Learning about God and Thanksgiving

When I was a kid, nobody helped me connect God with Thanksgiving. I knew about the Pilgrims and I thought they held only one Thanksgiving (they actually had many), but I didn't really understand the Pilgrims were expressing their extreme thanks to God - and with good reason. As parents, it falls to us to show our kids God's hand in history, and Thanksgiving is an excellent time to do this. Perhaps some of you hate history (probably because of the way it was taught to you in school) or don't have the time or energy to study up on the real particulars of the Pilgrims thanksgiving celebrations. Fortunately, there are some pretty decent children's books to help both you and your kids get a grasp on the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Here are our family's favorites:

* Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. This is my all time favorite picture book about Thanksgiving. This volume lshows how Squanto was kidnapped and made into a European slave. But, like Joseph, his slavery was in God's hands. Monks bought Squanto, treated him well, and taught him about Christ. To help Squanto return home to his family, the monks sent him the England, where Squanto learned English. After several years, Squanto finally found a ship sailing the North America - only to arrive in his home village to discover his people were completely wiped out by illness. Lonley, Squanto lived alone in the woods until he discovered the Pilgrims - people who loved God as he did and needed help surviving in the New World. In the end, Squanto and the Pilgrims realize how God used tragedy in Squanto's life for good. * Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters. This unique book is illustrated with photographs of re-enacters at Plymouth plantation. The text is written as though a Plgrim girl (Sarah Morton) is narrating her day to a guest. Although this book isn't explicitly about Thanksgiving (Sarah lives a generation or two later), it does give a wonderful look at daily life in Plymouth. And, despite the fact that this is a mainstream book, it shows how biblical studies fit into the average day of a Pilgrim child. You can read my full review of this book here. * Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness. This is a mainstream book, but I love that it includes information about the God-centered Mayflower Compact - something you won't find in most picture books. The book takes us through the early days of a Pilgrim family, from their landing in the New World until the famous Thanksgiving celebration. It helps us see their hardships and shows Thanksgiving being about about praising God. The illustrations are also spectacular; my 5 year old spends lots of quiet time examining every detail in this book. * Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration by Julie Stiegemeyer. This is a Christian book that focuses on the life of one Pilgrim girl. Although the book only gives the very basics of Thanksgiving history, I appreciate how it talks a lot about thankfulness to God. Read my complete review here. * Amost Home by Wendy Lawton. For older kids, this chapter book is a great explanation of the Pilgrim's trials in the Old World, their trip on the Mayflower, and their struggles and ultimate triumph in the New World. My complete review is here.
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