This is my favorite time of year for many reasons, with one of them being the Thanksgiving season. Many families join together for special meals, watch sporting events on television and bond over things for which they are thankful. As a teacher, I always sought to bring multiple perspectives for my students about cultural events and history, and Thanksgiving was no exception. Big Universe, with its choice of ebooks, has a similar approach, and I look forward to sharing with you a little more about some of the titles available in our library as well as some lesson “seed” ideas for using these books in your classes in the upcoming days.
Diary of a Pet Turkey by Joanne Ingis puts an interesting twist on the turkey’s purpose for Thanksgiving. Instead of making it the main event at the dinner table, the turkey becomes the family pet. This book shows students many aspects of caring for and raising a turkey, including its physical characteristics, care while in captivity, and engagement in the turkey’s life. Students will love learning about a way that turkey grows, and can write a story about how it would be to care for a turkey with explanation or a creative alternate ending to the story.
One of the things I really like about Carol Crane’s P is for Pilgrim is the way that, with each letter, students learn more about the elements associated with Thanksgiving. In addition to telling us the beginning of the celebration between the Pilgrim settlers and the Wampanoag hundreds of years ago, it talks about interesting facts such as how the turkey was a contender to be our nation’s official bird, the ways pumpkins are used, and notable people such as Squanto and Samoset. Students can research the information further in the book to create their own alphabet for the season to display around the classroom or outside in the hallway for others to see.
Lorna and Lecia Balian’s story Sometimes It’s Turkey, Sometimes It’s Feathers takes a humorous tone to the Thanksgiving holiday. Mrs. Gumm finds a turkey egg one day while hunting for wild mushrooms. She cares for it until it hatches, then decides to raise it for the big Thanksgiving dinner. However, the turkey doesn’t quite behave how she expected, and when the holiday finally rolls around, will the turkey be the main guest or the main course? This would be a good story to teach students persuasive writing by having them respond to whether they think Mrs. Gumm should cook the turkey and give reasons for their decisions. Another idea would be to have students write a second part to the story, but set it one year later. Students will have to decide in the story what Mrs. Gumm does with the turkey.
What other ideas do you have for celebrating Thanksgiving through reading?