by Laurie Halse Anderson
illustrated by Matt Faulkner
Ages 8 & up, 40 pages
Did you know that celebrating Thanksgiving almost didn’t happen? This book is about Sarah Hale who was a very determined woman who promoted Thanksgiving as a national holiday. She wrote numerous letters to three presidents before President Lincoln finally declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. The book highlights the Civil War, slavery, and the lifestyle during the nineteenth century. I suggest this book for older ages who understand historic events, but many benefit from the information. The back of the book includes additional information about the time period, Sarah Hale, and Thanksgiving traditions.
Background Information about Sarah Hale:
Sarah was editor for The Ladies’ Magazine, wrote the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and additional children’s stories, raised five children, made hats for profit when her husband died, and never hesitated to write about issues that concerned her. As editor, a few famous authors she published were Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. She never considered herself a woman’s rights advocate, but she did believe in education for women and safe working conditions. She was against slavery.
Additional Thanksgiving Facts:– In 1939, the National Retail Dry Goods Association wanted Thanksgiving to be moved to the third Thursday to lengthen holiday shopping. It was a disaster, since some individuals celebrated both days. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt declared Thanksgiving to always be on the fourth Thursday. -Sarah Hale chose the date based upon President George Washington who declared the last Thursday in November to be a “Day of Thanksgiving and prayer”. – The first football game played on Thanksgiving occurred in the 1870s. -In 1924, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade took place by store employees. (Another post will feature this event.)