New Stories of Thanksgiving

November 24, 2010 at 1:50 PM | Posted in Class, Family Learning, Favorite, Lesson Plans, Staff, Teaching, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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Now that Halloween candy and costumes have disappeared from the shelves, ourthoughts turn to the next holiday on the calendar, Thanksgiving. As we plan our holiday meals,decorations, and travel plans, we might also reflect on the many Thanksgiving traditions in ourcommunities and schools. How will we share the diverse stories of Thanksgiving this year?

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Kathryn Mitter Jacqueline Jules , a local children’s book author, has written awonderful book titled Duck for Turkey Day. She says she was inspired by ESOL students whotold her that on Thanksgiving they ate food from their birth countries rather than the turkey,stuffing and cranberry sauce often associated with the holiday. That reminded her of her ownchildhood, growing up with an immigrant father. “Turkey and pumpkin were American foods that were unfamiliar to my Swiss father,” Jules recalls. “He thought turkey tasted too dry, and we often ate duck on Thanksgiving. This memorymotivated me to write a story about a little girl who is concerned because her family is planninga nontraditional meal for Thanksgiving. Since I had so many students from Vietnam at the time, Idecided to make my main character Vietnamese. My students were thrilled. They gave me advice on names for the characters and other details I used in the story.” “My students at this Fairfax County School came from over sixty different countries. Many of them did not speak English at home. But Thanksgiving is a holiday for Americans of all faithsand births. After all, it recalls the landing of the pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. In many ways, mystudents were pilgrims—people who came to America for religious freedom or to find a betterlife. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the diversity in America and that’s what I set out to do inDuck for Turkey Day.” According to the book’s synopsis, “It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Tuyet is excited about the holiday and the vacation from school. There’s just one problem: her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner — not turkey! Nobody has duck for Thanksgiving– what will her teacher and the other kids think?” The message of this story—that there aremany “right” ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, but they all have family in common—is a fresh, heartwarming take on the Thanksgiving story. Duck for Turkey Day isn’t the only children’s book offering diverse perspectives on the Thanksgiving tradition. Here are a few more to share with family and friends this year:

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

By Chief Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup, Jr.

Written by a chief of the Mohawk nation and adorned with vibrant acrylic paintings, this story adapts the Iroquois message of thanksgiving for children.



1621, A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill

A great choice for older children (ages 8-12), 1621, A New Look at Thanksgiving was written in collaboration with the living history museum Plimoth Plantation. The book provides the perspectives of both the English colonists and the Wampanoag people and features photos of museum reenactments.

Ankle Soup by Maureen Sullivan, illustrated by Alison Josephs.

Pets enjoy Thanksgiving, too! This delightful picture book gives “a dog’s ankle-high view of Thanksgiving Day in New York City” through the story of Carlos the French Bulldog’s cab ride past the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.


Gracias, The Thanksgiving Turkey by Joe Cowley, illustrated by Joe Cepeda.

Gracias, The Thanksgiving Turkey features colorful oil paintings and tells the story of a Hispanic boy, Miguel, whose father sends him a live turkey to “fatten up” for the holiday. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next!


1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing these fantastic Thanksgiving books. I am especially excited about the book that was inspired by local immigrant families!


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