Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Happy November and welcome to this month’s edition of Smart Story Time! 

Every month, we curate some of our best recommendations for timely topics to read about with your child, plus diverse picture books (and more) to delve into together. The goal is to give you plenty of ideas to keep your family reading time fresh and introduce your child to new subjects and vocabulary. 

Check out this list, then head out to find some great new-to-you kids’ reads at your local library or independent bookstore. Here’s what we’re reading this month:

Thanksgiving Picture Books

What are you thankful for this year? We know what we’re giving thanks for: the shared joy of story time. When we cuddle up our little ones and enjoy a pile of books together, we make priceless memories to cherish every day. This month, we’re building memories and gratitude by reading thoughtful books about Thanksgiving and the concepts we want it to embody for our families. There are so many aspects of the holiday to explore, from history and inclusiveness to giving thanks, the value of simple time with loved ones, and—of course—cooking.

Think about what matters to you and then seek out some recommendations from your local librarian or bookstore owner. Also try these Thanksgiving picture-book picks from Chrysta Naron (click the link and scroll down to learn more): The Thankful Book by Todd Parr and Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet, plus some wonderful books by and about Indigenous Americans (more on this below!).


Kids’ Books By and About Indigenous Americans

We advocate including books by and about Indigenous Americans in your child’s book rotation all year long, but interest naturally peaks in November. Your child may have questions about the origin of Thanksgiving or the history they’ve heard about in school and elsewhere. The holiday also offers an entry point into the topic for children.

Read this post about how to choose great reads to introduce Indigenous American authors and stories to your little one, and then be sure to scroll down in the post to find recommendations of some excellent books to get you started. Also check out Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac—you’ll find a write-up of this one near the bottom of the Favorite Picture Books for Fall Holidays post

Books to Set the Scene for Fun with Relatives

This time of year often brings a whole bunch of family time, frequently including visits with extended family. Big gatherings and family meals. Going to stay with relatives, or hosting them at our homes. And gathering and reconnecting with loved ones near and far, within and across generations, is a source of great joy. It can also represent an upheaval: sharing space, dealing with differences, and getting along with others, to name a few. Not to mention handling a bunch of extra noise and chaos on the one hand and different rules or expectations on the other.

As with just about any subject under the sun, we believe that sharing a book is among the absolute best ways to broach this topic with your kids. A great story can simultaneously validate children’s feelings while gently helping them see how to resolve, accept, or evolve them. The truly great ones will even help us parents, too. Read this post to get some tips for using picture books to prepare your child for time with extended family, and help tip the scales away from stress and towards joy for your family this holiday season.

And (Always) Books Your Child Loves

In addition to reading books that tackle timely topics or important subjects, be sure to follow your child’s interests, as well. If your kid loves sports, science or animals, read plenty of books on those topics to keep them engaged and help you build a close, responsive relationship. Check out our other kids’ book lists and articles for curated reading lists on various topics.

We’ll be back next month with the next installment of Smart Story Time. Meanwhile, feel free to message Maya with requests for future posts, book recommendations, or just to say hi!

New to MayaSmart.com?

Welcome! It’s lovely to have you here. I’m Maya, an author, literacy advocate, and mom. On this site, I publish articles, advice, book recommendations, and activities for busy parents. Through it all, my goal is to help parents like you feel equipped and confident to support your children in reading. Let’s start by understanding what you bring to the effort—your unique superpower.

Find your raise-a-reader superpower now.

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