Thanksgiving is dear to my heart because it's an occasion set aside specifically to give thanks.
Many of our children are swamped with stuff, but their focus is on more and bigger stuff. Why give thanks for what you have when you already have it? The energy goes into acquiring more. Ideally, we could start teaching children to want what they get, rather than getting what they want. I'm a long way from this goal myself, but the point is to be moving in that direction-however slowly!
"Thanks and Giving All Year Long" by Marlo Thomas is still my perennial favorite. The book is full of stories, poems and songs about being thankful. Tiger Woods and Mel Brooks are among the many famous people whose work is included in this collection.
"A Book of Thanks (All of Me!)" by Molly Bang is a new picture book. A child expresses thanks for feet, hands, head and heart and all the ways his body helps him. He gives thanks for his feelings and ends with: "And right now I also know that I am part of this whole world -- this universe. And this is my home and I am ALIVE. And this whole universe is inside all of me! What a wonder." Philosophy for preschoolers.
"Giving Thanks" by Jonathan London is illustrated with beautiful paintings by Gregory Manchess. A father walks through the woods with his son, saying "thank you" to all of nature from frogs to mushrooms. The boys says, "To me, it's a little embarrassing to say thanks to trees and things. But Dad says it becomes a habit; it makes you feel good." And the boy learns the habit from his father.
On the lighter side, "I'm a Turkey" by Jim Arnoskey tells children all about wild turkeys and includes an original song that can be downloaded from the Web. "I'm No Turkey" by Hans Wilhelm is a sweet and funny beginning reader book that's perfect for the season. " 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving" by Dav Pilkey is always popular with children and probably is beloved by vegetarians.
For the historical perspective, a good start is "Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving" by Laurie Halse Anderson. Sarah Hale was an amazing crusader for many worthy causes, including schools for girls and the abolition of slavery. Her campaign to save Thanksgiving lasted through four decades, five presidents and the Civil War.
"Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy" by Kate Waters is illustrated with photographs by Russ Kendall that authentically depict life in the 17th century. The book includes a glossary and additional information about Plimoth Plantation and everyday life from clothing to the rye harvest.
A thought for the season from American TV writer Larry Gelbart: "Thanking is just one letter away from thinking."
Reach Fran Hawk at email@example.com.