Book Club – Sarah Gives Thanks by Mike Allegra

This month’s book club choice is Sarah Gives Thanks, by Mike Allegra, Illustrated by David Gardner! It is easy to assume that Thanksgiving naturally became a holiday in the early stages of establishing the United States, but it took dedication and persistence from Sarah Josepha Hale, a talented journalist and writer to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.

During the 19th century, women had few job opportunities, but after the tragic loss of her husband, Sarah needed to support her five children. With her love of words, she began publishing her writing and eventually became an editor of a successful women’s journal.

Not everyone celebrated Thanksgiving but Sarah felt Thanksgiving was important because it “promoted family, friendship, gratitude and religion.” She wrote about the holiday and recipes in her magazine. As she became more influential she wrote congressmen and presidents requesting to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.  Her requests fell on deaf ears for many years but finally one of our presidents agreed.  Can you guess which president made Thanksgiving a national holiday?

In this book the author, Mike Allegra shed light on some “girl power” in American history and a story of serious perseverance.  The author’s note at the end of the story highlights the many accomplishments of this female heroine in American history. It is very likely you that you have been touched by some of Sarah’s other work, she is the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  Read the book to find out how many other amazing achievements Sarah Josepha Hale accomplished in her lifetime.

This is also a great story to have your kids retell at the Thanksgiving dinner table as most people don’t know this story or have your kids act out the story for guests.

This is a lengthier picture book with content that promotes a lot of discussion.  The story may need to be broken into several readings for younger children, with help on vocabulary such as:

  • Patriotic
  • Editorial
  • Territory
  • Tradition
  • Publish

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Book Club Activity:

This month’s activity is to create a Paper Bag Book and fill it with gratitude! This Paper Bag Book can be made with Thanksgiving flair by adding the turkey face and feathers!!

Ask your child what they love about the Thanksgiving holiday.  Brainstorm all the reasons that Thanksgiving is a great holiday – the traditions, the food, the get-togethers.  In the pages of the Turkey Paper Bag Book and on the slide out notecards, have your child write/draw the reasons they are grateful for the holiday of Thanksgiving.

Thank you, Sarah Josepha Hale for making this a national holiday for all of us to enjoy!

Click here for directions and a video on how to make the Paper Bag Book.  

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