Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Preparing for the Season of Preparation

Can you believe that it is already so close to Thanksgiving? We are having both sides of my family here this year, and I am definitely getting into the holiday spirit.

Close on the heels of Thanksgiving will come Advent. I have already ordered Jotham's Journey, to be read after dinner with the lighting of our Advent wreath (supplies yet to be purchased!). I have read such wonderful things about this book (and the other two in the series) and was thrilled to find it back in print.

Today I read a post that fueled my enthusiasm for a meaningful Advent season for our family. Shannon (of Rocks in My Dryer) wrote about her family's Jesse Tree. I am so excited to create this new tradition for our family. I am planning to replace our daily Bible reading in Catherine Vos's A Child's Story Bible with the Jesse Tree devotionals and then let Emily Anne and Will take turns hanging the symbolic ornament. I can't wait to start hunting down and creating the ornaments. I'll post when our collection is complete.

So, what does your family do for Advent?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Great Thanksgiving Read-Alouds

As Thanksgiving approaches, I went on a quest to find some great books that would spark interest in and learning about this American holiday. I used the wonderful tool that is the online libary catalog and reserved many books about Thanksgiving. We read through most of them last week, and I've culled the ones we enjoyed most and have listed them below:

  • This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story by Laura Krauss Melmed is one of our favorites. It has rhyming text and shows 1 sleeping pilgrim, 2 giggling Wamanoag girls, etc., all the way up to 12 tables brimming with food and friends at the Thanksgiving feast. The illustrations are wonderful, and not only do they help the smallest ones to count up to twelve, there are various other things in the illustrations to find and count, including a tricky turkey on each page. We even counted all the pilgrims and Indians on the last page--146!
  • Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation by Diane Stanley is narrated by a brother and sister who are taken back into time by their grandmother to experience the very first Thanksgiving Day. The story line really held the interest of my children, and the book is chock full of interesting details about the way the Pilgrims lived. In addition to the regular text, the illustrations also include those speech balloons (like in cartoons), which were a little awkward to read, but they contained such great tidbits of interesting information, I couldn't skip over them.
  • The First Thanksgiving by Garnet Jackson is a wonderful introduction to the origins of this holiday. This nonfiction book is written in a simple but engaging style with pictures that my children really enjoyed. It is basic, simple, and thorough and would be a great way to start your Thanksgiving read-alouds.
  • Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson was a learning experience for me. This book, with detailed and humorous pictures, tells the story of Sarah Hale, who persistently petitioned politicians and presidents (How's that for alliteration?) over forty years to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Sarah was an interesting woman who raised five children, was an editor of magazines, and the author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." The book contains a nonfiction addendum at the back with more facts on Sarah's life, the history of Thanksgiving, and what life was like in 1863 (the year Thanksgiving became a national holiday). The theme of one person able to make a difference through persistence is something I am glad my children were exposed to in this book.

Happy Reading! Aren't you thankful for good books?