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ERIC Number: EJ1062034
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 17
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 65
ISSN: ISSN-1521-7779
The Historical Representation of Thanksgiving within Primary- and Intermediate-Level Children's Literature
Bickford, John H., III; Rich, Cynthia W.
Journal of Children's Literature, v41 n1 p5-21 Spr 2015
State and national initiatives have compelled significant change in English language arts and social studies/history curricula. English language arts teachers are required to balance fiction (or literature) and nonfiction (or informational texts), which is a considerable change for a content area formerly occupied by fiction (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers [NGA Center & CCSSO], 2010). Social studies/history teachers are expected to juxtapose primary and secondary accounts, a similarly sizable adjustment for a content area previously dominated by textbooks (National Council for the Social Studies, 2013; NGA Center & CCSSO, 2010). Beginning in elementary school, students are now assessed on their close readings of rich, complex, and (sometimes) competing primary and secondary accounts of the same event, era, or topic (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, 2012). Thus, the new emphases on diverse literature and discipline-specific literacies compel change in erstwhile patterns of fiction in English classrooms and textbooks in history classrooms (McMurrer, 2008; Wilton & Bickford, 2012). Trade books are relatively inexpensive and intended for young students and have engaging narratives; numerous trade books appear for most historical topics represented in school curricula (Schwebel, 2011). Trade books, in comparison with textbooks and primary source material, appear the logical choice for elementary teachers' restructuring of their curricula to meet the rigorous expectations of state and national initiatives. This article examines Thanksgiving, and the surrounding people and events, because of its prominence in elementary curricula. As an oft-included elementary social studies topic, authors and publishers have produced a vast pool of possible trade books about the Pilgrims, the "Mayflower," Plymouth Colony, and Thanksgiving for teachers' selection. Teachers, however, might be unaware of each book's historical representation of the people, events, and era. Knowing that children's authors cannot provide the detail that historians do, the authors of this article investigated the historical content that was included (and omitted) and how--focusing on two research questions: (1) How is Thanksgiving historically represented within children's books? and (2) What do intermediate elementary students learn that is new and different from what they learned in the primary grades?
Children's Literature Assembly. 940 Vandalia Road, Morgantown, WV 26501. Tel: 304-291-2393; Fax: 304-291-2393; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Information Analyses
Education Level: Primary Education; Early Childhood Education; Intermediate Grades; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A