10 Best Thanksgiving Read Alouds

The holidays are such a magical time in the elementary classroom. The excitement, the busyness, the crafts, the fun games,  and the anticipation of a much-needed school break make holidays such as Thanksgiving so fun! Grab our 10 Best Thanksgiving Read Alouds Virtual Library now and enjoy your holidays even more.

I love to take the opportunity to read lots of picture books during this time of the year. Whether students are intently listening on the classroom rug, or coloring or completing a craft, a read-aloud picture book is just the calm in the chaos of the holiday season.

We have put together 10 Best Thanksgiving Read Alouds for you! Want to make your life even easier, grab our virtual library today and sip your coffee at your desk while your students enjoy their Thanksgiving Virtual Read Alouds until the madness begins again!

The Very Stuffed Turkey by Katharine Kenah

Publisher’s Synopsis: A Thanksgiving story featuring a large turkey with a big problem…he’s been invited to EVERYONE’S home for dinner! With five homes to visit — Horse’s, Pig’s, Sheep and Goat’s, Cow’s, and Mouse’s –Turkey knows there’ll be a ton of food to eat. But there’ll also be friends and their families who can’t wait to celebrate the holiday with Turkey! Can this very plump bird make it through every meal without bursting? A silly, read-aloud story featuring food, friends, and one hilarious turkey!

Run Turkey Run by Diane Mayr

The repetition of this book is perfect for students to read aloud with you and practice their fluency!

Publisher’s Synopsis: The perfect picture book for the holiday, this hilarious twist on the traditional Thanksgiving feast features Turkey as he hops from hiding place to hiding place to avoid ending up as the main course. With Thanksgiving only one day away, can Turkey find a place to hide from the farmer who’s looking for a plump bird for his family feast? Maybe he can hide with the pigs . . . or the ducks . . . or the horses . . .Uh-oh! Here comes the farmer! Run, Turkey, run!

Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Aldurf

The illustrations are so beautiful in this picture book. It may inspire your students to color or paint a beautiful fall scene! It is heartwarming and inspiring. It shows that family is the center of the holidays. 

Publisher’s Synopsis: Every year a family and their friends gather in the woods to celebrate Thanksgiving among the trees. Everyone brings something to share and the day becomes a long celebration of family, faith, and friendship. Told in a gentle, lyrical style, this picture book includes warm illustrations of people gathered around bonfires and long tables adorned with candles and food, singing songs and sharing laughter. Thanksgiving in the Woods is based on the true story of a family in Upstate New York who has hosted an outdoor Thanksgiving feast in the woods on their farm for over twenty years.

Thanksgiving Rules by Laurie Friedman

Publisher’s Synopsis: Percy Isaac Gifford’s Official Thanksgiving Decree: I officially command you to eat EVERYTHING you see! Percy knows just what to do to get the most out of this delicious holiday. And so will you if you follow his ten simple rules. From “the early bird gets the turkey” to “life is sweeter when you eat sweets,” his rules will help you eat your way through the big meal. But is there more to Thanksgiving than stuffed turkey and sweet potatoes with marshmallows? See how Percy discovers the true recipe for a perfect Thanksgiving holiday.

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

This narrative poetry book follows along the same pattern as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. We have a unit to teach narrative poetry using this book. Check it out here!

Publisher’s Synopsis: From Dav Pilkey, creator of the New York Times bestselling Dog Man and Captain Underpants series, comes a charming story about eight children and eight turkeys on the night before Thanksgiving. On the day before Thanksgiving, a group of children visit a turkey farm and meet Farmer Mack Nuggett and his coop of cockerels: Ollie, Stanley, Larry, Moe, Wally, Beaver, Shemp, and Groucho. The children and turkeys giggle and gobble, and everything is gravy. As the trip comes to an end, the children leave the farm with full hearts — and bulging bellies — reminding people and poultry alike that there is much to be thankful for. This hysterical read-aloud and fan-favorite picture book is now available for the first time in a paper-over-board format!

How to Catch a Turkey by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton

Publisher’s Synopsis: A turkey is running loose in a school right before a Thanksgiving play. Can YOU help catch it so the show can go on? Follow along as students turn their school upside down trying to catch the turkey, ending with a twist that ensures no turkeys are harmed (or eaten!). This hilariously zany children’s picture book combines STEAM concepts and traps with a silly story and fun illustrations, perfect for starting a new fall family tradition this autumn or giving as a Thanksgiving gift for kids ages 4 and up! Thanksgiving time is here again, but there’s a turkey on the run! Can you catch this tricky bird before the school play has begun?

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Publisher’s Synopsis: Meet the master puppeteer who invented the first balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Melissa Sweet brings to life the inspirational story of the puppeteer who invented the giant balloons floating in the sky during the annual parade celebrating Thanksgiving. The Caldecott Honor artist brilliantly captures the essence of Tony Sarg, a self-taught immigrant with a fascinating imagination. The collage illustrations coupled with Sweet’s storytelling portray Sarg’s joy in his childhood inventions and his ingenious balloon creations that still bring delight to viewers around the country. This nonfiction illustrated book will capture the hearts of all ages.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting

This book is beautifully illustrated and tells an adorable and quaint story. 

Publisher’s Synopsis: Mr. and Mrs. Moose invite all their animal friends for Thanksgiving dinner and the only one missing is Turkey. When they set out to find him, Turkey is quaking with fear because he doesn’t realize that his hosts want him at their table, not on it.

Dino Thanksgiving by Lisa Wheeler

Publisher’s Synopsis: Follow along as dinos travel over the river and through the woods to join together with family. They enjoy favorite activities, including a corn maze, a televised parade with giant balloon creations, and of course a football game! The dinos share in not one but two feasts – one for the carnivores and another for the veggie-saurs. Join in the fun as the dinos find much to be thankful for on this special holiday!

I Am Thankful by Sheri Wall

This is a wonderful book that reminds us to be grateful: the reason for Thanksgiving!

Publisher’s Synopsis: Thanksgiving books for kids teach us about coming together with our loved ones and to give thanks for all that we have. I Am Thankful is an adorable, rhyming storybook that follows three different families as they celebrate the holiday with their own traditions, acts of kindness, and ways of giving back. Kids will learn how to be thankful for the people and world around them as they delight in the sweet illustrations that show diverse families and exciting Thanksgiving adventures. This heartfelt, poetic story will show young ones the meaning of giving and sharing.

Conclusion

We hope your students will enjoy these picture books, from a funny one like How to Catch a Turkey to an educational one like Balloons Over Broadway. These books will not only entertain your kiddos, but it will warm their hearts with the reason behind the season, with the stories of I Am Thankful and Thanksgiving in the Woods. Even though holidays in the classroom can be chaotic, remember to sit back and enjoy the magic with your students!

Author of Blog

Teaching Descriptive Poetry in November

November is the perfect backdrop for poetry. With the constantly changing leaves that fall like snow, the dark and dreary smoke wisp clouds, and colorful foliage peppering the grey-green lawn, there are so many inspirational scenes to use for teaching descriptive poetry in November.

April is National Poetry month and what an exquisite time to usher in the genre of literature with the stage of spring, but fall in November is just as wonderful of a time to write poetry! From describing the fall scenery to describing what students are thankful for, to even tasking your class to describe a Thanksgiving dish, there are boundless opportunities for descriptive poetry.

Descriptive poetry does not necessarily tell a story like a narrative poem. This type of writing is meant to create vivid imagery in a reader’s mind. Descriptive poetry has certain key ingredients that students can utilize when writing a wonderful fall poem. Just like there are specific ingredients for pumpkin pie, there are certain ingredients to make up a well-rounded and well-written descriptive poem!

Key Ingredients:

  • Specific Word Choice
  • Adjectives
  • Figurative Language (Similes, Metaphors, Personification, Onomatopoeia, etc.) 
  • Imagery
  • Sensory Words

Step 1: Read Poems for Teaching Descriptive Poetry

When teaching descriptive poetry, the first step is for students to be inspired by authentic poems and to learn to recognize the key ingredients within those poems. (Having a healthy knowledge of the key ingredients first is crucial, of course. Check out our spooky figurative language activity to teach this key component.

Grab yours today!

It is best to read a poem multiple times with students. On the first reading, students take in the description the author is conveying and they can visualize the scene. On a second reading, with the teacher’s help, students can dissect the various adjectives and figurative language throughout the poem. They can circle the words that evoke vivid images and the specific word choice that shows the various five senses. Work together to find how the author showed fall instead of just telling about it. Ask your students: “How did the writer show us it was chilly instead of telling us it was cold outside?”

These autumn poems act as a mentor text to help students understand how to write a descriptive poem.

Here are some wonderful examples of descriptive fall poetry that can inspire students. Perfect for your students to read, color, and place in their notebooks. Click on the link below for 4 Autumn Descriptive Poems. 

Grab your FREEBIE Google Slides today!

Step 2: Prewriting

Once students have been able to read other fall poems and become motivated by the important components of descriptive poetry, I encourage students to get out in nature to observe and write about the fall season, if that is the topic of their poem. 

Just by getting outside and smelling the crisp air, watching the cascading leaves, and feeling the cool breeze, students will feel energized to write that descriptive fall poem.

Encourage your students to take a journal to write down whatever they see, smell, hear, and feel. By taking students outside, they may be able to include specific details in their writing instead of just remembering what fall is like from the inside of a classroom. 

As they observe and take descriptive notes, they can utilize that information to help them write their poems.

If students are describing what they are thankful for, have them make a list of all the aspects of the thing that they are focusing on or the many ideas/elements of life they are grateful for. Making a collage on Canva, a Pinterest board, or a physical collage with printed images of what they are thankful for helps them focus before they start writing the descriptive poem. 

If students are describing a Thanksgiving dish, have them look up images online, go home and taste that item, and do any research they can to fully describe it. Students focus on all the senses when it comes to that dish, not just the taste sense. Challenge students to use figurative language to make comparisons. Their favorite Thanksgiving dish of sweet potato casserole would have marshmallows as fluffy as clouds. Their favorite apple pie can taste like a symphony of cinnamon. 

Step 3: Write Poem

I have found it crucial to give students specific guidelines to help them write a wonderfully descriptive fall poem. When guidance isn’t given, I receive 3-line poems with 2 adjectives, and we don’t want that.

The guidelines I give students allow for creativity and freedom but it allows them to see a template as to what works best for a descriptive poem.

Guidelines:

  • 10 lines or more
  • Can be Unrhymed or rhymed
  • 1 or more metaphors
  • 1 or more similes
  • 1 or more personifications
  • 1 or more onomatopoeias
  • 1 or more alliterations
  • 3 Sensory Words
  • 5 Adjectives
  • Showing & Not Telling

Step 4: Revise and Edit

When students have finished their poems, I like to meet with them. First, we go over the guidelines. That’s when flexibility comes in. If their poem didn’t have exactly five adjectives but still did a wonderful job utilizing similes and metaphors and sensory words, then that’s okay. I express that to them. The guidelines are there as a template, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a descriptive poem needs all of those elements all the time. In fact, the poems we read, to begin with, did not even do that. 

Step 5: Publish, Illustrate, & Display

Illustrate and display! Descriptive poems should convey images in the reader’s mind of the fall season, so what better thing to do but illustrate what the writer is showing? I’ve had students complete watercolors of their fall poetry scenery. Students can simply draw and color what they wrote about, or even piece a collage together. Students can create a poster on Canva that shows what they articulated in their poems.

When I taught elementary school, I had a big tree display on my wall. It was our “Poe-Tree.” I would change the leaves on it depending on the season and place the students’ poems on the branches. By creating a “Poe-Tree,” and displaying students’ poems, the rest of the class can read them and become inspired too.

Our Gather Fall Bulletin Board Kit is also a perfect backdrop to display any Thanksgiving thankfulness poems or any other descriptive poems they write.

Conclusion

Just like a perfect slice of pumpkin pie, a descriptive poem contains certain ingredients to help make it all come together beautifully. This November is a wonderful time to teach descriptive poetry. Challenge your students to describe the scenery, what they’re grateful for, or a delicious dish. The fall is just as great a time to teach poetry as the spring. It may even become your favorite time to do so!

Author of Blog

The Dark by Lemony Snicket Book Review

The month of October is upon us. We are fully into our lessons, teaching reading comprehension, how to write better sentences, paragraphs, research projects, etc. However, our students seem to have one thing on their mind and that is also that it is the month of Halloween. With this, I wanted to share The Dark by Lemony Snicket book review to give you something to help make it through this month.

Several times in the past week my students interrupted me in the middle of a lesson by raising their hand. Quickly, I smile because there is someone who is paying attention and wants to know more of the wonderous lesson I am teaching. Then I hear the magical words, “Is Halloween on a Monday or Friday?” 

So why should I fight this month and all of its pitfalls, but instead just embrace it? With this, I have chosen a quick and simple book that works so well with grades 4th through 7th. Our students may feel a childish picture book is beneath them. Nevertheless, I quickly inform my students that the same author of The Dark also wrote everyone’s favorite book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events. Once I say that, their ears perk up, and they want to know more.

Not only is The Dark a fun story to share, but it is also full of examples of personification, primal fear, and a deep need to conquer evil. Plus, it is adorable for your older students to remember their childhood when everything was so fearful during October, especially the dark.

The Dark is about a young lad named Lazslo, who is terrified of the dark. He avoids “the dark” as it mainly hangs out in the basement. Then, one night “the dark” is in his room as his nightlight bulb loses its spark. Lazslo, the young lad, must come face-to-face with his fears of “the dark,” while Lemony Snicket personifies “the dark” into a friendly being. This book contains a plethora of personification examples. 

Personification Examples

Personification is when something other than a human is given human characteristics in a story, paragraph, or sentence.

Examples:

The moon winked at the owl when the dark clouds wandered past. 

In this sentence, the moon winked at the owl. Of course, the moon can’t wink because it is definitely an inanimate object. As well, clouds can’t wander. Wandering is when one walks or moves in a leisurely, casual, or aimless way. Clouds may seem like they wander, but of course they too are inanimate objects that float or travel where the wind moves them.

Another example is from Patricia MacLachlan’s book, My Friend Earth.

“Under the white, the silent seed is cradled in the dark soil. Watching.

In this beautifully constructed sentence, one envisions a seed cradled in the dark by the earth’s soil as if the earth were its mother, gently clutching its child.

The last example is from The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.

“And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy.”

Yes. These books were originally written for children. However, until older students journey back and study the writing techniques of these magnificent writers, these books haven’t been fully appreciated as they should. 

As C. S. Lewis said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” With that, I totally agree.

Author: Lemony Snicket, “The Dark

Lemony Snicket is a pseudonym for the writer, Daniel Handler. He was born on February 28, 1970, in California. He is married to a book illustrator, and they have one child named, Otto. Lemony Snicket is best known for his novel series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, which was made into a movie by Nickelodeon and a television show on Netflix. 

Daniel Handler graduated with a B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1992. He has always loved to read. One of his favorite authors was Roald Dahl, writer of James and the Giant Peach. Daniel Handler has published several books for adults as well. He is a seasoned accordion player and has played in a couple of bands.

Daniel Handler created the author Lemony Snicket as a type of additional character in his A Series of Unfortunate Events novels. Lemony Snicket breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience, using a rare 2nd person point of view. He regularly explains difficult vocabulary, foreshadows events, and directly interacts with the audience based on the story. Lemony Snicket does not do this in The Dark, something he is known for. One of the funniest clips of Lemony Snicket explaining is below. If only he had created more for all of figurative language.

The Dark was the winner of the Annual Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing of a picture book writing in 2014. The Charlotte Zolotow Award is awarded annually to the best picture book of the year. The picture book must be published in the United States. The Charlotte Zolotow Award is awarded by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a children’s literature library of the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Illustrator: Jon Klassen, “The Dark

Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen illustrated The Dark. Jon Klassen is a Canadian writer and illustrator of children’s books. In 2011, the book, I Want My Hat Back, won the American 2013 Caldecott Medal and the English equivalent, Kate Greenaway Medal. The Dark made history an illustrator won both awards for the same book in the same year.

Another connection for your students is the fact that Klassen is an animator. His animations appear in the movies, Kung Fu Panda and the spine tingler, Coraline. I am sure just telling your students that bit of information would definitely peak their interest.

Klassen was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and raised in the Niagara Falls area. Klassen studied animation at Sheridan College. Later, he moved to Los Angeles after graduation. Please visit his website for examples of his work. I am sure your budding artist would love to see what he has accomplished.

The illustrations in The Dark takes us along on a journey of following a young lad through his enormous old house. As we follow along, we see the surroundings of the home through the boy’s viewpoint. By seeing the dark through his viewpoint, we see it as he sees it. Shadows around every corner, dark stairs leading to the basement, and the dark waiting for him at every turn.

To enhance this book, you may talk with your students of the importance of illustrations. Illustrations play a huge part of setting the mood of a story. Light and shadow is definitely one thing that Klassen did an excellent job with.

To read more about creating the mood of a story with illustrations, please visit…

The Dark by Lemony Snicket Activities, Personification, and Writing Project

Our activities will take you from beginning to the end with the reading of Lemony Snicket’s Award Winning story, The Dark, to thoroughly teaching your students all about personifications by helping them create their own story concentrating on this important figurative language element. These activities will give your students perfect examples and activities using personification and how to use this figurative language element in their writing through our activities, graphic organizers, and writing project.

Conclusion

If you want to grab your student’s attention this October, and you want to excite them about writing as well, please grab a copy of The Dark. Written by the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events and illustrated by one of the animators of the movie Coraline, it is sure to grab their attention. In addition, they will be immersed in the element of personification in a whole new spooky way.

Author of Blog

Want more? Click over to our other blog post, How to Teach Writing with Lemony Snicket.