During the month of November I intentionally share books highlighting the story of Thanksgiving with my children. On a table the books are displayed for leisurely perusing during free time. In the afternoon, during the week, we sit together to read through one of the books, several of which only take a few minutes. No matter their age, it is important to remind my children of the courage of the Pilgrims, Indians, and the hand of God upon them all.
Over the years from used book sales, yard sales, and online sales (notice the word sales) my family’s little stack of Thanksgiving books has grown. When presented with a list of books I think would be good to purchase, I save the list (or email) to a file called Book List. Even from my phone, I can access my Book List when at book sales. I share this because the following books are linked to our affiliate, Amazon.com for your convenience. However, you may want to save the email to your own book list and look other places too.
Here are a few of our favorite Thanksgiving books for family reading:
The Pilgrims by Anne Miranda
Sharing the journey and first year experienced by the Pilgrims, elementary students will enjoy this book. Amongst various drawings, readers will find actual photographs from Plimoth Plantation living museum to bring actual events to life.
Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters
This is one of my children’s favorites as it uses photos taken at Plimoth Plantation instead of pencil drawings as found in many books. Readers follow Sarah throughout her daily chores from daylight to dusk. There is a companion version available called Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy.
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
A beautifully illustrated book beginning with Squanto as a young boy, his kidnapping, being raised by monks, returning to his village, and ultimately befriending of the Pilgrims. Metaxas points out the hand of God throughout Squanto’s story. I love the final sentence of the book, “Hallelujah! Who but the glorious God of heaven could so miraculously weave together the wandering lives of a lonely Patuxet brave and a struggling band of English Pilgrims in such a way that would bless the whole world for centuries to come?”
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
Excellent for second and third graders to read on their own, it is also good for a family to read aloud. While gentle in regards to the subject matter of kidnapping, it is clear on the sadness and harm inflicted upon Squanto by evil men. My boys enjoyed reading about Squanto from his point of view.
Almost Home by Wendy Lawton
Based on the true story of 13-year-old Mary Chilton, readers follow her journey from Holland to the New World aboard the Mayflower. Fluent elementary and up readers will find this book engaging while families of all ages will enjoy it as a read aloud. My boys enjoyed the description of life aboard a ship at sea and found names chosen for children curious. As a parent, I often wiped away tears as I read to my children about Mary’s struggle with leaving all she knew behind, dealing with death and her questions to God, and His providence. While centuries apart, Mary’s story reminds readers of any century that God is always in control.
The Thanksgiving Primer: A Complete Guide to Re-creating the First Harvest Festival for Your Family, Friends or Church by Plimoth Plantation
Put together by the research and education department at Plimoth Plantation, this is an excellent history source on all things Thanksgiving. From the menu with recipes of the Pilgrims, first source documents describing aspects of the Pilgrim story, a re-creation of the Separatist church service, even manners and games, this books is brimming with information. It’s not a book I sit down and read cover-to-cover with my children, but we often pick one topic and delve deeper. The book is filled with artist drawings and photographs shot on location at Plimoth Plantation.
The Light and the Glory for Children by Peter Marshall and David Manuel
Every year during November I read chapters five and six from the The Light and the Glory for Children to my children. What I appreciate is the author’s time spent on explaining Leyden, Holland and the influence it had on the decision making of the Pilgrims. Most children and adults when asked where the Pilgrims came from will answer England. This is actually wrong as they decided to travel to the New World from Holland. The story in Leyden is rich and gives a deeper understanding of the Pilgrims. This book is excellent for read aloud and for middle-school readers.
The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel
I read this book years ago and even then was impressed with the bounty of details regarding North America. Beginning with Christopher Columbus and ending shortly after George Washington becomes President, this books spans a wide time period. Filled with footnotes to other works, it is an excellent read for any high-schooler and up.
Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving books?