Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving


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From the author of Speak and Fever, 1793, comes the never-before-told tale of Sarah Josepha Hale, the extraordinary "lady editor" who made Thanksgiving a national holiday!

Thanksgiving might have started with a jubilant feast on Plymouth's shore. But by the 1800s America's observance was waning. None of the presidents nor Congress sought to revive the holiday. And so one invincible "lady editor" name Sarah Hale took it upon herself to rewrite the recipe for Thanksgiving as we know it today. This is an inspirational, historical, all-out boisterous tale about perseverance and belief: In 1863 Hale's thirty-five years of petitioning and orations got Abraham Lincoln thinking. He signed the Thanksgiving Proclamation that very year, declaring it a national holiday. This story is a tribute to Hale, her fellow campaigners, and to the amendable government that affords citizens the power to make the world a better place!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780756947804
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/2005
Pages: 40
Product dimensions: 10.75(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

About the Author

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity. Her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Chains and Speak, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also received the 2009 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and Laurie was chosen for the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award. Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Pennsylvania, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @HalseAnderson, or visit her at

Matt Faulkner is a talented and clever picture-book maker whose dazzling ink and watercolor illustrations have graced dozens of well-loved picture books. On his inspiration for A Taste of Colored Water, he says, "When I was a boy it would've surprised me to learn that the word COLORED hung over a water fountain didn't mean that this was a magical place where fruit-flavored water flowed on demand." This story has grown out of his lifelong exploration of race and societal intolerance and the questions these institutions raise. His more recent work features several titles that focus on United States history, including Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson and You're on Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt by Judith St. George. He lives in Oakland, California, with his son.

Reading Group Guide

Thank You, Sarah


The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving


By Laurie Halse Anderson

Illustrated by Matt Faulkner

Sarah Hale, a determined widow, magazine editor and author, wanted Thanksgiving declared a national holiday. She launched a letter writing campaign to presidents which lasted thirty-eight years until she finally persuaded Abraham Lincoln to recognize the day.


Have readers discuss the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Then have them classify Thank You, Sarah, taking hints from the cover of the book.


  • Study the artwork on the cover of the book. What is the historical period?

  • Foreshadowing is a literary or art technique used to provide clues about something that might occur in the story later. Notice the quill and inkwell on the cover of the book, and the quill on the dedication page. Discuss what this foreshadows about Sarah. Find other examples of foreshadowing in the book. Hint: The bust on the pedestal on the fifth double-page spread.

  • Point out the first reference in the book to the way some families spend Thanksgiving today.

  • Sarah Hale is described as bold and brave and stubborn and smart. Why were these traits necessary for Sarah to win her battle to save Thanksgiving?

  • Discuss why Lincoln, more than the presidents before him, recognized the need to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.

  • Note the double-page spread at the end of the book. How many different religions and cultures are represented? Discuss the term “Melting Pot.” How does this illustration represent the concept that the United States is the Melting Pot of the world? What does the illustration reveal about freedom of religion?

  • How does Anderson use humor to reveal the conflict of the story and facts about Sarah? Faulkner reveals humor in various ways: exaggeration of character features and expressions, movement, line, bold sizes and shapes, and general content. Analyze the text for humor. Study each illustration, and point out the humor in each one.


  • After her husband died, Sarah Hale took a job making hats to earn money to feed her family. Design a hat that Sarah might have made for Mary Todd Lincoln to wear on the first Thanksgiving after President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday.

  • Read about Sarah on the following website: Discuss how her observations as a reader helped her career as an editor. She said that she wanted to “promote the reputation of my own sex, and do something for my own country.” Ask students to prepare a memorial tribute to Sarah on the day that she died that states how she accomplished what she set out to do for her own sex, and her country.

  • Divide the class into small groups. Have them take a look at newspaper and magazine advertisements. Then ask them to write and illustrate a full-page advertisement for a Thanksgiving Day newspaper that pays tribute to Sarah Hale. Encourage them to explore different styles of illustration and writing.

  • Interpret the following quote by Edward Bulwer-Lytton: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” On the last page of the book, Anderson challenges readers to “Pick up your pen. Change the world.” Encourage readers to think about ways they would like to change the world. What is their passion? Have them write a letter to the editor of a local or national newspaper, a politician, or a school authority about an issue or concern. Make sure they explain the outcome they expect.

  • Families have different Thanksgiving traditions. Invite students to bring a favorite family Thanksgiving recipe to class. Make an illustrated Thanksgiving cookbook. Assign groups to write a brief history of Thanksgiving, a tribute to Sarah Hale, an explanation of Thanksgiving symbols and traditions, etc. Then ask students to write about a favorite family Thanksgiving tradition. Bind the book and present it to the library.

This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Customer Reviews

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Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
ProfJP More than 1 year ago
I took this book to my daughter's 1st grade class for 'Mystery Reader' day right before Thanksgiving and the kids LOVED it! The teacher and I enjoyed it too - neither of us were really aware of how Thanksgiving became a national holiday. The illustration makes the book wonderful to read aloud to a group and the writing is excellent for 1st and 2nd grade readers. I would recommend this book for parents and teachers of young children as an excellent Thanksgiving story - something over and above the history of the pilgrims which gives an added facet to the celebration of the holiday.
amandacb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Imagine life without Thanksgiving in the USA: that is how Anderson opens up her story and introduces the historical figure, Sarah Hale. Sarah is a ¿superhero¿ who uses her secret weapon, a pen, to argue for Thanksgiving and its implementation as a national holiday. The cartoonish illustrations are well-done, and they use warm hues that are reminiscent of the warmth associated with Thanksgiving. Naturally, reading this story around Thanksgiving would be an excellent thematic unit.
patsila on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is WONDERFUL! I am so glad we checked it out, because not only do the kids enjoy it, I learned alot from it. I had never heard of Sarah Hale that I recall. Every little girl should read this book. It perseverance of Sarah Hale in a time when women had very little voice, is VERY inspirational.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entertaining and educational. The art is fabulous and the narrative engaging.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this last year for Thanksgiving. My son (5) really enjoys it. It teaches him that anyone can be a hero if they stick up for what they believe in.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book combines history and tradition, is politically correct, and somehow still manages to be interesting and really funny. The illustrations are excellent- flamboyant yet realistic, with characters ranging from presidential caricatures to the improbable Thanksgiving hero 'Turkey Dude'. The story is related in a chatty tone that appeals to kids, and yet the subject is a little-known piece of history even for most adults, who will enjoy discovering this with their children.
Squid22Syd23 More than 1 year ago
When I was in fourth grade we did a play on this book! It was just my classroom that did the play but all the other fourth grade classes came and saw it! I am really into theatre so I got Sarah, the main part. I just realized that this was the book that our play was based on! I remember that it was a great book!