As Thanksgiving approaches, teachers often look for great books to use in their classrooms to teach about the origin of the holiday. Here are some book choices for both the younger and older elementary grade students. These books can be read to students or used as research for Thanksgiving projects and essays.
Early Elementary Book Choices for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks is written by Margaret Sutherland and Sonja Lamut [Grosset and Dunlap Publishing, 2000]. This book has wonderful color pictures and simple text that introduce children to Thanksgiving. This book is a great option for to read-aloud to children who do not read yet and easy for early readers to read themselves.
Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving is written by Ann Mcgovern [Scholastic, 1993]. This is a great book for introducing students to the lives of pilgrim children. Written as if from the perspective of the pilgrim children, young students will be captivated by what life was like back in the 1600s.
…If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 is written by Ann McGovern [Scholastic, 1991]. This book gives students a glimpse into the lives of the children who came to America on the Mayflower. The text is written in question and answer format and has an easy reading style. This is a great way to introduce young children to non-fiction books.
Upper Elementary Book Choices for Thanksgiving
1621: A Look at Thanksgiving is written by Catheine O’Neill Grace. [National Geographic Children’s Books, 2004]. Illustrated with photographs taken during a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving, this book provides engaging and historically accurate pictures of the first Thanksgiving feast. The chapters are short and provide detailed information about how the pilgrims really celebrated Thanksgiving.
Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols is written by Edna Barth [Clarion Books, 2000]. This book provides interesting details about the origin of many of the Thanksgiving traditions that even adults may find interesting. This book is an excellent option for teachers to use as a discussion starter and as a resource for student essays about Thanksgiving.
The use of literature in the classroom is invaluable for teaching students about Thanksgiving. When choosing books for the classroom it is important to read through each one first to be familiar with what information the students will be reading. Encourage students to read about various holidays by providing a variety of options in the classroom library.