One-Minute Book Reviews

November 18, 2007

Good Picture Books About Thanksgiving for Children Ages 4 and Up

Popular authors show how Pilgrim boys and girls — and their parents — lived

By Janice Harayda

A lot of families must have given thanks for The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving (Scholastic, $4.99, paperback, ages 4–8), because this lively picture book is still selling well on Amazon and elsewhere after more than three decades in print. And no wonder. This may the best book for anyone who is looking for a traditional Thanksgiving story that touches all the familiar bases – the voyage of the Mayflower, the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, the help the settlers received from Squanto, and the feast that marked the successful harvest of 1621.

Ann McGovern tells an engaging story salted with details easy for children to grasp. The Mayflower was “as big as two trucks,” and its passengers had little tableware after they went ashore: “There were no forks. The Pilgrims used shells for spoons.” And unlike some recent books that expunge all references to the early settlers’ faith, McGovern makes clear in a low-keyed way that this is partly a story of religious freedom: The Pilgrims, she says, “left their old country because they could not pray the way they wanted.” Elroy Freem, the pen name of a veteran picture-book artist, illustrates the book with warm tones that help to make this an upbeat story despite hardships of life in the Plymouth Colony.

Kate Waters takes a more contemporary approach in her deservedly popular Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl, Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy and Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times (Scholastic, about $5.99 each, paperback, ages 4 and up) In these appealing books she uses documentary-style color photographs to describes the lives of a Pilgrim girl and boy and a Native American boy of their era.

Waters’s books about Pilgrim times are popular in schools, particularly in the second and third grades, so by searching the Web you can find teachers’ guides with related activities you can adapt at home. Their stories have a natural appeal this week, but don’t forget them next year when you want to get children excited about a trip to a historical museum or village.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. […] November 19, 2007 Filed under: Uncategorized — mrschu81 @ 6:37 am Check out Good Picture Books About Thanksgiving for Children Ages 4 and Up « One-Minute Book Reviews […]

    Pingback by Good Picture Books About Thanksgiving for Children Ages 4 and Up « One-Minute Book Reviews « Schu’s Blog of Lit and More — November 18, 2007 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  2. My favorite Thanksgiving book to share around Thanksgiving is Thank you, Sarah Hale! The Woman who Saved Thanksgiving. It’s written by Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of Speak. I actually shared it with my students today and everyone wanted to know more about Sarah. We rushed to the Internet superhighway and soaked up more informaiton.

    I quizzed a former student in the hallway today about Sarah Hale and he remembered EVERYTHING about her. You can check out my post and the book’s description at

    Comment by mrschu81 — November 19, 2007 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks, Mr. Schu. I’d just like to add that you those students who enjoyed “Thank you, Sarah Hale!” today were third graders. This book is definitely on my list to check out next year …

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — November 19, 2007 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

  4. Oh, yes! I teach third grade. My students manage our classroom wiki. One of the sections is “Books We’ve Read.” I just checked the wiki and one of my third graders posted this about Thank you, Sarah…

    This book is about Sarah Hale who tries and tries to save Thanksgiving and never gives up.She waits thirty eight years for the president to say yes for a holiday that everybody can celebrate together. The President who finally said yes was A. Lincoln.The book is a nonfiction book. Sarah Hale wrote over fifty books!Her best selling nursery rhyme was Mary had a Little Lamb. I think you have to be genius to write a book that everybody has and remembers the song!

    Comment by mrschu81 — November 20, 2007 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  5. Mr. Schu: I love your student’s comment. It packs a lot of information into a few sentences while also expressing a strong opinion.

    One of my complaints about many book reviews by adults is that they either a) give you a lot of plot summary or other information but don’t express a clear opinion or b) they express a clear opinion but don’t give enough information about the book for you to have a context for the critic’s view. On that level, I’d say your third grader did better than many adults …

    Thanks so much for posting your student’s comment. “Thank you, Sarah” seem popular in my town, too, because I just tried to get it from my library. The library has a few copies, but they’re all checked out.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — November 20, 2007 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

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