Just about every home school parent in the U.S. is covering the history of Thanksgiving in some way this month, and we are as well here in the Reading Room. As part of the research and preparation for our 2nd and 3rd grade co-op class I ran across a new-to-me book in addition to re-reading an old favorite.
The Thanksgiving Story, by Alice Dangliesh, was originally published in 1954 and yet somehow, I’d never heard of it. It tells the familiar story of the voyage across the Atlantic which the pilgrims made in 1620.
However, unlike most children’s books it is historical fiction which explores relevant details that school children rarely hear. For example, the fact that the original voyage began with two ships, The Speedwell and The Mayflower. The Speedwell began taking on water, had to turn back, and the passengers from that ship were packed into The Mayflower for the voyage to Virginia which ended up being a voyage to Massachusetts. The book is also a Caldecott Medal winning book, something I often lean toward in my searches, as I think the art is as much a part of a story as the text.
From there the book goes on to describes the hardships, God’s gracious hand of protection, the tragedies of the 66 day voyage, and the events which led up to the first Thanksgiving celebration.
Squanto and The Miracle of Thanksgiving, originally published in 1996, is a great story about Squanto’s amazing journey which could have only been orchestrated by Divine order. The Indian Squanto was sold to Spanish monks as a young boy, and later moved to England. There he was taught the English language and the tenets of the Christian faith before being sent back home to America 10 years later. The rest as they say, is history. You should read it with your kids if you haven’t. The Thanksgiving story will take on a new meaning. The turkey and pumpkin will (one hopes) forever be a secondary consideration as they observe the Thanksgiving celebration.
Hopefully, if it’s not too late, you can find these two good reads in your local library.
*These are books for elementary aged children. If you have recommendations for Thanksgiving books for older children or have other ideas, you can add them in the comments.
Edited to add: Here is a really fun Mayflower video for kids also. A friend of mine found it on history.com