I am thankful for books. I am thankful for the ability to use them to teach , to entertain , and to deepen my children’s love of reading. I hope one of these books about Thanksgiving strikes a chord with you and your family and can be used to teach , entertain , and deepen a love of reading at your house too. All book lists contain affiliate links.
A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman is such a cute and funny book about a town that needs a turkey and the hilarious lengths they go to to find one. The town is sadly outwitted by the turkey and end up eating shredded wheat for thanksgiving. The illustrations kept my little man interested when he was a toddler but he only started understanding the dark humor at around 4. I love this book because of the humor makes me giggle. My son was a little off put by the idea of the towns folk eating the turkey and was relived when he escaped before they shoved him in the oven. I like that he is starting to understand that the meat he eats is actually a cooked animal, we take that for granted but for many young kids this is a huge realization!
Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving by Kimberly and James Dean was underwhelming and I usually adore Pete The Cat. Sadly this book didn’t live up to my expectations. My daughter liked it but wondered when Pete was going to sing. He doesn’t. There are no catchy repetitive refrains which is what we love about Pete! My son pointed out the flaws in the history which thrilled me because they were distracting. The target audience is younger than my son so it may not even be an issue for you but seeing a pretty little house as the shelter the Pilgrims had for the first winter irked me. I realize that Pete is a cat who is in a play so realism isn’t expected but I’d be lying if I said I loved it. Pete is awfully cute as a pilgrim though.
10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston was a classroom favorite, it’s about as silly as a book gets and the kids had no clue they were actually learning about subtraction while listening to the crazy rhymes. This won’t explain the pilgrims , or talk about the Mayflower, but it will make your kids laugh! Very cute!
Two Bad Pilgrims by Kathryn Lasky is a fantastic book that some parents might not like but kids will love it and learn a lot in the process. It’s about two boys who really did sail abroad the Mayflower and whose behavior really was bad. There is a ton of not usually shared information about Pilgrims in this book and as someone who studied colonial history I am in LOVE with this book. The format is a mix of non fiction and comic strip like narrative. I would read it to kids 5 and older although younger children might like just the narrative. There is a ton of info in this book and it would be a wonderful tool to talk about how history books don’t always tell the whole story.
Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes delighted my whole family. I read it at dinner and all four of us thought the book was spot on. It’s not a story so much as a glimpse at all the things kids in a average family have to be thankful about. The illustrations by Doris Barrette are stunning. I want to frame them. I think this book does a great job at teaching children what they have to be thankful for and how everyday things can be something to be thankful for. Kids will relate so well to this book and because of that the message comes across loud and clear. My son loved that there is space on the last page to write what he is thankful for. Great find.
This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story by Laura Krauss Melmed is a stunning gem of a book. I can’t believe I haven’t read it before, normally great books like this go through teaching circles like wildfire. The book has so many layers it will keep toddlers and preschoolers alike busy and engaged. The text explains the first Thanksgiving while counting 1-10 in rhyming poetry and the illustrations by Mark Buehner have hidden treasures, see if you can find them! After I return this to the library, I will be buying it for sure!
Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey was such a treat to read. It’s a reworking of the classic Christmas poem, with a Thanksgiving twist. A bus full of kids head off to the turkey farm the day before Thanksgiving and are immediately enamored with the birds. When a child asks the farmer what the axe by the door is for… well let’s just say the truth is told and the kids fall apart. They don’t stay down for long though, the kids outsmart the farmer and their teacher to save the turkeys from the axe. Somehow the author finds a way to make the possible slaughter of these happy friendly, named turkey’s funny. My son was giggling while I was kinda nervous that they’d get the axe! Great rhymes throughout this hilarious book!
You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie by Amy E. Sklansky is a cozy book that will have you craving a pumpkin spice latte for sure. It’s simple rhyming text is a good length for toddlers but older preschoolers will enjoy it as well. The books shows babies and their parent(s) in all different fall settings from the pumpkin patch to snuggling by the fire and of course eating pumpkin pie. The illustrations by Talitha Shipman are perfect and showcase a diverse set of families. Lovely book but don’t think I was joking you will be aching for a fall treat after reading it.
Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’ by Eileen Spinelli is a really cute story that offers many opportunities for parents to talk about lying, disappointment and what really matters at Thanksgiving. The Tappleton’s Thanksgiving dinner is doomed, first the turkey falls in the pond, then there are no pies left at the bakery and then continues to get worse. No one wants to be the person to ruin the holiday dinner and keeps it a secret that the part of the meal that was their responsibility is ruined. Of course this means they end up eating liverwurst and pickles for dinner but Grandma saves Thanksgiving by reminding them all that it doesn’t matter what they are eating but who they are eating with.
Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (Time-Traveling Twins) by Diane Stanley . I can’t say enough good things about this book, but I will try. The story starts with a time traveling grandmother who takes her grand kids back to the Plymouth plantation days before what is often called the 1st Thanksgiving. My son was hooked on this book with the revelation of the time traveling and I loved that it put all the common myths surrounding Thanksgiving and the pilgrims to the forefront and included the true history without wrecking any cherished views of this beloved holiday. The book is long as it should be in order to go into the depth of what life was like for the Pilgrims and how they learned with help of the local Native Americans how to survive in this new land. While reading it to my son I was so happy to hear him say ” I learned that today , that’s in my book!” to many of the text. I am buying this book tonight, and returning it to the library in hope of many other families being able to read and love it as much as we did.
Thanksgiving Treat by Catherine Stock is a really heart warming book that will take you back to family gatherings of your childhood. The story follows the Thanksgiving day preparations of an extended family and one little boy who just wants to help. He goes from one job to the next where he is always told he is too little, or it’s too dangerous for him to do, and he should go somewhere else. Finally his Grandpa steps in with a very important job and the sad little boy is given new hope to be helpful. I remember being too little, and I know that from time to time my son is told he is too little too, this book is a kind reminder of finding ways to make even our littlest family members feel important and included. My son really liked it as well, while reading it today he stopped me and listed some of the things he is still too little to do, and the things that he has recently been able to do independently. Great book to sit down and talk about with your child.
T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Storyby Tanya Lee Stone is a cute alphabet book with simple but accurate facts about Thanksgiving. I love that there is such a push for telling kids about what really happened and not just the closely held myths. The reader follows a long with a class play that covers all the important parts of the first Thanksgiving from the Mayflower landing on. This is a great introduction for young preschoolers. The illustrations are fun and rich so there is more than just the limited text to explore.
Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland is book that explains what Thanksgiving is, and gives lots of examples of things to be thankful for. I like this book although I could go without the page where the narrator is thankful for lollipops, all the other things are wonderful like a teacher’s encouragement, grandma’s hugs, and sunny days and to me the lollipops sorta fall flat. Easily skipped over if you are not keen on it but the book as a whole is valuable teaching tool about thanksgiving. * Edited 2012 Both my kids love this book and I have no clue why I was so uptight about the lollipops reference?! I have chilled out as a mom I guess. Both my kids list what we think of as little things like lollipops on their things to be thankful for and that’s great . As a parent I just want them to be appreciative of things even if lollipops are lumped in with bedtime snuggles and family time.