Book Lists, Learning with Literature

Learn About Thanksgiving Using Living Literature

Imagine these two scenarios and then ask yourself you’d prefer…

  • Reading a textbook about the journey on the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving, filling in a few worksheets and making a hand print turkey
  • Reading about a woman who was so determined to remember the importance of Thanksgiving, she petitioned the government for 35 years until President Lincoln made it a national holiday

Personally, option # 2 sounds a whole lot more appealing and much more likely to inspire our kids to be genuinely interested in why we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Charlotte Mason knew this too, which is why she promoted the use of “living literature” or books written by an author who had either first hand experience with the subject or a strong passion for it.  (Translation – not a textbook!)

Living literature can be incorporated into any subject but one of my favorites in history.  How else can we transport back in time to truly immerse ourselves in the culture and events of the past.  This month we have been working our way through a stack of great books about thanksgiving, covering both the historical aspects and some of the more modern traditions of the holiday.  Whether you homeschool or send your kids to a traditional school, I would highly recommend looking for a least one of these books at your local library.

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Here’s my favorite living books about Thanksgiving….


Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving by Ann Mcgovern


Over the River and Through the Wood by Lydia Marie Child

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende Devlin


Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward


I hope these inspire you to have fun and learn a little about Thanksgiving!  If you’re looking for more to do this Thanksgiving season, check out our unit study of Cranberry Thanksgiving – we had a blast!

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4 thoughts on “Learn About Thanksgiving Using Living Literature”

  1. So, looks like two of those are basic stories of the first Thanksgiving. There are so many out there…why did you like those two in particular? Just curious.

    1. You’re right, there are so many great books that tell the basic story of Thanksgiving. These are ones that we’ve actually read (one we even own), so I feel confident in recommending them! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. What great books to teach kids about Thanksgiving through reading! Thank you so much for this list! Certainly putting these on the list to checkout at the library! Thanks for sharing at #WanderingWednesday at Confessions of Parenting!

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