WE GATHER TOGETHER (Young Readers Edition): Stories of Thanksgiving from Then to Now, by Denise Kiernan, Philomel Books, Sept. 26, 2023, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 8-12)
We Gather Together: Stories from Then to Now, by Denise Kiernan, tells the true story of how Thanksgiving became a national holiday.
Fiction: Thanksgiving is an American holiday that began when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and met the Indigenous tribes already living there.
Fact: Thanksgiving celebrations existed before the United States of America and were celebrated in other countries as well.
Fiction: American Thanksgiving was always on the fourth Thursday in November.
Fact: Thanksgiving’s day, date, and even its existence was at the discretion of the president and other leaders until the date was officially established by Congress and signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.
Fiction: George Washington is the person who decided we should celebrate Thanksgiving as a nation at the same time each year.
Fact: Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor and author, petitioned five presidents until she convinced Abraham Lincoln to declare a national day of Thanksgiving in November of 1863, starting an annual tradition continuing to this day.
There is much fiction surrounding the creation of Thanksgiving in America. Denise Kiernan debunks myths, provides facts, and explains how and why Thanksgiving evolved in the United States the way it did—and what gratitude means to society. —Synopsis provided by Philomel Books
We Gather Together is the young readers adaptation of Denise Kiernan’s New York Times bestselling book of the same title for adults.
In her book Kiernan writes about how over the decades, Thanksgiving has been tweaked, reinvented and expanded to suit our culture, circumstances and traditions. The holiday came from different motivations and the idea of offering thanks isn’t a uniquely American concept. However, there was one woman who championed the idea, and one president who saw the need amongst great suffering to offer thanks. Together, they pushed forward this idea of sharing gratitude.
Kiernan’s writing is smooth and accessible. We Gather Together doesn’t read like it’s been adapted for middle readers, rather it feels as if it’s written exactly for them. It’s a fascinating nonfiction read that parents and kids alike will enjoy.
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