It’s November, and that means Thanksgiving is coming up! Living in Massachusetts we can’t help but know the story of the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag and Plymouth Plantation. In fact, if you went to third grade in Weston, you probably visited the living history museum. But did you know that historians are still uncovering new information all the time?
If you’ve been to Plimoth Plantation, you know that there are history interpreters, who “translate” the experience of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag for visitors. If you’ve never been able to visit, try one of the Photo Essay Books below, which have wonderful photographs of young interpreters as they act out the story of the first Thanksgiving and life in Plymouth Colony. Then you can follow up with a fictional story!
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Arenstam, Peter. Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage
Photos of actors in authentic costume recreate the Mayflower‘s famous voyage from England and the founding of Plimoth Colony. Fascinating detail about the voyagers include why they left, how they navigated, and what they found when they made landfall. Some legends are shown to be false. The reenactors are clearly having fun and readers will be intrigued by the history and what it means to us today.
Goodman, Susan. The Pilgrims of Plymouth
What was it like to be a pilgrim child in 17th-century Massachusetts? Go back in time and see! Dramatic photos of historical reenactments combine with lively text to give a vivid sense of what daily life was like in Plymouth colony.
Grace, Catherine. 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
Countering the traditional story of the first Thanksgiving, this photo-essay presents a more measured, balanced, and historically accurate version of the three-day harvest celebration in 1621. Learn about the background on the Wampanoag people, colonization, Indian diplomacy, the harvest of 1621, and the evolution of the Thanksgiving story.
Wade, Linda. Plymouth: Pilgrims’ Story of Survival
Describes the reasons that the Pilgrims traveled to the New World, their voyage on the Mayflower, the hardships of their first winter in the Plymouth settlement, and the harvest celebration remembered as the first Thanksgiving. Also describes Plimoth Plantation, a recreation of the original seventeenth-century settlement.
Waters, Kate. Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast
Sometime between September 21 and November 9, 1621, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people shared a harvest celebration that has become known as the First Thanksgiving. This is the story of what happened during those days, as told by Dancing Moccasins, a fourteen-year-old Wampanoag boy, and Resolved White, a younger English boy. Photographed at Plimoth Plantation, this accurate reenactment will let you experience a time when early English colonists settled on the rich and fertile land of the Wampanoag people.
Waters, Kate. Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy
Samuel Eaton is looking forward to his first chance to help his father bring in the harvest, after he does his daily chores. He finds the work incredibly hard, and the coarse grain raises bad blisters on his hands. But he perseveres, and at the end of the day when his father tells him “you did a man’s work today, Samuel,” we feel his pride.
Waters, Kate. Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl
At sunup when the cockerel crows, Sarah Morton’s day begins. She has a fire to build, goats to milk, letters and scripture to learn; and between chores, she has a brief time for play with her best friend Elizabeth. Join her as she goes about her work and play in this reenactment of life at Plimoth Plantation.
Waters, Kate. Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times
Full-color photographs, taken at the Plimoth Plantation historical site make this a vivid visual presentation of Native American life. In the fictionalized account, Tapenum, disappointed that he has not yet been chosen to become a warrior, hunts for food, shoots a rabbit for his mother, goes fishing with a friend, and befriends a wise man, who teaches him about making arrows and learning patience.
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Clapp, Patricia. Constance: A Story of Early Plymouth
Through her diary, Constance tells of her journey across the Atlantic from London to Massachusetts, and gives wonderful details about the building and founding of Plymouth Colony. Feel Constance’s pain at “the sickness” that claimed many lives during the first winter, her outrage at the two men who try to destroy Plymouth’s peace and her emotions as she’s attracted to two very different young men. In our YA Collection.
Hurst, Carol. A Killing in Plymouth Colony
There had never before been a murder in Plymouth colony, but the facts were undeniable: John Newcomen had been shot and killed by someone. But by whom? When Governor William Bradford voices his suspicion of John Billington, somewhat of an outsider to the colony, his own son rushes to the man’s defense. Twelve-year-old John Bradford understands what it’s like to live outside of his father’s good graces. Can he help both his friend and his father to discover the truth?
Lasky, Katherine. A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple
Twelve-year-old Mem has just arrived in the New World with her parents after a grueling 65-day journey on the Mayflower, and leaps headfirst into life in her new home. Despite harsh conditions, she helps to care for the sick and wants more than anything to meet and befriend a Native American. Her wish comes true when she meets Squanto, who helps Mem and her family face a year of trial, tragedy, and thanksgiving.
Rinaldi, Ann. The Journal of Jasper Jonathan Pierce: A Pilgrim Boy
In 1620, an indentured servant named Jasper Jonathan Pierce sets sail with his master and 100 others on the Mayflower, seeking adventure, freedom, and a new way of life in America. Jasper records the events of his first fifteen months in America in his journal, including encounters with Pilgrim bullies, the suicide of one woman, and blow-by-blow details of the hardships endured.
Smith, Patricia. Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets
The oldest daughter of Corbitant, sachem of the Pocasset band of the Wampanoag Nation, Weetamoo was born around 1641. Weetamoo struggles with her impatience while trying to learn the skills that she will need to lead her people. Filled with details of daily life, this “diary” offers a comprehensive look at seventeenth-century Wampanoag culture, including the tribe’s disagreements over how best to deal with the white-skinned “Coat-men.”
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And one adult recommendation:
Wheeler, Leslie. Murder at Plimoth Plantation
This adult novel is a fascinating murder mystery that takes place at Plimoth Plantation. Historian Miranda Lewis rushes to the living museum when a conversation with her niece, one of the history interpreters, brings to light a problem among the reenactors. When a murder happens after her arrival, Miranda struggles to piece together what happened as she deals with three sets of characters–the current reenactors (in and out of their roles) and the original colonists. In the Adult Collection, but accessible to teens who may be interested.
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Check out our display of Thanksgiving, Pilgrim and Wampanoag books in the front of the Youth Services Department. Just look for Bella the Pilgrim!