When considering children’s books about history, we must discern which stories do not stereotype and are accurate and balanced with various perspectives, specifically including the Native American perspective. That being said, there are not enough good Thanksgiving book choices about accurate early American history, but I will continue to add more books as they are published.
I hope we can all agree that thankfulness and gratitude can be a wonderful (and important) focus for this harvest holiday.
In fact, did you know that thankfulness and gratitude are habits–something to practice and make a regular part of your day? (Kind of like exercise!)
We practice thankfulness each night in our family prayers. If this isn’t something you want to do, you might share things for which you are grateful at a family meal.
The good news is that gratitude directly correlates to your feelings of joyfulness. (GO HERE to get find book recommendations about gratitude.)
What Thanksgiving books will you include in your celebration this year?
Thanksgiving Books Table of Contents
- Board Books for Babies and Toddlers (ages 0 – 3)
- Books for Preschool and Elementary Age (ages 4 – 8)
- Books for Upper Elementary Ages (ages 8 – 12)
Thanksgiving Books for Kids
10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
Count and laugh at these silly turkeys roller-skating on a fence, doing a noodle dance, and more.
Happy Thanksgiving, Curious George by H.A. Rey
Celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with Curious George. He goes to the parade, makes crafts, and gets the table ready for the food.
I Love to Gobble You Up by Sandra Magsamen
Gobble up a nose, toes, and cuddles.
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
Anyone else have kids who love the Bear stories from Karma Wilson? Bear misses his friends. One by one they arrive to Bear’s cave with food. They all sit down to share the meal but before they do, they say, “Thanks.”
Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jill McElmurry
The simple rhyming text follows this 19th-century family preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving together.
Around the Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill, illustrated by Jaime Kim
This Thanksgiving story based on “This is the house that Jack built” poem shows a multigenerational, multicultural close-knit family. “These are the sunflowers picked by my cousins / Set on the table that Grandad built.” It’s a sweet story showing a group effort to get ready for Thanksgiving.
Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano, illustrated by Lee Harper
Get ready for a silly story! Turkey does not want Farmer Jake to eat him for Thanksgiving. So he thinks that maybe if he disguises himself he’ll fool the farmer? The resulting story is hilarious with a perfect ending.
Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Kathryn Mitter
At school, Tuyet’s teacher calls Thanksgiving “Turkey Day” and it seems like everyone is having a turkey dinner. But her Vietnamese American family has duck, not turkey which Tuyet loves. After the holiday, she returns to school and discovers that many other kids didn’t eat turkey either but they all have one thing in common — time with family and friends.
Peyton Picks the Perfect Pie: A Thanksgiving Celebration by Jack Bishop, illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter
From the minds at America’s Test Kitchen Kids comes the story of a picky eater named Peyton. This Thanksgiving, Peyton agrees to try one new food — pie. Each guest arrives and brings a different kind of pie — Boston Cream Pie, whoopie pies, ruffled milk pie, plum galette, Mississippi mud pie, and more — to add to Peyton’s mom’s apple pie. After dinner, Peyton tries her first pie…and asks for seconds! A festive celebration of food and community that shows how trying new foods can help you discover something new and yummy to eat.
Thankful by Elaine Vickers, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill
Three-dimensional miniatures and paper cut art college together as a girl expresses gratitude with a thankful chain as the first snow falls. She lists what she’s thankful for lie a teacher who knows when I am trying her best, things that are warm like soup and socks, snow that softens the world, and things that keep her safe, like stop signs and seat belts. Beautiful illustrations and a beautiful message.
We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac
“Cherokee people say otsaliheliga to express gratitude,” begins this wonderful #ownvoices celebration of the seasons, traditions, and family. As the families spend time outdoors and indoors, you’ll notice how gratitude encompasses all aspects of life from enjoying a feast for the Cherokee New Year to elders sharing stories to kids making corn-husk dolls to even saying goodbye to soldiers serving our country. Each season is written in English and in Cherokee. The pictures are vibrant and colorful, honoring the Native American Cherokee culture.
Twelve Dinging Doorbells by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Every time the doorbell rings (12 times), someone new comes for a holiday visit, starting with Granny and the sweet potato pie she brings to the main character. Then more relatives with kids and tons of food (macaroni and cheeeeese, chitlins, side dishes) fill the house and the many tables. It’s a festive celebration! I adore the cut-out paper collage illustrations so much!
An Awesome Book of Thanks! by Dallas Clayton
You’ll love this book– both its message and its illustrations. Look at the world and all that is in it, then be thankful.
Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf, illustrated by Jenny Lovlie
A family and their friends meet in the woods to share in gratitude, faith, family, and friendship. It’s a Thanksgiving day with food, music, and laughter based on a true story.
The Thank You Dish by Trace Balla
At dinnertime, Mama and Grace start with a prayer of thanks. Mama is surprised when Grace adds all sorts of unexpected things she’s thankful for to the prayer. Like the kangaroos, for not eating all the carrots and road workers and kale. This warmly-illustrated picture book is sure to spark your own creative ways to be more thankful and kind.
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp
A simple but beautiful message of thankfulness that is still used in the Six Nations even today at ceremonial gatherings.
For Every Little Thing Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day poems selected by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Helen Cann
I adore this faith-filled gratitude book filled with prayers, poems, and blessings written by new and familiar writers. The poems begin in the morning and then move towards the night with blessings, kindness, the world, family, and friends in between. These are poems that you’ll cherish with sweet reminders about the simple joys of daily life and our connection to God.
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Day Parade by Melissa Sweet
Learn about the man who invented the huge balloon puppets that are showcased in New York City’s famous Macy’s Day Parade. This Thanksgiving book is exceptionally illustrated in collage and mixed media by Melissa Sweet.
Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson
Did you know that a persistent editor named Sarah Hale petitioned for 35 years to make Thanksgiving a holiday? Her determination paid off, too. Finally, Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official holiday. Read the whole story in this historical picture book.
Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Greg Shed
Narrated in the first person by a man called Squanto, read the story of his capture by Spanish explorers, then eventually returned to his homeland in North America, where he befriended the English pilgrims and taught them how to survive.
The Mayflower (History Smashers) by Kate Messner, illustrated by Dylan Meconis
Fascinating facts explain the not-always-balanced perspective of primary sources and the usefulness of archeology in showing a clearer picture of history. The author debunks myths like Plymouth Rock and the First Thanksgiving, explaining the plague that decimated the Wampanoag people prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival. It’s clearly well-researched with a broad perspective, accessible, and easy to read with cartoons, illustrations, diagrams, and informational inserts.
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace
I used this Thanksgiving book in the classroom to show a multi-dimensional view of the first Thanksgiving, specifically, the viewpoint of the indigenous peoples who were affected by the colonization and their point of view of the first celebration.
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