Sarah Gives Thanks
By Mike Allegra
Illustrated by David Gardner
Today we take Thanksgiving for granted. However, this day of thanks might never have become a national holiday if it wasn’t for a determined woman named Sarah Josepha Hale. This book tells her story and provides second-grade readers with a fascinating glimpse into her life and work.
When Sarah was growing up in the early 1800s, women were not allowed to get much of an education. Sarah got around this problem by convincing her college-educated brother to share his schoolwork with her. Sarah went on to marry a lawyer who encouraged her to write and publish her poems and stories. Unfortunately, Sarah’s husband died just a few years after their marriage, leaving her with five small children to support. Sarah turned to writing to earn money, and soon became one of America’s most influential writers and editors. She seems to have been the Oprah Winfrey of her time!
Through all her triuimphs and struggles, Sarah never forgot to be thankful. She believed everyone should give thanks for their blessings, no matter how small. At that time, Thanksgiving was not a national holiday. It was celebrated on different days in different states, and some states did not celebrate it at all. Sarah made it her mission to create a national day of thanks. She promoted her idea in the magazines she edited and published, and gained tremendous public support. But the idea could not become reality until the President of the United States made it official. It took Sarah many years and letters to five different presidents before Abraham Lincoln finally agreed and proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving in 1863.
Sarah Gives Thanks portrays an incredible woman fighting for what she believed in. This inspirational book is perfect for second-grade readers. It features an interesting twist on a subject everyone is familiar with and could be a great addition to a classroom unit on Thanksgiving, either as a read aloud or for independent work. An author’s note and list of sources add to the book’s classroom value. The writing is right on target for a second-grade reading level and the lively illustrations will add to the reader’s enjoyment and comprehension. This book could also be used to create reading and writing activities centered on Thanksgiving, Sarah’s life, or student efforts to promote a cause they believe in. Sarah Gives Thanks would be a great addition to any second-grade reading list.