This book is an easy-to-follow story, even for children, but I also have a couple of recommendations for children’s picture books:
|Three Young Pilgrims
By Cheryl Harness / Aladdin
When Bartholemew, Remember, and Mary Allerton and their parents first step down from the Mayflower after sixty days at sea, they never dream that life in the New World will be so hard. Many in their Plymouth colony won’t make it through the winter, and the colony’s first harvest is possible only with the help of two friends, Samoset and Squanto. Richly detailed paintings show how the pilgrims lived after landing at Plymouth, through the dark winter and into the busy days of spring, summer, and fall. Culminating with the excitement of the original Thanksgiving feast, Three Young Pilgrims makes history come alive. Recommended for ages 5 to 10.
By Margaret Pumphrey / Beautiful Feet Books
Pilgrim Stories was originally written in the early 1900s for the purpose of encouraging student interest in the lives of the Pilgrims; it has been newly edited and expanded to include a horizontal history of the world of the Pilgrims of the early 17th century. Drawing upon a number of primary sources, including William Bradford’s Diary, Of Plimoth Plantation, and Good Newes from New England, these edited stories are presented through the eyes of the children who were there. A narrative of faith, courage, and joy, this engaging living book will draw children into the events of the past. 182 pages, softcover. Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.
|Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day In The Life Of A Pilgrim Girl
By Kate Waters / Scholastic Trade
See what a day in the life of 9-year-old Pilgrim Sarah Morton was like! A classic Thanksgiving book, photographs of Plimoth Plantation interpreters show the chores, games, education, garments, and lifestyle of 1627 alongside the story of Sarah’s friendship with her friend Elizabeth and her family’s life with a new stepfather. 32 pages with glossary, softcover.
|William Bradford: Pilgrim Boy
By Bradford Smith / Beautiful Feet Books
Young and old alike will enjoy this thoroughly researched and personable biography of the first governer of Plimouth Plantation. Read about Bradford’s difficult childhood in England and see how he was being prepared by hardship and los to face the challenges of his adult life. 200 pages, softcover.
|Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving
By Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Greg Shed / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
In 1620 an English ship called the Mayflower landed on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket, and it was Squanto who welcomed the newcomers and taught them how to survive. When a good harvest was gathered, the people feasted together–a tradition that continues almost four hundred years later. 32 pages. Grades K-3.
The author of Miles Standish, the Puritan Captain quoted heavily from original sources. Most of these are available still today! They are well worth preserving in print form to keep our history alive.
- Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford (book)
- Mourt’s Relation
|1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
By Catherine O’Neill / Simon & Schuster
In cooperation with the Plimoth Plantation, a living-history museum in Massachusetts, National Geographic has recreated the first Thanksgiving. Photographs by National Geographic photographers of the recreation at Plimoth Plantation illustrate this book.
In 1621, in a small settlement on the edge of the sea, 52 English colonists celebrated their first harvest. The colonists were joined by 90 men of the Wampanoag tribe for a gathering that was to last three days in a town now known as Plymouth. Over the centuries, there have been countless versions of this story, creating a popular myth of the first Thanksgiving. Many Americans imagine brave, peaceful settlers inviting a few wild Indians over for a turkey dinner. But there was no pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce at this celebration. There were no Indians with woven blankets over their shoulders and large feathered headdresses. No pilgrims with somber black clothes and silver buckle hats either. The English didn’t even call themselves Pilgrims.
This book puts aside that myth and takes a new look at our American history. It questions what we know and recovers lost voices of the Wampanoag people. True history includes the voices of all its participants. 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving invites young people to read, listen, and think about our shared history. The book also features a foreword, a section on the actual reenactment and the concept of living history, a chronology, an index, and a bibliography.
For a round-up of activities and printables related to this book, see my Pinterest board here.
Take a visual tour of the village of Scrooby in Nottinghamshire
- See a replica of the Mayflower in person
- Here’s a free printable map activity of the Mayflower voyage
- Make a Mayflower craft with your younger kids
- Learn to draw the Mayflower
- If you’re near Cape Cod, visit “Corn Hill,” where the Pilgrims discovered some lifesaving Indian corn
- Learn a bit about 17th century English armor (like the Pilgrim men would be wearing) in this video:
- If you have a student who is really interested in the weapons and armor, download this free “booklet” about the Arms and Armor of the Pilgrims:
- Listen to the Te Deum here:
Build a popsicle stick fort. Even though this is a “Roman fort,” styles didn’t change much over the centuries.
- Make your own Nokake (Indian corn cakes) with this recipe
- Check out all the activities in this great blog post by the Home School Coach
- Tak a video tour of a Wampanoag homesite:
- Take a virtual field trip to Plymouth Plantation for the First Thansgiving:
Take a tour of Plymouth and Cape Cod as it looks today:
Try some recipes for Thanksgiving with these links:
- Create an Authentic New England Thanksgiving Feast by Marcia Passos Duffy
- The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving
- What Was on the Menu at the First Thanksgiving?
- If you’re interested in more about the history of Boston, Massachusetts, start here.
- Try your hand at wampum crafts here and here
- Read more about the trading post erected by the Pilgrims on the Kennebeck River in Maine
- Read quotes about the smallpox epidemic described in this chapter
- Get some in-depth history of The Pequot War at WorldHistory.org
- See “Captain’s Hill” from across the harbor in this photo on Flickr
- Read a little bit about Uncas, the Mohegan Chief, here
Watch this video about the Miles Standish Monument and Statue: