Pros: offers kids a good way to think about Thanksgiving and what they are thankful for
Cons: some adults may find it preachy
While there are a lot of children's books in our house celebrating Halloween and Christmas, we don't have very many that mark Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving may be a lot less garish and exciting than the holidays between which it is sandwiched - there are no bright lights, presents, or wild costumes - but it has its own, quieter charm. It's always been one of my favorites; I love the idea of a day dedicated to being thankful for everything I have. I'd like to pass that notion on to my children as well, which is why I like Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland.
The book is not really a story, but rather a reminder of all the things we have to be thankful for. Written from the perspective of multiple unnamed children, the book lists things to be thankful for, along with reasons to be thankful for them. A typical two-page spread reads, "I am thankful for my teacher. She makes me feel special when she hangs my artwork on the wall." Family, friends, teachers, pets, and even simple things like hot chocolate on rainy days are listed. The book ends with thankfulness for special days like Thanksgiving, "when I'm with my whole family and we can all be thankful together."
The characters in this book are all unnamed, but they represent a diverse array of ages, genders, and ethnicities. I like looking through the book and seeing white, Asian, and African-American faces, as well as parents, grandparents, and friends represented. Even pets have a place in the story, although only dogs and cats are represented.
The writing style in this book is quite simple; the sentences are primarily simple statements about things to be thankful for. I read this out loud to my daughter, Julia, this afternoon and it took us less than 5 minutes to get through it, and that was with some minor side discussion about things we ourselves are thankful for. The writing is easy enough that I think that most average readers in second grade or above could also read this to themselves. The biggest words included are "thankful" and "Thanksgiving," although there are a few other tricky words like "special," "lollipop," and "tongue."
The illustrations provided by Sonja Lamut are attractive, muted images of children and families of many different ethnicities in their homes, at school, and outdoors. The pictures look to me as if they were created with watercolor paints. While they are not outstanding by any means, the images provide appropriate images of things that we can be thankful for.
While Julia and I enjoyed reading through this book this afternoon, and it sparked some good discussion of things that we are thankful for, it may not be for everyone. My husband dislikes it because he perceives it as "preachy." For those who are sensitive to being told what they should be thankful for, the text of this book could be grating. Honestly, though, I like it. Sometimes I need these reminders!
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland is a simple book filled with reminders for children of what they can be thankful for during Thanksgiving. It's not flashy, and some people might perceive the text of the book as nagging at them, my kids like it and I enjoy it as well. 4 stars.