Bookworm: Start a tradition with ‘Giving Thanks’

Your young reader will like it very much

Terri Schlichenmeyer

“Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday”

  • By Denise Kiernan, illustrated by Jamey Christoph
  • c.2022, Philomel
  • $18.99, 32 pages

Your bedroom is full, very much. Mom says it’s too much mess. There’s too much on the floor, a big pile of stuff on your bed, nothing’s hung up, the shelves are packed, your table is cluttered, and toys are everywhere. So aren’t you glad to have toys, clothes, blankets, shelves, tables, and a bed? In the new book “Giving Thanks” by Denise Kiernan, illustrated by Jamey Christoph, you have much to be thankful for.

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

Being grateful for what you have is a feeling that’s been around almost as long as there’ve been people on this planet. Everybody has something for which to be thankful and they might be different, or very, very similar.

Back in the 1800s, Sara Josepha Hale was likewise extremely thankful for what she had, and the talents she could share with others. She particularly liked to cook, and to gather friends and family to her table on the days in which her community celebrated gratitude. She thought everyone should serve those delicious foods at their time of thanks.

When Sarah was a child, the days of thanks were held at any time of the year, depending on the town or village. As she got older, she thought it might be best if a day of giving thanks was held on one day, all over the nation at the same time, so she started a years-long letter-writing campaign and she included the White House in her efforts.

“Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday” author Denise Kiernan.

Finally, Abraham Lincoln agreed with Sarah. He decreed that the entire U.S. should have a day of thanksgiving on November 26, 1863.

The Civil War was going on, though, and having a united day of thanks for everyone in the country would be quite difficult. The war split families, friends, and communities – but still, “people did find things to be grateful for...”

And today, “No matter what we do... There is always a reason for gratitude, for things great and small.

Thanksgiving Day,” says Kiernan, “can be every day.”

When you’ve got a seat at the Kid’s Table and everything smells yummy, it’s hard to think about much more than digging in. “Giving Thanks” is a good reminder that appreciating what we have every day is another way to enjoy our bounty.

Don’t think, though, that this is just a cutesy kind of picture book.

Author Denise Kiernan gives kids a bit of an education on gratitude around the world before she dives into the story of Thanksgiving Day in America. It’s a serious account with kid-appropriate tension and questions to keep young readers thinking. This is the sort of book that’s a perfect pre-dinner choice for little-kid read-aloud and it’s bolstered by autumn-toned illustrations from Jamey Christoph – but it’s also one that can grow with a child who might need to know the real story later, for a grade-school project.

Parents and grandparents might be lightly amused by this book, but it’s really meant for kiddoes who are 4-to-8 years old. Start a tradition with “Giving Thanks.” Your young reader will like it very much.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read past columns at marconews.com.