Here are but a few of the many books related to the celebration of Thanksgiving. Add these to your own list of favorites.


Allegra, Mike.  Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday.  Illus. by David Gardner.  Albert Whitman, 2012.  Gr. 2-4
Engaging watercolor illustrations enhance an informative text that tells the story of Sarah Josepha Hale's lengthy quest across the terms of several presidents to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Anderson, Laurie Halse.  Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving.  Illus. by Matt Faulkner.  Simon & Schuster, 2002.  Gr. 2-4
Alarmed that Thanksgiving was a dying holiday, Sarah Josepha Hale wrote letters to presidents for 38 years until Abraham Lincoln agreed that it should be a national holiday. The illustrations contain much visual humor with images from the past and the present. Appended information provides additional facts about the Thanksgiving holiday and Sarah Hale.

Arnosky, Jim.  All About Turkeys.  Scholastic, 1998.  Gr. 2-4
The physical features, habits, and range of wild turkeys make up the text of this information-packed book. Large watercolor paintings supplement the text with additional facts and details.

Arnosky, Jim.  I'm A Turkey!  Scholastic, 2009.  Gr. Pre-3
Talk turkey with this funny homage to one of our favorite birds. It is actually a song with downloadable music. Lots of facts about turkeys included in the text.

Brown, Marc.  Arthur’s Thanksgiving.  Little, Brown, 1983.  Gr. K-2
Arthur is directing the Thanksgiving play, but he can’t find anyone who will play the turkey. He finally decides he must take matters into his own hands and realizes, with the help of his friends, that the world is full of turkeys!

Bruchac, Joseph.  Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving.  Illus. by Greg Shed.  Harcourt, 2000.  Gr. 2-4
Despite the fact that he was kidnapped and taken to Spain and that he discovered many of his people had died as a result of diseases brought by white people, Squanto acted as a mediator between the colonists and the Indians and played a significant role in the survival of the white settlers. Large gouache illustrations rich in historical detail complement the text told from the viewpoint of Squanto. An author’s note explains the research behind the story.

Bunting, Eve.  How Many Days to America?  Illus. by Beth Peck.  Clarion, 1988.  Gr. 1-4
Seeking freedom, a family leaves their island home in the Caribbean and faces a treacherous trip by boat, arriving in America just in time for Thanksgiving. Illustrations in pencil and pastels depict the emotions of fear and relief felt by the people on the boat.

Bunting, Eve.  A Turkey for Thanksgiving.  Illus. by Diane de Groat.  Clarion, 1991.  Gr. K-2
While she is preparing the feast, Mrs. Moose laments that she does not have a turkey for Thanksgiving, so her husband and their other animal dinner guests set out to find one. They are successful (much to the turkey’s chagrin), but the surprise ending leaves everyone satisfied. Cheerful illustrations highlight the joys of friendship in this ideal read-aloud.

Child, Lydia Maria.  Over the River and Through the Wood.  Illus. by Brinton Turkle.  Coward, McCann Geoghegan, 1974.  Gr. All ages
A combination of black and white and color illustrations set in old-fashioned “frames” illustrate this traditional song of the Thanksgiving season. Music included. (There are several different illustrated versions of this song.)

Cohen, Barbara.  Molly’s Pilgrim.  Illus. by Michael J. Deraney.  Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1983.
Gr. 1-3
The children at school make fun of recent immigrant Molly. When the class studies Thanksgiving and Molly brings a doll her mother made to reflect her Russian heritage, Molly realizes (with the help of her teacher) that many Pilgrims celebrate their freedoms for Thanksgiving.

Cohen, Miriam.  Don’t Eat Too Much Turkey!  Illus. by Lillian Hoban.  Greenwillow, 1987.  Gr. K-2
An abundance of activity by the first grade class (part of the series by Cohen) has them preparing for Thanksgiving with Anna Maria telling everyone else what to do, as usual. All issues are resolved by story’s end, and the friends are still friends.

Colman, Penny.  Thanksgiving: The True Story.  Henry Holt, 2008.  Gr. 4-8
Nonfiction text about the history and traditions associated with the Thanksgiving holiday.

Corey, Shana.  Milly and the Macy’s Parade.  Illus. by Brett Helquist.  Scholastic, 2002.  Gr. 1-3
Fictional Milly presents Mr. Macy with the idea of a parade to raise the holiday spirits of his store employees and involve her many immigrant friends in a celebration that will make them feel less homesick. In 1924, the first Macy’s parade took place as a blend of the holiday traditions of many cultures and remains a popular event to this day. Large colorful illustrations reflect the times. An author’s note offers additional details about the evolution of the this Thanksgiving tradition.

Cowley, Joy.  Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey.  Illus. by Joe Cepeda.  Scholastic, 1996.  Gr. K-2
Richly colored oil paintings illustrate this heartwarming story about Miguel, a Puerto Rican boy in New York City who becomes attached to the turkey that his absent truck driver father sent to be fattened for Thanksgiving.

Crane, Carol.  P Is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet.  Illus. by Helle Urban.  Sleeping Bear Press, 2007.  Gr. 3-6
Each letter of the alphabet pairs a short poem with a sidebar of facts associated with the ideas in the poem related to Thanksgiving. Colorful paintings depict America in colonial times. Some of the poems and facts are more effective combinations than others.

Cuyler, Margery.  Daisy’s Crazy Thanksgiving.  Illus. by Robin Kramer.  Henry Holt, 1990.  Gr. K-2
Daisy’s family has a restaurant, and holidays are always chaotic. This year, however, Daisy plans to spend Thanksgiving with her grandparents, an event that her mother predicts will be anything but calm.

Falwell, Cathryn.  Gobble, Gobble.  Dawn, 2011.  Gr. K-3
A curious girl follows the year-round cycle of a flock of wild turkeys and records her observations in a journal. Lovely block print collages highlight the information. Accompanying activities are available from the publisher's website.

Friedman, Laurie.  Thanksgiving Rules.  Illus. by Teresa Murfin.  Carolrhoda, 2009.  Gr. K-3
Percy Isaac Gifford has 10 rules for maximizing the Thanksgiving eating traditions. He learns, however, that there is more to the holiday than eating. Colorful cartoon-like illustrations add humor to this story about being thankful.

Gibbons, Gail.  Thanksgiving Day.  Holiday House, 1983.  Gr. K-2
An easy-to-read overview of the Pilgrims’ feast and Thanksgiving traditions of today, illustrated with brightly colored paintings. See also: Thanksgiving Is… (Holiday House, 2005).

Goode, Diane.  Thanksgiving Is Here!  HarperCollins, 2003.  Gr. K-3
Grandma and Grandpa are preparing Thanksgiving dinner, and with every ring of the doorbell, more family arrives to celebrate. Cartoon-like illustrations reflect the constant movement. This book will likely inspire student conversation about their own family Thanksgiving celebrations.

Grace, Catherine O’Neill & Bruchac, Margaret M. (with the Plimoth Plantation).  1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving.  National Geographic, 2001.  Gr. 4-6
This photo-essay presents a more historically accurate version of the three-day harvest celebration of 1621 than is typically found in books about the holiday. Well-researched and packed with information, the text offers the Wampanoag view of the Thanksgiving story. Photos taken at the Plimoth Plantation show actors in 17th century period dress.

Harness, Cheryl.  The Adventurous Life of Myles Standish and the Amazing-But-True Survival Story of the Plymouth Colony.  National Geographic, 2006.  Gr. 4-8
The life of fiery Myles Standish is integrated into the story of the colonists’ voyage and settlement of the Plymouth Colony. The text is written in a conversational tone, but packed with information and supplemented with highly detailed illustrations. A timeline runs along the bottom of the pages and places the times within a context of world events.

Harness, Cheryl.  Three Young Pilgrims.  Bradbury, 1992.  Gr. 2-5
Mary, Bartholomew, and Remember travel on the Mayflower, endure their first winter at the Plymouth Colony during which many Pilgrims, including their mother, died, and enjoy a feast of celebration with the Indians who helped them. A considerable amount of information is packed into the highly detailed illustrations in the form of word labels (e.g., a cross-section of the Mayflower, the people of the colony, the Indians in the area, a timeline, and maps).

Herman, Charlotte.  The Memory Cupboard: A Thanksgiving Story.  Illus. by Ben F. Stahl.  Albert Whitman, 2003.  Gr. 1-3
When Katie and her family visit her grandmother for Thanksgiving, Katie accidentally breaks a valued gravy bowl. To make her feel better, her grandmother shows her a cupboard full of cherished items that have worn out or been broken. Realistic acrylic paintings accompany this heartwarming story of family love.

Jackson, Alison.  I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie.  Illus. by Judith Byron Schachner. Dutton, 1997.  Gr. K-2
A parody of the favorite old song in which the old lady eats many of the Thanksgiving fixings until she is big enough to be a balloon in the Thanksgiving parade. Meant to be sung!

Koller, Jackie French.  Nickommoh!: A Thanksgiving Celebration.  Illus. by Marcia Sewall. Atheneum, 1999.  Gr. 2-4
A lyrical text describes the Nickommoh, a harvest celebration, of the Narragansett people as it was before the arrival of the Pilgrims. Scratchboard and gouache illustrations reflect the details of the celebration. A glossary is appended. An author’s note explains that the Nickommoh was more like the Plymouth Pilgrims’ first feast than the celebration we have today.

Livingston, Myra Cohn.  Thanksgiving Poems.  Illus. by Stephen Gammell.  Holiday House, 1985.  Gr. 1-5
An anthology of poems, from historical to contemporary, including Indian songs and a psalm from the Bible, expressing Thanksgiving.

McCully, Emily Arnold.  An Outlaw Thanksgiving.  Dial, 1998.  Gr. 1-4
Based on a true story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s Thanksgiving banquet for their friends in the 1890s, fictional Clara and her mother find themselves guests for the feast when their train to California is stopped by a blizzard. Evocative watercolor paintings show the adventure of the journey and the joyous celebration of the Thanksgiving feast. An appended note gives additional historical information.

Melmed, Laura Krauss.  This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story.  Illus. by Mark Buehner. HarperCollins, 2000.  Gr. K-2
In a simple rhyming text, 10 Wampanoag and 10 Pilgrim friends getting ready for the first harvest feast. Hidden pictures and much to count on every page.

Miller, Pat Zietlow.  Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story.  Illus. by Jill McElmurry.  Random House, 2015.  Gr. K-3
Each of the 10 members of a 19th century family has a job to do in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner. Rhyming text and gouache illustrations in muted colors reflect the warmth of this family celebration.

Nikola-Lisa, W.  Setting the Turkeys Free.  Illus. by Ken Wilson-Max.  Hyperion, 2004.  Gr. K-2
A little boy uses all sorts of materials to make hand-print turkeys, which he keeps safe in a pen made of Popsickle sticks. When a fox threatens their safety, he uses his artistic ingenuity to save them. As a follow up to the story, have a variety of papers, paints, and other art supplies available for students to make hand-print turkeys.

Parish, Herman.  Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey.  Illus. by Lynn Sweat.  Greenwillow, 2008.  Gr. 1-3
Fans of Amelia Bedelia will be delighted to see that she has been placed in charge of the school Thanksgiving pageant!

Paterson, Katherine.  Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving.
Illus. by Pamela Dalton.  Chronicle, 2013.  Gr. All ages
This compilation of more than 50 traditional proverbs, blessings, speeches, songs, and poems, representing a wide range of cultures, is divided into four categories - food, life, inner spirit, and community. Cut-paper illustrations are exquisite.

Penner, Lucille Recht.  Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners.  Macmillan, 1991.  Gr. 3-6
Food preparation, eating habits, and manners of the Pilgrims are supplemented with old rhymes and sayings, some Pilgrim recipes, and a glossary of terms. Good information for research on life of the Pilgrims.

Pilkey, Dav.  ‘Twas the Night before Thanksgiving.  Orchard, 1990.  Gr. K-2
In this hilarious parody of the classic poem, eight children take a field trip to a turkey farm only to get the bad news about what’s in store for the turkeys. Can they save them? There may just be more than one way to have turkey for Thanksgiving!

Prelutsky, Jack.  It’s Thanksgiving.  Illus. by Marylin Hafner.  Greenwillow, 1982.  Gr. K-3
A collection of poems about Thanksgiving from the preparations to the leftovers (plus one poem about the first Thanksgiving)—perfect for reading aloud.

Rosen, Michael.  A Thanksgiving Wish.  Illus. by John Thompson.  Scholastic, 1998.  Gr. 2-5
Amanda and her family have always traveled to Bubbe’s (her grandmother) house for a big Thanksgiving dinner. When Bubbe dies, they wonder how they can ever have Thanksgiving without her. Amanda’s mother, however, figures out all the details, and when a power outage threatens the celebration, a new friend helps make their Thanksgiving very special. Realistic acrylic paintings reflect the characters’ emotions.

Sewall, Marcia.  The Pilgrims of Plimoth.  Atheneum, 1986.  Gr. 3-6
Elegant oil paintings perfectly complement a substantial informational text that captures the life of the Pilgrims in their day-to-day existence in their first years of settlement in the new world. The appended glossary defines unfamiliar vocabulary. See also People of the Breaking Day (Atheneum, 1990).

Smith, Janice Lee.  The Turkey’s Side of It: Adam Joshua’s Thanksgiving.  Illus. by Dick Gackenbach.  HarperCollins, 1990.  Gr. 2-4
Although Adam Joshua thinks he would be a great Indian or Pilgrim in the school Thanksgiving play, he and his best friend Nelson get turkey parts instead. Lots of humor in the story and the illustrations in this short chapter book that is part of the Adam Joshua series.

Spinelli, Eileen.  The Perfect Thanksgiving.  Illus. by JoAnn Adinolfi.  Henry Holt, 2003.  Gr. K-3
A young girl compares her family’s chaotic Thanksgiving with that of another family, whose celebration is perfect. At the conclusion, she notes the similarity: no matter how different the celebrations, loving families share the joy of the holiday. Humorous mixed media illustrations highlight the rhyming text.

Swamp, Chief Jake.  Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message.  Illus. by Erwin Printup, Jr.  Lee & Low, 1995.  Gr. All ages
Not a book about the Thanksgiving holiday, but appropriate for the season (and ANY time), the text, an Iroquois message, offers thanks for the beauty of the Earth and all its gifts. Richly colored acrylic paintings provide a backdrop of nature and wildlife scenes.

Tryon, Leslie.  Albert’s Thanksgiving.  Atheneum, 1994.  Gr. K-2
The always busy Albert (a duck) is helping with the preparations for the annual Thanksgiving feast at the school, and he needs to harvest the vegetables that he helped the children plant. Unfortunately, the PTA continuously sends him notes asking him to do “one more thing.” Everything works out, and Albert’s pumpkin pie is a big hit (recipe on the back cover). Much of the story is told in the large, colorful illustrations.

Waters, Kate.  Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl.  Photos by Russ Kendall.  Scholastic, 1993.  Gr. 1-4
In a living history format, the daily activities of a Pilgrim girl are depicted. See also the companion book, Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy (Scholastic, 1996).

Van Leeuwen, Jean.  Across the Wide Dark Sea.  Illus. by Thomas B. Allen.  Dial, 1995.  Gr. 1-3
Illustrated with soft pastels, a young boy tells the story of his family’s voyage on the Mayflower in 1620 and the difficult first winter in their settlement in the new land. An Author’s Note authenticates the story.

Willey, Margaret.  Thanksgiving with Me.  Illus. by Lloyd Bloom.  Laura Geringer/HarperCollins, 1998.  Gr. K-2
A rhymed text in the form of a dialogue between a mother and her daughter features the mother telling stories about past holidays with her six brothers. Cheerful illustrations depict the joys of family in an earlier time.

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