Thanksgiving Books

Reinforce the concept of gratitude and the spirit of togetherness as you start a new holiday tradition with your children this Thanksgiving: reading books! Some of the books on this list take you back in time so children can see what it was like at the very first Thanksgiving. Other books explore what Thanksgiving means to families today. A few of the books are just plain funny! Enjoy snuggling up with your children and celebrating the holiday!

Thanks for Thanksgiving Julie Markes

It’s time to say thanks for all the good things we have, but where do we start? This book reminds kids about the everyday pleasures that make life so enjoyable. Richly colored illustrations from award-winning artist Doris Barrette fill the pages with joy and excitement. It’s a sweet story told with rhyme that will delight young preschoolers.

The Thankful Book Todd Parr

Being thankful for underwear and crazy hair? Yes, the playful kids in this book are exactly that! The author takes a non-traditional approach to express gratitude for a few things that are often forgotten. The author’s simple language and bright, bold pictures combine for a book that’s sure to be pulled off the shelf again and again. A great Thanksgiving read for preschoolers.

Balloons Over Broadway Melissa Sweet

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a holiday tradition for many families, but most of us have no idea how the tradition of those ginormous balloons got started. This book tells the story of Tony Sarg, the man who created them. The vivid pictures and scrapbook-style illustrations make the book engaging for children and adults. The narrative recounts Tony’s life and brings children along for the excitement of his unique creations. This book is a great read-aloud for children in early elementary grades.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? Carol McCloud

This meaningful book explains what it means to be a "bucket filler" and what it means to be a "bucket dipper." The metaphor helps parents and teachers explain concepts like empathy, kindness, gratitude, and a sense of community to young children. It’s sure to spark lots of conversations with little ones. Read it side-by-side with your preschoolers and elementary kids.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message Chief Jake Swamp

This book of thankfulness is based on the traditional Thanksgiving Address from the Iroquois Native people. The words give thanks for Mother Earth and all the precious gifts she gives. Each page is brief but offers heartfelt thanks for the gifts we use every day. The warm paintings utilize a perfect blend of colors and enrich the Native American focus. Kids and adults of any age can appreciate this message of gratitude.

How to Catch a Turkey Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton

A turkey with a case of stage fright runs amok in this hilarious Thanksgiving tale. Go along as the children try to corral the turkey in the science room, in the cafeteria, and all over the school. This book makes a wonderful addition to the "How to Catch" series. Children older than eight will be able to enjoy the book on their own, but it makes a great read-aloud for younger elementary students, too.

Thanksgiving in the Woods Phyllis Alsdurf

This book tells the true story of a unique Thanksgiving tradition: a family in New York who hosts their Thanksgiving gathering in the woods every year. Everyone packs up food to share and gathers in the nearby forest. There are bonfires and long tables, hay bales and candles, music and laughter. It’s an almost magical gathering of friends and family that creates the perfect celebration. The lyrical story makes this a great Thanksgiving Eve bedtime book for elementary children.

The Night Before Thanksgiving Natasha Wing

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving and the house was busy! This rhyming book takes children through the traditional Thanksgiving celebration—with a few twists thrown in. Uncle Norm is stuck in a storm and dad drops the turkey! This cute story will have little ones laughing and get them excited for the upcoming holiday traditions in their own homes. It’s a great read-aloud for preschoolers and kindergartners.

Bear Says Thanks Karma Wilson

The charming Bear is at it again, but this time with a Thanksgiving flare. He wants to host a big feast, but his cupboards are bare. That is until his friends arrive with plenty of food to share. Bear’s furry forest friends are illustrated in such a lively way that children will want to be their friends, too. This story offers great lessons about friendship, gratitude, and sharing. A great bedtime book for everyone!

The Circle of Thanks Joseph Bruchac

This book includes 14 poems and songs with themes of thanksgiving and appreciation of nature. The text is based in part on the traditional culture of the Pawnee, Kwakiutl, Navajo, Cherokee, and Papago people. Full color, realistic artwork fills the pages. This book takes a more serious tone and is best suited for upper elementary readers.

If You Were a Kid on the Mayflower John Son

What was it like to travel aboard the Mayflower? Kids can learn in this book! They will follow along as Hope and Theodore make the 66-day journey to America. The book is packed with tidbits of information about the food the passengers ate, the crowded quarters below deck, the dangers they faced at sea, and much more. Kids 6 and up will enjoy this informational story.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey Lucille Colandro

Books about this crazy old lady never disappoint! This Thanksgiving edition has her swallowing a turkey, a ball, a hat, and everything else her stomach can handle. What will happen in the end? It’s a real surprise!

I Am Thankful Sheri Wall

This rhyming picture book follows three different families as they celebrate Thanksgiving. They all have different traditions, but a thankful chorus repeats every few pages. Sweet images of families of all sizes, ages, and colors are featured in the story. It makes the perfect Thanksgiving book for the whole family.

Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving Kimberly and James Dean

Read along and lift the flaps to see what happens when Pete the Cat is the star of the children’s Thanksgiving play. This book follows the traditional retelling of how the pilgrims and the Native Americans came together on the first Thanksgiving. It’s a great way to introduce young children to the history behind the holiday.

Turkey Trouble Wendi Silvano

You know what happens to turkeys on Thanksgiving and it isn’t good! This hilarious story follows one turkey as he tries to disguise himself in order to avoid being eaten. He’ll become a cow, a pig, and a sheep, but none of the disguises work. Then, he comes up with something truly genius! The watercolor illustrations bring Turkey and his farm friends to life. Preschoolers will beg to read this clever story every year!

The World is Awake for Little Ones Linsey Davis

This Christian book is based on Psalm 118:24 - "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." The rhyming text follows children from their backyard, to the zoo, to the farmer’s market, and back home to their dinner table—appreciating all of God’s gifts along the way. Joyful, whimsical illustrations show fun details of the story. Snuggle up and read this one with your preschoolers or early elementary kids.

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