Besides being (for many) the best meal of the year, Thanksgiving brings with it a season for expressing gratitude, gathering with family and friends and focusing on our blessings. Whether you celebrate with turkey or duck, remember the Mayflower pilgrims or more recent immigrants who came to America in search of freedom, or eat with family or friends, Thanksgiving holds a special significance for many. To get you in the mood, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about Thanksgiving.
Because Thanksgiving has so many aspects—historical and modern—we’ve included something for everyone on our list of the best thanksgiving books, ranging from silly parody books like “‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving” to beautifully illustrated stories of historical figures who made Thanksgiving a reality like “Thank You, Sarah”. There are some popular, contemporary titles such as “Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving” or #1 New York Times Bestseller “Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks” as well as more classic tales such as Caldecott-Honor winning “The Thanksgiving Story”.
This list includes board, picture and chapter books. Thanksgiving board books are typically best for babies and toddlers. If you’re looking for Thanksgiving stories for toddlers and early elementary students, picture books are your best best. Chapter books are generally ideal for upper elementary and middle school readers, but are also great for adults to read aloud to younger ages or the whole family at once! You can scroll through all age groups simultaneously, or filter to a single type of books to help you find the best books for your family more quickly.
And now, without further ado, enjoy the list! We’re grateful for these books and hope you will be too—feel free to let us know if there are any you think deserve to make the list!
Presents a tribute to the creator of the giant balloons that fill the sky during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, tracing the work of artist Tony Sarg, whose innovative “upside-down puppet” creations have become the parade’s trademark.
This is a very sweet story about a young girl who moved to a new place and was teased by the other girls in her school. I love to see how she overcame these hardships and how life became sweet for her again.
A modern Thanksgiving classic about an immigrant girl who comes to identify with the story of the Pilgrims, as she seeks religious freedom and a home in a new land.
As Molly nears her first Thanksgiving in the New World, she doesn’t find much to be thankful for. Her classmates giggle at her Yiddish accent and make fun of her unfamiliarity with American ways.
Molly’s embarassed when her mother helps with a class Thanksgiving project by making a little doll that looks more like a Russian refugee than a New England Pilgrim. But the tiny modern-day pilgrim just might help Molly to find a place for herself in America.
The touching story tells how recent immigrant Molly leads her third-grade class to discover that it takes all kinds of pilgrims to make a Thanksgiving. Originally published in 1983, Molly’s Pilgrim inspired the 1986 Academy Award-winning live-action short film.
This book is beautiful both in the illustrations and the sweet, simple message—to be grateful for the beautiful world we live in and the loving people around us! It’s a pretty short and sweet book, but I think it’s gorgeous and has an important message.
Sweet, simple blessings that encourage thoughtful gratitude for life’s daily gifts and wonders. This accessible, wholesome board book is perfect for teaching babies and toddlers how to count their blessings every day. With simple, graspable text that inspires mindful thinking, and warm, vibrant illustrations, For Giving Thanks will fill children’s minds with positive thoughts and help them appreciate life’s special gifts.
Maggie and her grandmother each invite a guest to their Thanksgiving feast, featuring Grandmother’s own cranberry bread, made from a secret recipe. “A tried and true recipe for an entertaining story that will delight young readers”.—Catholic Library World. Full-color illustrations.
Tuyet’s struggle with her emotions as she feels like her family doesn’t fit in and is doing Thanksgiving wrong is powerful through her child’s eyes. This glimpse of the way that different cultures celebrate Thanksgiving by focusing on the essence of the holiday rather than specific American foods is a beautiful reminder of what matters most on Thanksgiving—family and friends, not the Turkey. This book is a reminder to be inclusive and accepting!
When Tuyet finds out that her Vietnamese family is having duck rather than turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, she is upset until she finds out that other children in her class did not eat turkey either.
Thank You, Sarah - The Book Snob Mom - Based on a true story that you probably have never heard of before, this book will introduce you to the woman whose persistence made Thanksgiving a national holiday, bringing the country all together to celebrate! The tone is empowering, and while historical, isn’t dull, plus the illustrations are great!
How Many Days to America? - Refugees from a Caribbean island embark on a dangerous boat trip to America where they have a special reason to celebrate Thanksgiving.
The Night Before Thanksgiving - The Book Snob Mom - A clever Thanksigiving rendition of the classic “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”! The text trips off the tongue just like you’d expect and it isn’t too forced, and the story beautifully captures many Thanksgiving traditions that the nation holds hear: classic food, family, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving - Describes how the Massachusetts Indian Squanto was captured by the British, sold into slavery in Spain, and ultimately returned to the New World to become a guide and friend for the Pilgrims.
Mini is the littlest Pilgrim in her village. She’s too little to sew. Too little to bake. Too little to fish. But she’s not too little to make a friend.
Celebrate food and family with this heartwarming Thanksgiving picture book. “We will share the risen bread. / Our made-with-love Thanksgiving spread. / Grateful to be warm and fed. / We will share the bread.” In this spirited ode to the holiday, set at the turn of the twentieth century, a large family works together to make their special meal. Mama prepares the turkey, Daddy tends the fire, Sister kneads, and Brother bastes. Everyone—from Grandma and Grandpa to the littlest baby—has a special job to do. Told in spare, rhythmic verse and lively illustrations, Sharing the Bread is a perfect read-aloud to celebrate the Thanksgiving tradition.
“A warm and wonderful holiday treasure.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred
“A paean to the pleasures of Thanksgiving, with rhymes so musical readers may just burst into song.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A delightful holiday book that shows the heartwarming tradition of food and family.” —Booklist
Nancy Davis recreates the excitement and wonder of the first Thanksgiving—how the pilgrims came to America and how the Native Americans taught them to plant and then joined them in a Thanksgiving feast. Parents can use the simple text and the bright, graphic illustrations of this lift-the-flap book to introduce a very young child to this holiday.
On Thanksgiving Day while everyone naps, Mouse spots one pea, a perfect feast, but he cannot help adding all of the fixings—until Cat spots him, in a story about giving thanks for little things. 12,500 first printing.
In 1620 an English ship called the Mayflower landed on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket, and it was Squanto who welcomed the newcomers and taught them how to survive. When a good harvest was gathered, the people feasted together—a tradition that continues almost four hundred years later.
Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving - Join Pete in New York Times bestselling artist James Dean’s Pete the Cat picture book series as Pete celebrates Thanksgiving in this groovy lift-the-flap book! Starring in the school Thanksgiving play would make even the coolest cat nervous. But when Pete the Cat gets onstage, he makes learning the story of the first Thanksgiving fun. With thirteen flaps that open to reveal hidden surprises, this book is sure to be a holiday favorite for every Pete the Cat fan.
You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie - B is for Bookworm - This festive board book is perfect to celebrate Thanksgiving, especially to help show your little reader how much you’re thankful for them. Comparing the baby to the yummy Thanksgiving treat makes this a fun, warm, and sweet read.
Turkey Trouble - As Thanksgiving Day approaches, Turkey nervously makes a series of costumes, disguising himself as other farm animals in hopes that he can avoid being served as Thanksgiving dinner.
A Turkey for Thanksgiving - Mr. and Mrs. Moose try to invite a turkey to their Thanksgiving feast.
In this festive Caldecott Honor–winning picture book, Alice Dalgiesh brings to life the origin of the Thanksgiving holiday for readers of all ages.
Giles, Constance and Damaris Hopkins are all passengers aboard the crowded Mayflower, journeying to the New World to start a new life. Things get a little more cramped when their baby brother Oceanus is born during the passage. However, when they arrive, there are even worse challenges to face as the Pilgrims are subjected to hunger, cold, and sickness that put their small colony in great danger. With the help of the Native Americans though, they might just be able to survive their first year in this strange land—and have a November harvest to celebrate for generations!
Tomie dePaola’s simple text and bright illustrations perfectly capture the joy of this special holiday. Young readers will love learning more about the traditional celebrations of the day.
A turkey is running loose in a school right before a Thanksgiving play. Can YOU help catch it? Fun and chaos ensue as students turn their school upside down trying to catch the turkey, ending with a twist that ensures no turkeys are harmed (or eaten!).
The townspeople of Squawk Valley try to trick a turkey into being their Thanksgiving dinner, but are frustrated when the turkey tricks them instead.
This silly rhyming story about ten turkeys teaches children how to count backwards.
“Looky!” says a silly turkey swinging from a vine. Gobble gobble wibble wobble. Whoops! Now there are nine.
Girls and boys will gobble up this hilarious story about ten goofy turkeys and their silly antics: swinging from a vine, strutting on a boar, doing a noodle dance, and more. Veteran author Tony Johnston has written a joyful text, which first-time illustrator Richard Deas brings to life as wild and wacky fun!
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey! - The old lady is at it again, and this time she’s swallowing a Turkey . . . she’s always been quirky! You won’t believe why this old lady swallowed a turkey, a ball, a hat, a balloon, a boat, some wheels, and a horn of plenty! Read this book and find out why!
Thanksgiving on Thursday - Jack and Annie travel in their magic treehouse to the year 1621, where they celebrate the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in the New Plymouth Colony.
I Love to Gobble You Up! - Give thanks for your little ones with kisses, hugs, and GOBBLES of love all throughout the holiday season with this backlist holiday classic.
Llama Llama Gives Thanks - In Llama Llama Gives Thanks, it’s Thanksgiving time for Llama Llama and his family! That means yummy foods and autumn leaves and being thankful for everything from pumpkin pies to blue skies. Thanksgiving may only come once year, but in Llama’s family, giving thanks is always here! With short and simple rhyming text, the Llama Llama board books introduce Llama Llama to babies and toddlers before they’re ready for longer full-length stories. And their small size and durable pages are perfect for little hands.
On a trip to the farmers’ market with her parents, Sophie chooses a squash, but instead of letting her mom cook it, she names it Bernice. From then on, Sophie brings Bernice everywhere, despite her parents’ gentle warnings that Bernice will begin to rot. As winter nears, Sophie does start to notice changes…. What’s a girl to do when the squash she loves is in trouble?
The recipient of four starred reviews, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor, and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor, Sophie’s Squash will be a fresh addition to any collection of autumn books.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh—so hop in, hold tight, and join the journey in this dazzling holiday classic!
In this stunning paper-over-board picture book, a blustering wind stings the toes and bites the nose, but hearts are warm and there’s lots to eat—for ‘tis Thanksgiving Day! Bundle up as you navigate a winter wonderland of sparkling snow-covered trees and adorable woodland creatures in this cherished holiday tale. Coupled with Emma Randall’s delightful illustrations, the familiar poem-turned-song is the perfect way to celebrate the season. Just remember to leave room for pumpkin pie!
Being thankful is a year-round blessing for Otis the tractor!
Giving thanks makes Otis happy. He gives thanks for the land and country he loves. Otis is thankful for time to play games like hide-and-seek and ring-around-the-rosy. He cherishes his farm friends who make life on the ranch as happy as can be. And most of all, everyone’s favorite tractor is thankful for the greatest thing in life: love.
Told with a sense of warmth, heart, and above all else, gratefulness, this is an uplifting tale that speaks to the soul of Otis’ character and reminds readers that taking the time to appreciate our lives is a virtue in itself. From the creator of the Otis series, and the illustrator of The Little Engine That Could and Of Thee I Sing by President Barack Obama.
When the nights start to get cooler and the corn is ready for picking, it’s time for autumn fun at the farm! Tractor Mac loves the fall, but he’s just too big for the orchard, where he is stuck harvesting apples that Farmer Bill will make into delicious treats. Across the road, Small Fred the tractor is busy with the Pumpkin Picking Festival, but he’s just too small to pull all of the people who want to go on a hayride. Working together, Tractor Mac and Small Fred figure out a way to share their chores and share the fun.
What is Thanksgiving? It’s turkey and pumpkin pie, but most of all it’s a time to spend with family and friends. With photographs to look at and Thanksgiving words to learn, this sturdy board book is ideal for adults to read and share with very young children to introduce them to this special holiday.
Thank You, Bees - This gentle message of gratitude and connection, enhanced by beautifully simple collage illustrations, makes for a charming gift. Sun gives us light. Thank you, sun. Clouds bring the rain that makes puddles to splash in. Sheep give us wool for our sweaters and hats. The honey that sweetens our bread comes from bees (thank you, bees). With spare, repetitive text and bright, torn-paper collage artwork, this picture book gives even the youngest readers a subtle sense of how everyday things are related — and inspires an appreciation for life’s simple gifts.
Katie Saves Thanksgiving - When a snowstorm causes the power to go out, Katie and her parents think their Thanksgiving dinner with JoJo and Pedro is ruined, but by being a good neighbor, Katie manages to save the day. Simultaneous.
The Little Kid's Table - Everyone knows that the little kids table is the place to be for any holiday or family gathering. They just know how to have fun! This silly, rhyming story follows a group of rambunctious cousins from table setting to dessert. A universal theme, The Little Kids Table will have kids—and parents!—howling with laughter.
Happy Thanksgiving Day! - A touch-and-feel book that celebrates Thanksgiving and encourages gratitude for blessings in a child’s life. In this new touch-and-feel board book, textures and bright artwork bring to life the things children experience at Thanksgiving. The narrator lists things for which he or she is thankful. Tactile experiences throughout the book engage the reader and help children to connect the book to the textures in their actual surroundings. Soft, vibrant watercolor illustrations add warmth and sweetness to the book.
A giant turkey is on the loose! And everyone is on the case—Nate, his cousin Olivia, his dog, Sludge, and even his friend Claude. But from talking turkey to stalking turkey, will every detective come out a winner?
On Thanksgiving Day, a girl who has just turned eight loudly insists that she be permitted to sit at the dining room table, rather than with the babies.
Ladybug Girl gives thanks for all her favorite things in this board book, perfect for the New York Times bestselling series’s youngest fans
Lulu has much to be thankful for: Bingo, the trees, her books, her friends and family, and, of course, pumpkin pie! This sweet, simple board book is perfect to share with Ladybug Girl’s littlest fans at Thanksgiving—or any time you’re feeling thankful.