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Fiction Writing Prompts for 4th and 5th Graders

by Miriam Downey 29. April 2014 10:36

Author David Baldacci was asked to describe what a kid who wants to be a writer should do to prepare. He suggested that what future writers should do is to read a lot of non-fiction. Certainly, I didn't choose non-fiction books at the library when I was a kid, but we had lots of magazines in our house, and I read National Geographic every month among other magazines. So, I actually did get a lot of non-fiction reading done.

Most fiction doesn't just come come out of an author's head. That is what Baldacci is trying to tell potential authors. Most authors do an extensive amount of research to make sure that they get the setting right and the historical aspects right as well. Even science fiction authors have to know that the science behind their fiction is correct to give authenticity to their writing.

One good tool for encouraging writing skills is to have a child read a book of non-fiction and then make up a short story using the information or those facts as part of the story. For instance, Africa might become the setting for a story after the child has read a book about the lions of Africa. Or the book Orphan Train Rider might inspire a child to imagine that he/she was a rider on the orphan trains of the 1800s. Here is a list of non-fiction books that could easily serve as inspiration for fiction writing. As you can tell from this list, almost any good non-fiction book can serve as a starting place for writing and for further research. I have included a writing prompt at the end of each title. The books will be available at your local library or bookstore, and they are appropriate for third, fourth, and fifth graders.

Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story by Andrea Warren. Facts about the children sent West on orphan trains are interspersed with the story of one 9-year-old boy who was sent to Texas on an orphan train in 1926. What would it be like to have no parents and be sent far away on a train to an unknown future?

Blizzard: The Storm that Changed America by Jim Murphy. This is the harrowing story of the blizzard of 1888. How did people get around in New York City during such a blizzard?

Buried Alive! How 33 Miners Survived 69 Days Deep under the Chilean Desert by Elaine Scott. What did the miners feel, trapped in the steam darkness so far underground?

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge. The chaotic, passionate, and deadly three months of protests that led to the Selma March in 1965. Would I have marched in Selma in 1965?

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson. The real stories and voices of survivors and witnesses. What would my life have been like if I survived the Titanic?

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca. A story of adventure and discovery during the summer of 1969. How would I have responded if it had been my father on Apollo 11?

 

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March Madness: Basketball Books

by Miriam Downey 25. March 2014 07:13

It is March Madness, and it is especially mad in Michigan where both major basketball teams (Michigan and Michigan State) have advanced to the Sweet 16. My 14-year-old grandson is a rabid Michigan State fan, and we have been speculating about the odds of both Michigan teams advancing to the final four. What if they played each other at the finals? Aah, the sweetness of that!

If you follow this blog, you know that my family is very large, and one of our best collective memories was the Final Four in 2010 when three of the four teams were important to our family. One son went to Butler; several had gone to Michigan State; and two were teaching at West Virginia. We all gathered on the night of the games, and the grandchildren had t-shirts for all three teams that they kept changing as the evening wore on. Our Butler son came out on top that night only to lose to Duke in the finals. So much fun!

Well, enough of my family stories. Here is a list of great basketball books for the sports fans in your family--both girls and boys. I have grouped them by picture books, chapter books, and non-fiction. All are available at the library or bookstore.

Picture Books

Hoops by Robert Burleigh. Captures the game with poetry and great illustrations. (K-6)

Swish! by bill Martin Jr. A girls' basketball tournament in words and pictures. (k-6)

Think Big by Nancy Carlson. Frog Vinny wants to be a basketball player. (k-2)

Cinder-Elly by Frances Minters. A rap fairy tale about a basketball game. (k-2)

Arthur and the Pen-Pal Playoff by Stephen Krensky. Arthur brags about his basketball ability. (k-2)

Around the World by John Coy. Street basketball around the world. (k-8)

Chapter Books and Novels

The Sabbath Garden by Patricia Greene. A young basketball star struggles to overcome her tough African-American neighborhood. (grades 7-12)

The Million-Dollar Shot by Dan Gutman. Eddie gets a chance to throw a basket at the NBA finals. (grades 4-6)

Jester at the Back Court by Tommy Hallowell. Part of the Alden All-Stars series of sports novels. (grades 4-6)

Angel Park Hoop Stars series by Dean Hughes. Basketball buffs will love this series. (grades 3-6)

Slam! by Walter Dean Myers. A star basketball player faces challenges at a new high school. (grades 7-12)

Non-fiction

The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons. Everything you wanted to know about basketball. (grades 4-12)

Basketball: Startling Stories behind the Records by Jim Benagh.  Lots of basketball trivia. (grades 4-12)

Basketball: A Slammin' Jammin' Guide to Super Hoops! by Richard Brenner. A guide to playing basketball, with lots of basic skills for both girls and boys. (grades 4-6)

Fundamental Basketball by Jim Klingzing. Lots of photographs to explain basketball. (grades 2-6)

Michael Jordan by Sean Dolan. No list of basketball books is complete without a book about Michael Jordan. (grades 4-6)

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Read Across America 2014

by Miriam Downey 4. March 2014 07:59

This week is Read Across America week with yesterday, March 3, as Read Across America Day. The Cat in the Hat is the official deliverer of the good news of books to children all over the country. I laugh now when I think about how much my children loved Dr. Seuss books and how much I groaned when one of the children picked up their favorite Dr. Seuss story for bedtime reading. Now, I rejoice every time my youngest grandchild picks up One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish--his current favorite--and brings it to me to read to him. We cuddle on the couch and are soon caught up in silliness.

Many of Dr. Seuss's books can be found on the Internet, and there are entire websites dedicated to his books. Many of them include lesson plans, coloring pages, puzzles and other activities to go with the books. Additionally, there are a lot of YouTube videos that read Dr. Seuss books to children. I've included a list of websites with Dr Seuss activities at the end of the post.

Dr. Seuss's real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel. He was an advertising and political cartoonist who stumbled into writing children's books when he was hired to illustrate a book. Although the book was not successful, the illustrations received a lot of praise. So, Geisel decided to write a book on his own. His first published book was And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. After that success, a book editor bet him that he couldn't write a book using 225 basic vocabulary words that all new readers would know. The Cat in the Hat did just that. It used all 225 words and only those 225 words.

And thus the magic of Dr. Seuss books. The earliest readers can read them, and they are loved because of the rhymes, quirky characters, and the life lessons that they teach. So, even though parents can groan (like I did) when a child brings Green Eggs and Ham to read for the 100th time, you can be happy that you are helping your child learn language and reading.

Here is a list of a dozen Dr. Seuss books that every child should read at least once. But believe me, for most children, once is not enough.

Green Eggs and Ham

On! The Places You'll Go

The Cat in the Hat

The Lorax

Horton Hears a Who

Horton Hatches the Egg

The Sneetches

Hop on Pop

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Ten Apples Up on Top

Fox in Socks

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

 

 

Websites

The official Dr. Seuss website

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That from PBS

A list of quotes from Dr. Seuss books

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Guys Read

by Miriam Downey 13. February 2014 08:22

My 14-year-old grandson is a reader. Always has been. You never see him without a book at his side. He likes science fiction, fantasy, and the dystopian novels that were featured on the last blog posting. On the other hand my 16-year-old grandson, who is far more visual, only likes to read graphic novels and anime. You might have noticed a similar phenomenon with the boys that you know. Boys tend to read differently than girls, and there is significant research that shows that boys are reading less all the time. Test scores in reading are echoing the research. On a brighter note, current research also shows that boys will read if they can find reading materials that interest them.

The research shows that most boys like practical, useful information. Girls are much more likely to read stories. There is an excellent guide to improving boys' literacy skills published by the Ontario Department of Education. You can find it here. The guide has a lot of practical advice for educators and parents. Here is another summary of the research in education that has a lot of good information as well as good advice for parents and others who encourage boys to read.

 

Most of you know the author Jon Scieszka because you and your kids have read The Stinky Cheese Man, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and Math Curse. Currently he is serving as the National Ambassador of Young People's Literature. He is the sponsor of a webpage about books for boys called Guys Read. It is a web-based literacy program, and it has a wealth of information and huge lists of books that boys will want to read. For instance, the featured book is called Locomotive by Brian Floca, which is the Caldecott Medal winner for 2014. Floca also wrote another guy-friendly book called Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11.

I am not going to make a list of books this week. You will find plenty of book suggestions on the Guys Read website. I will close by referring you to some postings from past months that have lists of books that boys like.

Dystopian Novels for Teens

Great Sports Biographies

To Infinity and Beyond: Books about Space and Astronomy

Graphic Novels for Middle and High School Students

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

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Dystopian Novels for Teens

by Miriam Downey 1. February 2014 09:35

 Most teens like dystopian novels but they don't know the term dystopian. Dystopia is just the opposite of Utopia. In utopian fiction, society is ideal, or the way the writer visualizes that society would be ideal. In dystopian fiction, things have gone very bad--there is at least one major reason why things aren't good. Most people would classify dystopian fiction as science fiction, but the fact that the culture is oppressive is what makes the difference. One writer suggests that a novel is dystopian when the government or the governing social institution is dysfunctional. Usually dystopian fiction is set in the "near" future.

Firction has always been full of dystopian literature, most likely beginning with Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, written in the 1700s, which really was a combination of utopian and dystopian literature. The most current example of dystopian fiction is The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Most parents had to read 1984, Fahrenheit 451 or Animal Farm when they were in school, and these books remain the classic dystopian novels.

One children's book expert believes that teens are drawn to dystopian fiction because it's an exciting genre but also because the books are generally set in either chaotic or strictly controlled societies--which tends to mimic a teenager's life. The books also are hero or heroine journeys, much more like fairy tales than they are like science fiction. The teenaged hero/heroine will be tested and challenged. Often the adults are the oppressors and the children are the liberators. Easy to see why these books are loved by teens.

I have included in this rather short list the books that I can recommend to most young people. Let's begin with the classics, most of which are available online. Although there are some objections to the Hunger Games series, I did include it on the list.

Classic Dystopian Novels

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. Written in 1726, it has never been out of print. (grades 6-12)

Animal Farm by George Orwell. The farm animals stage an uprising and overcome an oppressive regime. (grades 6-12)

1984 by George Orwell. The "party" controls everything in Oceania, and everywhere Winston goes, he sees the face of the party. (grades 10-12)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. 451 Fahrenheit, by the way, is the temperature that books burn and the government is out to burn all the books. (grades 9-12)

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. This is a short story that may have been influential in the creation of the Hunger Games. (grades 10-12)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. A group of boys are lost on an island and try to create a government. (grades 7-12)

Recent Dystopian Fiction

The Giver by Lois Lowry. The society depicted in this novel eliminates pain and problems by promoting "sameness." Winner of the Newbery Prize. (grades 6-8)

Uglies series by Scott Westerfield. When you are 16 in Uglytown, you turn pretty because of required surgery. (grades 7-9)

Feed by M. T. Anderson. Describes a world where everyone's mind is hardwired to resemble the Internet. (grades 7-12)

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Three books about a dystopian society called Panem. There is some violence in the books, but they are remarkably well plotted. (grades 7-12)

Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Tris is born into a caste-based society where there is only one chance to move ahead. (grades 9-12)

 

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Winnie the Pooh: Everyone's Favorite Bear

by Miriam Downey 23. January 2014 07:18

Now We Are Six

When I was one I had just begun

When I was two I was nearly new

When I was three I was hardly me

When i was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive

But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever;

So I think I'll be six forever and ever.

A.A. Milne

Recently, I began thinking about Winnie the Pooh and how powerful the image and the words of that little teddy bear are in American life. My thoughts  may have been caused by a reminder of the birthday of the first Winnie the Pooh book, published in 1926 by A. A. Milne. Was there ever a more positive friend than Winnie the Pooh? Was there ever a book more comforting than Winnie the Pooh?

Winnie the Pooh was the creation of a British humorist A. A. Milne. He wrote the stories for his son Christopher Robin about Christopher's stuffed bear Winnie the Pooh or as Christopher called him, Edward Bear. The stories are set in the woodlands of Sussex, England. The first book was published in 1926 and was followed by three others. All were illustrated by a British illustrator named E.H. Shepard. The charming characters include Winnie, Eeyore the donkey, Tigger, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, and of course, Christopher Robin.

What has made these stories so appealing and comforting to children for more than 85 years? For one thing, the characters are dependable. For example, every day when Pooh wakes up, he says, "What's for breakfast?" He particularly likes to look for "hunny to fill the rumblee in his tumblee." Piglet's first words in the morning are "I wonder what's going to happen exciting today." Pooh says, "Oh bother!" regularly. These are characters that children can relate to. Besides the simple, delightful stories, the books are filled with comforting thoughts.

So, after I started looking for information about Winnie the Pooh, I found a delightful website that is full of Winnie the Pooh history, pictures to color, games to play, and the entire text of three of the stories. You can find the website here.

Walt Disney's daughter loved the Pooh books, so Disney made the first Winnie the Pooh movie and created several generations of children who know the stories because of the movie. Lots of Pooh stories can be found on YouTube. The official Disney Winnie the Pooh website has lots of games and stories, which you can find here. (Remember this is a commercial site.)

Here are online copies of the original books. They will also be easy to find at the library or bookstore. If you want the true Winnie the Pooh experience, find the A. A. Milne stories and not the Disney versions of the stories.

When We Were Very Young

Winnie the Pooh

Now We are Six

The House at Pooh Corner

Have fun! Remember that Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends cherished the important things in life and appreciated the small things. They had lots of wisdom. Share that wisdom with your children.

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Why Read Shakespeare?

by Miriam Downey 10. January 2014 08:36

It is pretty hard to escape knowing about William Shakespeare in western culture. His works are everywhere; from Shakespeare festivals, to movie adaptations of his plays, to community theater, to required reading for coursework. Why do we read Shakespeare?

First, Shakespeare's characters have a universality to them that transcend the language. When we see one of Shakespeare's characters, we recognize them despite the costume they may be wearing. We know about conniving businessmen, star-crossed lovers, people pretending to be something they are not, soldiers, politicians, and on and on and on. The plays of Shakespeare point out human characteristics that we understand.

Then, we hear phrases from Shakespeare as part of our common English language. Here are some phrases that we hear frequently that we may not know come from Shakespeare's plays.

  • vanished into thin air
  • refused to budge an inch
  • green-eyed jealousy
  • played fast and loose
  • tongue-tied
  • a tower of strength
  •  in a pickle
  • knitted your brow
  • fair play
  • slept not one wink
  • too much of a good thing

Finally, there are illusions to Shakespeare's plays over and over in the movies that we watch. I remember how thrilled I was when I first saw the musical West Side Story and  realized that it was the story of Romeo and Juliet. Did you realize that The Lion King is based on the play Hamlet? Forbidden Planet from 1956 is a science fiction retelling of The Tempest. 10 Things I Hate About You is based on The Taming of the Shrew. Watching any of these movies would be a great follow-up to reading the plays. Of course, there are movie versions of the original plays as well. When I checked YouTube, I realized that full length Shakespeare plays can be found there. Sometimes watching the movie after reading the play helps to understand the play better.

One final note, reading Shakespeare's plays is often a bit difficult for most students when they are first exposed to them. It helps to read the play out loud, especially if you have a couple of people to take the different parts. However, the very best way to understand Shakespeare is to go and see a live production. Many colleges and universities stage Shakespeare plays on a yearly basis as do community theaters. It also helps to read a synopsis of the play before you begin. A great source of the stories is Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. Although written for children, the stories are great for any age.

All the plays of Shakespeare can be found online at the website The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Here's a plan: read a synopsis of the story in Tales from Shakespeare, then read the play and follow it up with a movie version on YouTube. Look for phrases you recognize and find characters that you can identify with. The experience of reading Shakespeare will be better if you do it with purpose.

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Picture Books to Make You Laugh Out Loud!

by Miriam Downey 31. December 2013 07:42

Start the New Year off with a laugh.

I have been thinking about this posting during the holidays as I observed the things that made my grandchildren laugh. I watched my oldest grandchild making my youngest granddaughter laugh until she cried over his silly faces. I have heard children laughing at the dinner table over goofy jokes. At the same time, I observed my granddaughters watching tween shows on television where the laugh track was going wild but as the watchers, they weren't even cracking a smile. Why is that? Perhaps observing humor is different than participating in humor.

All of the books below are guaranteed to bring out a chuckle from both the reader and the listener. They are sophisticated enough that parents will love them as much as the child. They can all be found at the library or bookstore. They are guaranteed laughs.

I have to add that my special favorites are the books of David Shannon, Mark Teague, Lane Smith, James Marshall, Mo Willems and Dav Pilkey. You can't go wrong with any of their books.

Sooooo! Here's the list!

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Lane Smith

Pigsty by Mark Teague

Click, Clack Moo! Cows that Type! by Doreen Cronin

Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard and James Marshall

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett

How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka

No, David! by David Shannon

I Want My Hat Back! by Jon Klassen

I Stink by Kate McMullan

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

Imogene's Antlers by David Small

Happy reading! Happy New Year!

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The Snowy Day

by Miriam Downey 16. December 2013 10:51

I don't know where you are, but in Michigan, we have snow. Lots and lots of snow! No worries at all about a white Christmas. In fact, the worry may be that people aren't going to get wherever they were planning to go for Christmas if the snow machine doesn't shut off. Because we live on the East side of Lake Michigan, the cold winter wind comes across the warmer lake and makes snow, which then gets dumped in our yards and on our roads. Winter started very early this year.

It got me looking for some books about snow to share with those of you who don't have any (snow, that is). Here are some of my favorites both fiction and non-fiction to read this winter.

Non-Fiction

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Caldecott Medal). This is a biography of the self-taught scientist, Wilson A. Bentley, who was obsessed with snowflakes. He photographed them and wrote a book about them, which is still in use. (grades 1-3).

Ice Story: Shackleton's Lost Expedition by Elixabeth Cody Kimmel. Talk about snow! The 1914 expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton to the polar ice cap is a disastrous survival story. (grades 4-8).

Winter Poems Illustrated by Trina Schart. Poems for the winter season. (grades k-5).

Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancock. A simple but scientifically accurate picture book. Answers lots of questions about animals in winter. (grades k-2).

The Winter at Valley Forge: Survival and Victory by James E. Knight. How the worst of nature brought the best in men and turned farmers into soldiers. (grades 3-6).

The Kids Winter Handbook by Jane Drake. Lots of good ideas for celebrating winter. (grades k-6).

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. This is a true adventure of how Norwegian children on sleds helped save the country's money from the Nazis. An amazing story. (grades 4-8).

Picture Books

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. (Caldecott Medal). The young city child is absolutely enthralled with the beautiful snowy day. (grades k-2).

 Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (Caldecott Medal). A snowy walk through the woods. (grades k-2). There are several read alouds and videos of Owl Moon on YouTube.

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert. A book about making snowballs and all the fun things that can be done with them. (grades 1-3).

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton. Katy is a big snowplow who clears the way when the town is hit by a huge snowstorm. (grades k- 2). This book has a great symphonic version on YouTube.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. The classic wordless story of a snowman. (grades k-2).

Chapter Books and Read Alouds

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Introduce your child to Laura Ingalls Wilder with her long winter in the Dakota Territory. (grades 2-5).

Woodsong by Gary Paulson. Paulson is another great author to introduce to your children. This is the story of a dogsled race. (grades 4-8).

The Mystery in the Snow (Boxcar Children) by Gertrude Chandler Wagner. The Boxcar Children's winter adventure. A good introduction to this series. (grades 2-5).

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George. (Newbery Award). An exciting adventure story of a young Eskimo girl lost in the wilds of Alaska. (grades 4-8)

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The First Thanksgiving in Picture Books

by Miriam Downey 9. November 2013 15:01

 

 

 Our family Thanksgiving has always included many people--some of whom are not family members. We have included friends of our children, college roommates, foreign students, as well as people from church and our community activities who have nowhere else to go. Our feeling has always been "the more the merrier," and I am sure many of you have similar holiday celebrations. Thanksgiving is all about family and tradition.

Besides family members, our Thanksgiving this year will include a young Egyptian couple and a few young students from Saudi Arabia that I tutor. How do I explain Thanksgiving to them? The holiday is so rich in American culture. It is the essence of what makes our country great. I will have to explain why we eat turkey, corn, and cranberry sauce. I will need to explain how the earliest settlers were made welcome by the Native Americans, and how the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to survive in this strange land. It is indeed a marvelous holiday, and it is unique to the United States.

Our guests this year will bring stuffed grape leaves, baklava, and a Saudi dish called Kebsa. We will enjoy these new tastes along with our mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

One of my favorite books for the holidays is Molly's Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen. It completely captures the essence of the holiday. I have included on this list of books a variety of stories for all ages that tell of the origins of the holiday. You will be able to find them at your library or bookstore. Some may be available for Kindle or Nook.

There are three cute Thanksgiving books available online on We Give Books. You will find them on the front page of the website.

 Stories about the First Thanksgiving 

!621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac. Photographs by Cotton Coulson and Sisse Brimberg (Grades 3–5 )
In October of 2000, Plimoth Plantation cooperated with the Wampanoag community to stage an historically accurate reenactment of the 1621 harvest celebration. 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving exposes the myth that this event was the "first Thanksgiving" and is the basis for the Thanksgiving holiday that is celebrated today. This exciting book describes the actual events that took place during the three days that the Wampanoag people and the colonists came together.

The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward (Grades PreK–1)
Give young readers the familiar story behind our tradition of Thanksgiving Day, detailed in this easy-to-read history storybook. The Pilgrims' journey, the trials they endure while at sea, and all of their amazing adventures are conveyed with vibrant illustrations and simple words for utmost comprehension.

Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern (Grades PreK–1)
Full-color illustrations bring to life this historically accurate account of how the children of Plymouth Colony helped contribute to the first Thanksgiving celebration.

Squanto's Journey by Joseph Bruchac (Grades K–3)
Travel back to 1620 as an English ship called the Mayflower lands on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket people. As Squanto welcomes the newcomers and teaches them how to survive in the rugged land they called Plymouth, young readers are treated to a story ending with the two peoples feasting together in the spirit of peace and brotherhood.

If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma (Grades 1-4)
Told from a child's perspective and illustrated in full color, this book brings the first Thanksgiving to life. Details about daily life put young readers into the middle of the action.

If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern (Grades 1–4)
Answer children's questions about the Pilgrims with an enlightening Thanksgiving story. With the beautiful illustrations, young readers can imagine being right on the ship, waiting to arrive in a new land. As part of the If You series, this book helps bring history to life and nurture imagination.

The Journal of Jasper Jonathan Pierce: A Pilgrim Boy, 1620  by Ann Rinaldi (Grades 4–8)
By promising seven years of labor to a fellow traveler, Jasper earns passage aboard the Mayflower and closes the door on his troubled past. His account of the arduous ocean crossing and first year in the New World shows young readers his physical and spiritual growth as he learns the strengths and weaknesses in himself, his Puritan people, and his Native American neighbors.

Other Thanksgiving Holiday Stories

Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit  by Norman Bridwell (Grades PreK–2)
What child wouldn't like to have a pet as special as Clifford the Big Red Dog? In this adventure, Clifford experiences an unusual Thanksgiving journey, ending with an appreciation of overcoming difficulties, celebrating tradition, and spending time with family.

Gracias, el Pavo de Thanksgiving  by Joy Crowley (Grades PreK–2)
In this warm holiday story, a young Puerto Rican boy saves the life of his pet turkey with help from his close-knit New York City family and neighborhood. Beginning Spanish vocabulary is woven into the text, giving young readers a unique Thanksgiving story experience.

Molly's Pilgrim  by Barbara Cohen (Grades K–3)
Molly nears her first Thanksgiving in America and her classmates giggle at her Yiddish accent and make fun of her unfamiliar ways. Now her mother embarrasses her with a doll that looks more Russian than Pilgrim. Will Molly discover something to be thankful for?

 

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