Make these stories of Thanksgiving history for children part of your family heritage. Stories of the first Thanksgiving are told as well as tales of traditions celebrating this special day. These classic stories have been in print for more than 50 years or are noted otherwise.
More Ideas on Sharing Thanksgiving History with Your Kids at the Bottom of this Page
Classic Thanksgiving Stories For Kids
The Thanksgiving Story
By Alice Dalgliesh
History for Children
Age:1st - 3rd Grade
A beautiful story of the history of Thanksgiving with simple pictures and easy text. This book was published 25 years ago and is a Caldecott Honor book.
Who's That Stepping On Plymouth Rock?
By Jean Fritz
Age: 3rd - 4th grade
The landing of the Pilgrims at one of the most famous monuments in America. Ms. Fritz has an entertaining and informative style of writing.
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims
By Clyde Robert Bulla
Age: 2nd - 5th Grade
Many children are familiar with Squanto, the Native American who helped the Pilgrims of Plymouth survive. This book tells the true and amazing story of how this man - the only Indian on the continent who could speak English - happened to be right there when the Pilgrims needed him. While this is a newer book and not yet a classic, it is an easy read for younger students to learn more about Thanksgiving history.
The Landing of the Pilgrims
4th to 6th grade
This book for upper elementary provides greater detail of Plymouth Plantation than most other books for children. It explains the history in England and Holland before the passage, the first few winters, and more about the different tribes of Indians and who the Pilgrims befriended and who they did not. Readers will also learn about the ship loads of people who came after the first year without bringing supplies. Short quotes from the original works are sprinkled throughout the text. An excellent book for elementary (and older) students who would like more detail of Plymouth and the Mayflower passengers.
The Mayflower Secret
Dave and Neta Jackson
4th to 6th grade
This book in the Trailblazer Series is a little more modern (1998 publication) and follows the story of William Bradford and his first and second wives. It is based on the theory that his first wife, Dorothy, commit suicide - a popular theory in some circles. (There is no direct evidence for this except for the fact that the cause of death is not listed as it is for many of the others.) The main character is Elizabeth Tilley, a girl on the Mayflower whose parents both die the first winter. The actual Thanksgiving celebration is mentioned but not a major event in the book. This is a good book for those who are familiar with Plymouth and would like to read more about the people of the original colony.
Of Plimoth Plantation
By William Bradford
You can't get a more authentic telling of thanksgiving history than this: a reproduction of the journal of William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth. I read this book several years ago, and while it is not entertaining or for young children, it is enlighting as to what the movers and shakers of that great event were thinking.
An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving
By Louisa May Alcott
Age: Read aloud for the entire family
Bad news changes the Thanksgiving plans for Farmer Bassett's family. But then the children decide to take matters into their own hands. From the author of "Little Women" and "Little Men" comes this tale of an "old fashioned Thanksgiving."
Thanksgiving Picture Books
Over the River and Through the Woods
By Lydia Maria Child
We all know the first verse of the beautiful classic Thanksgiving poem by Lydia Maria Child. Read the entire poem of an extended family's Thanksgiving get together.
The Story of the Pilgrims
Reading level: 3rd to 5th Grade
Interest Level: 1st to 5th Grade
Nice pictures and basic text briefly tell the story from the departure from England to the first Thanksgiving.
By Wende and Harry Devlin
The "Cranberry" picture books take place in a 1900 New England village where the retired sailor, Mr. Whiskers, lives. In this story the heroic - but misunderstood - Mr. Whiskers saves Thanksgiving dinner AND a secret family recipe.
Celebrating Thanksgiving With Your Kids
Here is a question we asked everyone at the table before serving the Thanksgiving meal last year:
"To the best of your memory, what were you doing July 22 - or around July 22 - of this year?"
It took some brain racking. Playing in the summer sun; visiting Grandma; trips to our favorite swimming pool. It was a while ago, right?
On July 22, the pilgrims bordered the Mayflower in Plymouth, England and headed for the New World. They reached the shores of New England on November 11.
Everything you have done since July - they couldn't do. They were stuck on a ship.
During that time, 102 passengers (plus the ship's crew) lived on the lower deck of the ship. It was about 5.5 feet high; 80 feet in length, and 25 feet long.
The passengers had to stay below - rarely going on the upper deck.
Compare the size of the Mayflower to your house or yard. Consider all those people living crowded for that length of time.
Pass The Corn
In addition to the name tags people expect to see at the Thanksgiving table, we also had little cups with 13 kernels of corn.
The pilgrims started their Thanksgiving feast with 13 kernels. This was a reminder that that was their daily allowance of food through the final months of that long, hard winter.
Of course, almost half of them died, leaving a little extra for the surviving 53 individuals.
And these are the people who remind us
to be thankful.