My Favorite Thanksgiving Books


Some people find that Thanksgiving is a difficult holiday to explain to young children. Their concept of time is not yet very sophisticated, so last week seems like years ago to them. And I guess, in view of their short lives thus far, it really is a long time ago. Below, I've pictured and described some of my favorite books for this time of year and have divided them into a few different categories. Of course, there are many more books out there, but these are the ones that I have in my personal library.


The First Thanksgiving - Since I do want to at least introduce the story of the First Thanksgiving in America to them and I have found a few books that seem to do it pretty well: (Affiliate links to find these books on Amazon are included if you click on the name of the book.)

The Littlest Pilgrimby Brandi Doughtery  This books tells the story of a very young little Pilgrim girl as her family prepares for the big feast. 

The First Thanskgiving by Jean Craighead George    Beautiful illustrations tell of the first Thanksgiving are accompanied by a very detailed story. It is too long for most young children, but you can re-tell the story in your own words using the pictures.

Thanksgiving Day -  by Gail Gibbons   This is a very simply worded story of the first Thanksgiving that many young children can enjoy. The illustrations and brightly colored graphics.

Oh, What a Thanksgiving!   by Steven Kroll    This story is about a modern day boy can imagine what the first celebration must have been like from studying it in school. 

My First Thanksgiving   by Tomie dePaola  Tomie dePaola is a favorite of mine and this simple board book is perfect for the very young child. It simply describes some of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

The First Thanksgiving Pop-up Book - A Golden Pop-up Book illustrated by Robert Sauber. This small pop-up book that I bought off of a sale table years ago is always a favorite of every child I read it to. It simply tells the history of the Pilgrims alongside several beautiful pop-up illustrations.


Because Native Americans were so instrumental in the formation of America so long ago, I often find this is a good time to share some of their culture although, only two of these books are actually Thanksgiving books.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush  by Tomie dePaola  Both of these books tell the legends of native wildflowers with wonderful illustrations.

Young Pocahontas and Young Squanto  - Troll First-Start Biographies    While both books are biographies, the book about Squanto also tells the story of the first Thanksgiving.

Giving Thanks - by Rita Walsh   A young native American boy learns that there are so many things to be thankful for in this sweet book.

Indian Bunny - This is the sweetest book about a little bunny who sneaks through the forest just like the Native Americans. It is an old book with simple drawings that we love!


The historical aspect of the First Thanksgiving may be a difficult concept for very young children, so I generally stress the idea of feeling thankful for all the wonderful things that we have. Here are a few books that explain that concept easily:

Feeling Thankful- by Shelley Rotner and Shelia Kelly, Ed.D.   Actual photographs of children are used to illustrate this book filled with things to be thankful for. 

Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks - by Margaret Sutherland    Simple text talks about many different things that young children can be thankful for.



And, of course, there are some books that are just for fun!

Milly and the Macy's Parade - by Shana Cory   Based loosely on fact, this beautifully illustrated book tells of the very first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Five Silly Turkeys  - by Salina Yoon    The very youngest children will enjoy this silly book with bright colors and shiny tail feathers on each page.

Where is Turkey Lurking? - by Stephanie St. Pierre   A pilgrim boy goes in search of a Thanksgiving Day turkey. . . but not for the reason you might think. There is even a cookie recipe at the end of the book.

I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie - by Alison Jackson   Based on the age-old rhyme, this old lady has a ferocious appetite, but she ends up the center of attention in a traditional celebration.



To introduce them to things that happened long ago is sometimes difficult, therefore, I generally focus more on the concept of being thankful in the here and now.