Thanksgiving is a wonderful story from American history. One of the few truly American holidays.
From the early tellings from childhood complete with construction paper hats and headdresses to later appreciation for the fuller story of American colonization, there are living books to help you tell the tale of the first Thanksgiving.
Check out these favorite Thanksgiving living books for all ages.
This Caldecott winner is a beautiful picture book that tells the story of the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving through the eyes of Giles, Constance and Damaris Hopkins, who were passengers on the boat. Good for littles and elementary.
This modern telling of the Thanksgiving story by Eric Metaxas (author of Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther biographies) reveals the spiritual and historical roots of the story to show God’s role in the miracle of Thanksgiving. This picture books is perfect for young ones and elementary students (or really anyone!)
This classic easy-to-read chapter book is a good introduction to the story of the first Thanksgiving and Squanto. Great for elementary.
The Landing of the Pilgrims recounts the life of William Bradford and the Separatists who become the Pilgrims after leaving England for religious freedom. Drawing on their journals, it is very informative in learning more about the life of the Pilgrims and how they came to sail the sea in search of a new life. This Landmark Book is on the Ambleside Online curriculum for older elementary.
Of Plymouth Plantation is a fascinating history of seventeenth century colonial America as recorded by William Bradford. It takes the reader on a year-by-year journey through the highs and lows of the colony from before it began in 1608 through to 1646. The version linked above is edited to make it more understandable to modern readers, but you can also find original text versions free online.
Good primary source document for middle and high school.
The Mayflower and The Pilgrim’s New World by Nathaniel Philbrick
(Young Reader’s Edition)
Nathaniel Philbrick has written a number of exciting and informative history books in recent years. His New York Times best-selling Mayflower has been revised for young readers in this version. Older students may prefer the original.
This book goes beyond the first Thanksgiving to explore the first 50 years of the colony and the future strife between natives and the Pilgrims culminating in a war that almost destroys them all. As a result, this book gives a broader picture of the story of the first Thanksgiving for middle and high school students.
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