Kristina discovered this heart-warming Thanksgiving book last year and wrote about it. It is worth another mention. Molly’s Pilgrim is an illustrated book for children in grades 1-3 and may help them see the holiday in its historical context and also broaden their perspective.– Nancy

Molly’s Pilgrim written by Barbara Cohen and illustrated by Daniel Mark Duffy (HarperCollins, Revised Edition, 2005)  is only 32 pages long, but a terrific read.

Molly does not fit in at her new school. She is different. Originally from Russia and a Jew, she has come to live in a small town following her family’s arrival in New York City. Molly is teased by the other girls in school because her clothes are different and she does not speak English well.

One day, the girls tease her all the way home. She starts to cry, and her mother says she will talk to the teacher. Molly fears her mother will make things worse because her mother speaks Yiddish and only a little English. Molly agrees that she will talk to her teacher, but she never does.

In November the teacher asks Molly to start reading a story. It is about the Pilgrims. The teacher asks each student to bring in a Pilgrim doll. Molly goes home to start work on the doll and other homework. Her mother creates a doll based on a picture of Molly. Molly thinks it is beautiful, but it is not like the picture in the book that the teacher gave Molly. Her mother explains that Molly is a pilgrim too. She has come to the United States for religious freedom as well.

Molly takes the doll to school. The other children share their dolls. But, Molly’s doll is different and she is teased. The teacher asks to see the doll. She says it is beautiful, and Molly explains the story. A few of the students start to think about Molly’s pilgrim as a modern pilgrim. Molly even becomes friends with a girl who teased her.

Molly’s Pilgrim is a modern Thanksgiving story. It reminds us that there are still people coming to the United States to worship God in their own way. It teaches us to think about our special and important right to freedom of religion. This story also reminds us that Thanksgiving originated with Christians who read the Bible. Their feast was similar to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, which celebrated the harvest that God gives.

Molly’s Pilgrim is a great story for young readers ages 7-10 and even a great read-aloud for families.

Kristina O’Brien is a mother of twin girls, an avid reader and a credentialed teacher. She has taught both middle school and high school history. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoys raising her two girls.