Friday, November 22, 2013

Giving Thanks

Can you believe that next week is Thanksgiving? Not only is next Thursday Thanksgiving, but some families will have a second reason to celebrate and give thanks--Hanukkah starts at sundown next Wednesday (if you hear that Hanukkah begins on Thanksgiving, that is incorrect; Jewish holidays and the Jewish Sabbath are always sunset-sunset).  This is an exceptionally rare occurrence that hasn't happened since 1888 (according to several sources; some sources list other dates) and won't happen again until perhaps 79,881! I love learning about cultures and holidays, so I've really enjoyed reading about people's plans to combine the two celebrations (some have called it "Thanksgivukkah"; check out this fun Facebook page and its Twitter feed). When you think about it, both holidays are a celebration and a time for giving thanks for overcoming hardship and struggle by people who were both threatened and persecuted for their beliefs.

I also love learning about anniversaries, so the fact that this is also the 150th anniversary of the official proclamation of Thanksgiving by Abraham Lincoln makes me happy.  We have two excellent books about Sarah Hale, the woman behind making Thanksgiving an official observation: Thank You, Sarah! The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving and Sarah Gives Thanks

You know what also makes me happy? Great children's books on Hanukkah and Thanksgiving! Here are a few of my favorites: 

I'm a huge fan of the Who Was/Who Is series (several patrons are always on the lookout for our latest additions), and I'm excited that it's being expanded to include historical events as well.  Ordering What Was the First Thanksgiving? was a no-brainer; although I haven't read it yet, I trust that it's a kid-friendly and intriguing look at this holiday. 

If you're a regular Kiddosphere reader, you know how much I love National Geographic! The Society's Holidays Around the World series is fantastic; Celebrate Thanksgiving is a great resource for learning more about our holiday, and similar thanksgiving/harvest festivals celebrated in other countries/cultures. Celebrate Hanukkah is equally fine. 

Younger readers/listeners will enjoy Thanksgiving Is...; Gail Gibbons's simple text and bright cartoon illustrations will make learning about Thanksgiving a fun and educational experience. 

I'll admit that the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is corny.  And I always wish that they would showcase the bands and performers more than they showcase the NBC stars. But watching the parade has been a tradition since I was a child; although we don't actually sit down to watch the entire thing, we always keep an eye out for the Broadway performers (making snap decisions on what we would/would not want to see), the Sesame Street float (looking for Gordon, Susan, Maria, and the gang that was on when we watched), and, of course, the Rockettes (will they be dancing soldiers or Santas?). The balloons are also a huge draw, from standbys such as the Lucy and Charlie Brown balloons to new ones premiering for the first time.  Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade tells the story of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer who invented the "upside down" balloons for the parade.  It's a delightful tribute to a little-known man who created one of our lasting holiday impressions. 

It's Hanukkah Time!  is an adorable explanation of Hanukkah traditions, as shown by preschoolers celebrating the holiday.  The victory of the Maccabees is explained, as well as instructions for playing the dreidel game, lighting the menorah, and delicious foods eaten during Hanukkah. 

When I order new holiday books, I'm drawn to books that present the holiday in a unique light. Jeremy's Dreidel features a boy who makes a Braille dreidel for his father.  Not only do we see the children learning about and observing Hanukkah, but we are also treated to a positive and authentic portrayal of an active, involved, and fully employed father who happens to be blind. 

Jane Yolen's How Do Dinosaurs..? series is a fun and funny way to introduce children to appropriate behavior, whether it be at school, at the dinner table, or at a birthday party.  Two holiday titles were published last year; How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? focused on the Festival of Lights, while How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? featured important manners during Christmas. 

Hanukkah: A Counting Book  is ideal for very young children; numbers 1-8 and diecut candles introduce Hanukkah concepts in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish!  Pronunciations are included for the Hebrew and Yiddish words.

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Hanukkah!

(Click the center twice of the video to make it full screen. Here's an article about KSA's video, which includes the lyrics!)

More on "Thanksgivukkah":


Hanukkah (can also be spelled Chanukah):

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

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