First Thanksgiving

Frané and I have celebrated Thanksgiving in the US, the UK, the Caribbean and many other countries. No matter where we are in the world, we always manage to gather friends and family to share a special day of celebration.

This year our Thanksgiving will be in Australia. So what does an Australian Thanksgiving mean? Our maritime history is full of stories of the Dutch and Portuguese, French and English exploration. These days we have many refugees who embark on treacherous journeys by boat across the vast ocean. Stories like The Mayflower can help us all recognise that although times may change, universal needs – hope, respect, love, freedom and security – remain unchanged.

On September 6, 1620, one hundred and two brave souls began a long, dangerous journey on the Mayflower. Seeking a better life, the Pilgrims crossed thousands on miles of ocean to reach a mysterious destination – the new world we call America.

Thanksgiving is a lesson from history about a moment when people from different races and backgrounds forgot what separated them and rejoiced in what united them. It was about what defines us as humans – a sense of family and community, caring, sharing and a vision of a world where all live in peace and harmony.

It is universal celebration. So, no matter where you are in the world…Happy Thanksgiving.

Pilgrims Leaving England

Thanksgiving has always been my favourite day of the year. As a child, I had trouble sleeping the night before. I couldn’t wait to see all my cousins.

My childhood Thanksgivings were spent at Norman Cousin’s county house in Connecticut. This beautiful man continues to be a great inspiration in my life. Quotes by Norman Cousins. Our extended family was so large that it required four turkeys to feed everyone. Sometimes Thanksgiving was comparable to a United Nations meeting. Norman would bring home visiting dignitaries. People from many different cultures from around the world would share the celebration with our family. I remember the excitement when U Thant, Burmese diplomat and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, spent one Thanksgiving with us.

One of my fondest Thanksgiving memories is of a dozen cousins riding through the autumn forest along a dirt track on the roof, hood and bumper of a car – all of us hanging on for dear life. A cousin old enough to reach the car pedals drove with everyone singing and laughing.


Thanksgiving unites family and friends in a way no other holiday does….so we give thanks to Samoset, Squanto, Massasoit and the Wampanoag people – and to those brave Pilgrims, who set sail almost 400 years ago to seek a better life in their little ship, the Mayflower.

TEACHER’S NOTES click here.


As I scroll down my Book Week Month schedule and about to face 27 school visits, I thought I’d share my tried and tested top ten survival tips.

1. Reconfirm dates and times with the library or school beforehand. Organisers have been known to go on long service leave or change position.

2. Prepare a presentation that’s age appropriate – find out in advance what year levels you will be seeing. If it’s the entire school in one presentation, you will need to engage the little ones through to the older students. Prepare accordingly.

3. Confirm equipment needs: i.e. a data projector/interactive whiteboard. Always good to carry an extra VGA cable, HDMI cable, powerboard and batteries for a remote. If technology fails, be prepared to have a Plan B
= you alone and the audience. It’s refreshing!

4. Ask where best to park. Organisers will know parking restrictions or may offer you a prime spot.

5. Sign books or autograph books, but not tiny scraps of paper. Alternatively, ask the teacher to photocopy a sheet with multiple signatures.

6. Teachers will adore you if you leave a ‘hands-on’ activity they can use in the classroom for follow-up after your visit.

7. Ask in advance if the school would like a book order form to purchase books for the students and/or school.

8. Be respectful in your presentation. Don’t go for the shock and awe to amuse the students with words that will upset the teachers. Especially if you want an invitation back or anywhere for that matter. Word travels quickly.

9. Ask for a microphone if you feel your voice is going – even with a small group. Don’t wait til it goes completely.

10. Be prepared to change tack. Have Plan B ready to go and even a Plan C.

Inspiring children about books and reading is a great gift to share.
So get out there, good luck and enjoy!