuirk
Tucker the terrier is a true family dog who loves to have fun. Just in time for the holidays, this book follows Tucker through Thanksgiving, from morning kitchen preps to afternoon outside play with friends and finally, the fabulous evening dinner. What a day! Using simple gouache illustrations and hand letters for text, this book oozes family, friends and Thanksgiving.
Ages: 2 – 5 years
Books for older kids
The Secret Life of Squirrels
Written and illustrated by Nancy Rose
If you thought that all squirrels spend their days gathering nuts and climbing trees, you’ve got it all wrong. Your kids will love Mr. Peanuts, the unusual squirrel who cooks hot dogs on a tiny grill, reads books and invites his favorite cousin over for a visit. Together, they even go camping! Beyond the adorable photos illustrating the text, you’ll have to wonder how the author photographed live squirrels in such unusual settings. Fortunately, there’s a book-end Q&A on that! The book’s a blast and will be fun inspiration before the winter, when squirrels are easier to spot in leafless trees.
Ages: 3 – 7 years
The Great Thanksgiving Escape
Written and illustrated by Mark Fearing
Grumpy hardly describes little Gavin when his parents drop him in a bedroom with drooling young ones, with the sole instruction to wait there until turkey time. Yay. Fortunately for Gavin, cousin Rhonda is an escape artist who suggests that they hit the swing set in the backyard. However, the road to the swing set is full of dangers—vicious guard dogs, hands-on aunts, football watchers, even basement zombies! Perfectly describing the intergenerational fun a large family Thanksgiving gathering fosters, The Great Thanksgiving Escape will inspire older kids to follow in Gavin’s footsteps and to “make their own fun.”
Ages: 5 – 8 years
Winter Is Coming
Written by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jim LaMarche
A young girl sits on a tree platform with a sketch pad next to her, observing deer and other wildlife with binoculars. “A red fox slips into the clearing that I am watching. First-sun hits it back. The red fox shines like a small red fire.” Through the fall season, the girl comes back time and again, observing what she sees, smells and hears in nature. This poetic and bucolic book will be a wonderful gift for young naturalists who can’t wait for the next season because as the book rightly says, winter is coming (and it’s all happening outside your windows.)
Ages: 5 – 8 years.
This monthly feature is also published in the Golden Gate Mothers Group Magazine in San Francisco, November 2014 issue, as the Books for Kids column. I’ve been writing this column since 2005 and love discovering new books for all ages.