Article, Book Resources

Bookshelf Bests: Thanksgiving Traditions, Election Surprises (Grades K–5)

By Margie Markarian
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

This month's recommended reading falls right in step with election coverage and turkey talk. From animals running for president and kids in the White House to anecdotes and rhymes about Thanksgiving traditions, these fiction and nonfiction titles will make for an amusing and informative November full of reading.

Grades K–2

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin
Treat kids to a comical look at Duck's campaign to be elected farmer, then governor, and finally president! You'll be chuckling right along as Duck visits diners, marches in parades, attends town meetings, and plays the saxophone on late-night TV. And just like the real world, opponents demand recounts. Duck wins every time, but quickly learns that holding office is "hard work" and "no fun." He hands over his presidential duties to the VP and heads back to the farm to write his memoirs. Check out the bio on Doreen Cronin, who also authored Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type.

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson
This Thanksgiving Day twist on the familiar rhyming song "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" is preposterous, but that's what makes it so much fun to read aloud. The repetition and wordplay invite students to join right in with the storytelling. Whimsical illustrations depict the old lady feasting on a long list of favorite holiday foods and growing progressively bigger until she becomes a billowy balloon in a Thanksgiving Day parade.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson
A captivating and cleverly told story about Sarah Hale, the activist magazine editor who worked like a "superhero" to have Thanksgiving officially declared a national holiday. After almost 40 years of writing to presidents, politicians, and readers, this "bold, brave, stubborn and smart lady" got President Abraham Lincoln to pay attention to her pleas. In 1863, Thanksgiving became a national November tradition. Detailed caricature-type illustrations add a humorous touch. Historic facts presented at the end of the book make it easy to connect to lessons about the Pilgrims, the Civil War, American life in the 19th century, and women's history. Be sure to share this fun fact: When she was a teacher, Sarah Hale wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb" about one of her students.

Milly and the Macy's Parade by Shana Corey
Told through the eyes of Milly, an exuberant immigrant girl from Poland, this warm-hearted story offers a take on how the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade got its start. When Milly realizes how much her father and the other Macy's workers on the loading dock miss the festive holiday celebrations of their homelands, she heads for the up elevator to tell Mr. Macy her "marvelous idea" for a big parade. He agrees, and a great American tradition is born. That first parade was held in 1924 and included 1,000 Macy's employees, many of whom were immigrants, as well as bands, floats, and 25 animals from the Central Park Zoo. This Scholastic Activity Set offers lesson ideas, an illustrated book report maker, and printables to extend learning and enjoyment. Author Shana Corey also offers tips on the writing process.

Grades 3–5

So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George
Celebrate the election of a new president with this humorous, informative, and colorful romp through the presidency. Instead of traditional biographical blurbs on each president, this 2001 Caldecott Award-winner points out amusing information on past presidents — none of them were bald, eight were born in log cabins, six were named James, and many were musical. The end result is a story that shows that Americans with many different personalities, life experiences, talents, interests, and physical characteristics have become president. A great way to liven up lessons about presidential history, the election process, and the 2008 campaign.

The Kid Who Ran for President by Dan Gutman
Another great way to excite kids in the election process. Twelve-year-old Lane Brainard thinks his best friend Judson Moon has just what it takes to be president — "You make 'em laugh. You put 'em at ease. You've got a good presidential name." A presidential campaign is born. Despite the unrealistic premise, there's a lot of educational material in this gem of a book and lots of laughs and satire, too. Check out the sequel, The Kid Who Became President, and learn about how author Dan Gutman started writing for children.

First Kids: The True Stories of All the Presidents' Children by Noah McCullough
With a new first family headed for the White House in January, student interest in what it's like to live there and be the son or daughter of the president couldn't be higher. Teen reporter Noah McCullough, who plans on being president in 2032, explores the lives of first kids, even first grandkids, from George Washington to George W. Bush, in this fact-filled jaunt through American history.

. . . If You Sailed the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern
The question-and-answer approach and simple, but entertaining information makes it easy to teach students about the Pilgrims' voyage on the Mayflower, their life in Plymouth, and the first Thanksgiving. This book is a part of Scholastic's successful "If You . . . " history series that also includes If You Were at . . . the First Thanksgiving, If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution, If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon, and many more.

  • Subjects:
    Literature, Literature Appreciation, Animals, Elections and Voting, The Presidency, Thanksgiving, Theme Days, Weeks, Months, New Teacher Resources, Teacher Tips and Strategies
top

New Teacher Survival Guide

Find practical and easy-to-use tips, solutions, and advice to help make your first year in the classroom a success.