Books for Kids About the Mayflower

What school child isn't familiar with the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock? Most school children know something about them including the fact that the first Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower. But how much to they know about the Mayflower itself or its long journey across the ocean? Learning about the Mayflower, its voyage, and the people who made the voyage can give children (and adults) a deeper appreciation of what these men, women, and children went through to start a new life in a new land.

The story of the Mayflower voyage and starting a new life in the New World is told from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy. Although neither the name of the ship nor the name of the settlement is actually mentioned in the book, the story is based on the records of one of the passengers on the Mayflower. It covers the voyage itself as well as the first harsh winter the settlers endured, which resulted in much disease and death. Thanks to the help of friendly Indians, who teach the settlers where they could fish and how to plan corn, the remaining settlers survived. The story is beautifully illustrated with pastel, charcoal, and colored pencil pictures.
Ages 5 and up

This book isn't, strictly speaking, about the Mayflower, but it does help a reader understand what it must have been like for the pilgrims on that ship. The story is a modern mystery story involving missing jewelry that had once belonged to a passenger on the Mayflower. The young detectives try to discover what happened hundreds of years ago. Along the way, they learn about the Mayflower and what it must have been like crossing the Atlantic in it. Kids who enjoy mysteries will enjoy this book - and they'll learn about the Mayflower, which for most gifted kids, will add to the enjoyment.
Ages 6 to 9

This book takes yet another approach to the history of the Mayflower. If you are familiar with the "If You..." books, you will know what to expect: a question and answer format. Children can skip around reading the answers to the questions they are most interested in first and then going back to read the others. Some of the questions this book answers include What kind of ship was the Mayflower? How did the Pilgrims feel when they saw land? What was one of the biggest problems in Plymouth? and Did children go to school? Readers will learn about whot the Pilgrims were, why they left England, and what hardships they endured to make a new life for themselves. They will also discover what the Mayflower compact was and how the settlers survived their first difficult year.
Ages 7 to 10

Remember, nicknamed "Mem," is one of 34 children who made the voyage across the Atlantic in the Mayflower. In the style of diary entries, Mem tells the story of the trip that she made, along with 101 other men, women, and children. This book of historical fiction helps bring to life the boredom, danger, and misery the Mayflower passengers experienced on their voyage, as well as the obstacles they encountered after they landed and attempted to settle in Plymouth. We see, through Mem's eyes, the apprehension these pilgrims must have experienced when learning of the "feathered people" who attack settlers and the heartbreak that comes when loved ones die during their first cold winter. But we also see the incredible spirit and courage that the pilgrims, including the children like Mem, exhibited.
Ages 9 and up

This book includes the kind of historical detail that I love learning about. Dates, people, events -- those are all important to any story of the past. But the little known details about the people are the details that can bring the characters to life and help us see their humanity. We can also see how some of the details we don't know about made all the difference in the world. For example, we learn that John Alden, who was a carpenter, initially opposed bringing along a "house-screw" because he thought it would be a waste of space. That house-screw later was used to save the ship when in sprang a leak on the voyage. We also learn that William Brewster, who became the senior elder in Plymouth, had to hide out on the Mayflower because King James had ordered his arrest for printing religious material critical of the king. The story of the Mayflower people covers about two years, starting with their departure from England in 1620 to the death of Squanto in 1622. Squanto was the Native American whose was instrumental in helping the pilgrims survive their first winter. Included in the book are maps of the route the Mayflower took, a passenger list, The Mayflower Compact, as well as a glossary and bibliography.
Ages 10 and up

While most children are aware of the Mayflower, few probably know about The Mayflower Compact. This document was a recognition of the need for law that all could agree on. In this way the Compact was a precursor to American democracy, where the people decide for themselves how they are to be ruled rather than having rulers decide for them. Although changes were made to accommodate the unforeseen consequences of the Compact, it still started out with people deciding how their lives would be governed. Focus boxes and sidebars introduce special characters, and add details, quotes, and clarifications. The book includes photos, reproductions, and illustrations to help make the story of the Mayflower come to life.
Ages 10 and up

Nathaniel Philbrick has adapted his book Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War for younger readers in sixth grade and beyond. Like the original book, this adaptation details the life of the Mayflower pilgrims after their long journey across the Atlantic. It goes well beyond the first year or two of their life in the New World. It covers the first fifty years, providing a full picture of the settlers and their relationship with the natives and with each other. It is as realistic and fair a story as you are likely to find anywhere. Based on the work Of Plimoth Plantatation by Governor William Bradford, the book provides many first-hand details. Included in the book are maps, artwork, and photos.
Ages 10 and up

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