Thanksgiving books are great for gathering your children and celebrating this season! This list of books is sure to inspire gratitude in your kids, teach them the history of Thanksgiving, and encourage you all to share a giggle over something silly!
The Best Thanksgiving Books for Kids
I organized this list of Thanksgiving books for kids into three categories: history of Thanksgiving, books about gratitude, and humorous Thanksgiving children’s books. Don’t worry about trying to find every book on the list; I recommend sourcing 2-3 from each category.
Typically I buy a few new Thanksgiving books each year, and check out the rest from the library. If a book from the library ends up being a favorite, that’s usually one of the ones I purchase the following season. My oldest is 9 now, so we’ve amassed quite a collection!
Word to the wise: plan ahead if you’re using the library. Ours is very competitive! I usually have to reserve the books farther in advance than I actually want them. Sometimes I have to return them the week before Thanksgiving, but that’s okay, we like to read Thanksgiving books October and November!
Some of these books are going to become treasured favorites that your family will look forward to every year! Here’s our list of 21 delightful Thanksgiving books for kids:
Historical Thanksgiving Books for Kids
What is Thanksgiving? What happened at the first Thanksgiving? When did it happen? Why is Thanksgiving a national holiday? Why is there a parade with giant balloons in NYC on Thanksgiving?
Teach your kids the history and meaning of Thanksgiving with these children’s Thanksgiving books that focus on different aspects of the history of this holiday.
The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
There’s a reason this was a Caldecott winner – it’s a classic! The illustrations are inviting, and the text covers the hard times and the good times all while maintaining a tone that makes it easy to keep reading.
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
This book was new to me this year, but I really like the emphasis on how miraculous the first Thanksgiving was! How many things had to fall into place? This story helps me not to take easily overlooked details of Squanto’s story and the first Thanksgiving for granted!
The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern
Can you imagine a Thanksgiving feast that lasts for THREE whole days?! This book covers the days of gratitude and feasting and invites children to feel the same gratitude and joy that everyone present at the first Thanksgiving seemed to share!
Who’s That Stepping On Plymouth Rock? by Jean Fritz
Read about what made Plymouth Rock so famous – and learn about how the facts don’t necessarily add up with the legend! I’m always interested in a book that encourages critical thinking! This little piece of history is a really fascinating story I hadn’t given much thought to before reading this book.
Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey
Our tradition has become to read a chapter of this book every day around the time of Thanksgiving. It provides excellent context to the story of the Pilgrims, going all the way back to when they were still in England! It’s beautifully written and held my children’s attention even when they were very young.
Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
This story is a sweet piece of fiction, but there is a dated map at the beginning of the story and a diagram about the ship that I found very impressive. Even though this is a children’s book, it doesn’t shy away from some of the intense grief the Pilgrims had to bear, so keep that in mind with sensitive audiences.
Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson
Do your kids know how Thanksgiving became a national holiday? I certainly didn’t know this incredible back story! This is a very inspiring account about one woman’s persistence.
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
Confession: my kids didn’t even know the Thanksgiving Day Parade was a thing! This is a fascinating biographical story (beautifully illustrated too) that brings a whole new meaning to this NYC tradition.
Take my word for it: this children’s Thanksgiving book is worth reading whether or not you or your family are fans of the Thanksgiving day parade. Balloons Over Broadway is a celebration of innovation & creativity more than anything else!
Thanksgiving Books for Kids About Being Thankful
Yes, there will be food. And probably someone will watch football at some point. And we’ll all have a lot of fun!
But what I want my kids to focus on every year, is that Thanksgiving is an important reminder to be grateful for every blessing our lives! These books about gratitude always seem to strike a chord in our hearts and inspire wonderful conversation.
Bear Says Thanks by: Karma Wilson
Part of the beloved Bear series, I can’t recommend this Thanksgiving book enough! We have read this story every Thanksgiving season for 8 years in a row and counting.
My big kids still ask for this story, and my little kids want to hear it over & over. Bear Says Thanks is one of those rare children’s books that I don’t get tired of reading, the rhythm of the story is just right!
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
“Wait, you’re telling me Louisa May Alcott wrote a Thanksgiving story?!” Yes, yes I am. You’re welcome. Note that this is an adapted, illustrated version. The full version of this heartwarming short story is available here.
A Big, Quiet House: A Yiddish Folk Tale From Eastern Europe Retold by: Heather Forest
We read this folktale all year long because it’s just so fun! There is a very important moral to this story that this mama needed to hear: be grateful for what you have, and if you aren’t feeling very grateful, a little perspective will certainly help!
The Shiny Penny by: Bob Gold
Not specifically written to be a Thanksgiving book, but The Shiny Penny inspires some great conversations about gratitude and the power of just a little. It’s a book that encourages humility and valuing even the small things that others may view as inconsequential.
The Berenstein Bears Count Their Blessings by Stan and Jan Berenstein
There are actually quite a few wonderful Berenstein Bear books about Thanksgiving, but I really appreciate this one’s focus on gratitude in times of fear. It’s an important reminder for grown ups too!
Androcles and the Lion Retold by: Dennis Nolan
This is a story traditionally noted in Aesop’s fables, but this is a stand alone version about the power of gratitude. It can change your life, even SAVE you from getting eaten by a lion!
Thankful Eileen Spinelli
Fall leaves, cute illustrations, and a charming message about gratitude. There’s not a whole lot more a mama can ask for in a Thanksgiving book for kids!
I love the way this story explores what a variety of people in a town are feeling grateful for. Even gratitude can sometimes become about ourselves, and this brings about the realization that different people are grateful for different things – and that’s a good thing!
Funny Thanksgiving Books for Kids
I love a good laugh, and there is something so cozy about reading a humorous picture book together on the couch!
We have enjoyed learning so much Thanksgiving history through books, and being inspired to practice gratitude through children’s books, but some of our most treasured memories are the giggles we share over a funny story!
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende Devlin
This book is so funny! Not in a super silly way, but if you want to find out what happens when granddaughter Maggie invites an old nemesis of her grandmother’s to Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll have to read it!
Bonus – it features a recipe (THE recipe, mind you!) in the back. My kids are obsessed with picture books that have recipes in the back – some of our favorite recipes have been discovered this way!
A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
How do you convince a very suspicious turkey that you don’t want to eat him for dinner? You just want him to sit at your table! This is the conundrum Mr. Moose faces in this silly and sweet Thanksgiving books for kids.
Fried Feathers for Thanksgiving by James Stevenson
My guess as to why this book isn’t known as a Thanksgiving classic is because it revolves around green witches celebrating Thanksgiving! A little unexpected, but there are some clever slights of hand, a nice heroine, and it really does make us giggle!
Parents in the Pigpen, Pigs in the Tub by Amy Ehrlich
This book really is just plain silly and we enjoy that! What happens when the barnyard animals tire of the yard and move themselves in to the house? Hilarity ensues!
‘Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
Disclaimer: I am NOT a Captain Underpants fan and call me whatever you want, we don’t read that series around here. Needless to say, I was skeptical when this children’s book about Thanksgiving, written by Dav Pilkey, was recommended to me. Turns out, it’s a humorous and heartwarming story and I think your crew will like it too – whether or not you’re into Captain Underpants.
We’re mad lib crazy. We do a lot of mad libs! These Thanksgiving ones are hilarious AND are our favorite way to practice our parts of speech!
That’s our list! You’re sure to find a family favorite. Enjoy this season, and check out some other ideas below to celebrate fall & Thanksgiving!
You might also enjoy:
- 33 Easy Fall Snacks and Halloween Treats
- Happy Thanksgiving Coloring Page for Kids
- Fall Wind Sock Craft
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