Get some Thanksgiving inspiration with this list of best Thanksgiving books for kids of all ages. From toddlers through upper elementary grades, this Thanksgiving book list has historical tales, humorous tales and stories about being grateful. Some are brand new for 2021 and others are classics. As a school librarian, I am in the fortunate position to be able to read books galore. It’s my job! I hope you enjoy perusing this list of favorite Thanksgiving books for kids.
The Best Thanksgiving Book List Backstory
Once again, as with my Back to School book list, my Christmas booklist, and Valentine’s Day book list for kids, I turned to my librarian discussion group. They shared some thoughts on the best Thanksgiving picture books for kids. I am always grateful for their insights and recommendations. After scanning through the posts, I noted the titles that were repeatedly mentioned. These Thanksgiving stories are not just for kids, though. The whole family can enjoy these selections. From a book about the first Thanksgiving to a brand new release, here’s the list of the best Thanksgiving books for kids, including toddlers, preschoolers and elementary students.
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Best Thanksgiving Books for Toddlers
Gobble Wobble Finger Puppet Board Book by Brick Puffinton
New in 2021! Get your Thanksgiving groove on with the action rhymes in this cute Thanksgiving story. Use the finger puppet to dance around as the story moves along. How cute is that? Here are some other Thanksgiving books just for toddlers to enjoy:
|Just a Special Thanksgiving||Who can resist the cute illustrations by Mercer Mayer? Little Critter and his family are celebrating Thanksgiving in this sweet, funny story.|
|Bear Says Thanks||Bear wants to give his friends a nice big Thanksgiving dinner, but his cupboards are bare. What will he do? Find out in this heartwarming tale|
|T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Story||Reinforce alphabet skills with this Thanksgiving-themed alphabet that tells the story of the first Thanksgiving in catchy rhyming text.|
|Thanks for Thanksgiving||The lovely illustrations and rhyming text paint a meaningful picture of gratitude for even the youngest readers or listeners.|
Best Thanksgiving Books for Preschoolers
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland
This book provides a reminder that Thanksgiving is about more than just turkey and pilgrims. Thankfulness abounds throughout this colorfully-illustrated selection. The simple text helps define the concept of gratitude for young children.
Pete the Cat Falling for Autumn by James Dean
Newly released, this book relates the story of a popular character in children’s fiction, Pete the Cat, and his unsure thoughts about autumn. It’s tough to see summer end. Will Pete find some things to enjoy about fall? Join Pete on his adventures as he discovers things to be thankful for as one season turns into another.
The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli
This selection tells a story of contrasts between two families. One family seems to have it all together and another family serves up minor disasters as their Thanksgiving feast. Can the two coexist? Funny and engaging, this story will bring laughs and variety to your holiday reading menu. Here are some other favorite Thanksgiving titles, perfect for preschoolers:
|10 Fat Turkeys||Counting backwards, silly rhymes…this book has it all. Preschool-aged kids will gobble it right up!|
|The Night Before Thanksgiving||Get preschoolers excited about Thanksgiving as this story recounts the preparations that go into making the holiday special.|
|Turkey Goes to School||
In this edition of the popular series about Turkey and friends, the animals find out they are not allowed at school, even though they have been practicing their skills. Find out how they solve the dilemma in this clever story.
|The Roll Away Pumpkin||Get kids excited about vegetables in this repeating-sentence story of a pumpkin that gets away. A beautifully-illustrated, humorous tale!|
|My Attitude of Gratitude||Teach kids the importance of being grateful for what they have in this gentle story depicting a grandmother and her grandson.|
Best Thanksgiving Books for Kindergarteners and First Graders
‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
Readers join in on a hilarious rhyming romp that follows the adventures of children on a school bus on Thanksgiving Eve. When the kids learn that their cuddly turkey friends are on the menu for the next day’s Thanksgiving feast, they devise a sneaky plan to help the turkeys escape. The rhythmic text and joyous illustrations create an entertaining read-aloud experience for students in kindergarten and first grade.
Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano
Poor Turkey is dreading Thanksgiving and his role as the main dish. To avoid his fate, Turkey dresses up in a variety of disguises. Read to find out what happens in this laugh-out-loud tale.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson
This is the patterned story of a gluttonous woman who swallows many things. She leaves hardly any food behind for anyone else! As she grows larger and larger, the repeated text gets longer. Finally, the old lady plays a huge (literally) part in the Thanksgiving festivities.
In November by Cynthia Rylant
The joys of autumn are detailed in this cozy book about the changing seasons. No Thanksgiving book list would be complete without this delightful work. Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite authors. Enjoy this selection with someone you love! For more titles kindergarten and first grade students will enjoy, check out this list:
|Gratitude is My Superpower: A children’s book about Giving Thanks and Practicing Positivity||This is a sweet story, perfect for bedtime reading, in which powerful exmaples of gratitude are given in a gentle and imaginative way.|
|Taylor the Thankful Turkey||
In addition to being thankful, this story teaches the importance of showing appreciate to others. It’s a colorful, thought-provoking book with questions at the end.
|Thanksgiving in the Woods||Based on a true story about a family in Upstate New York, this beautifully illlustrated book tells of a special outdoor Thanksgiving celebation.|
|Sharing the Bread: An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving Story||Set at the beginning of the 20th century, this rhyming book, this story details the way everyone works together to help with the Thanksgiving celebration.|
|Peyton Picks the Perfect Pie: A Thanksgiving Celebration||Peyton is particular about the food she eats. Join Peyton as she sets out on a quest to find the prefect Thanksgiving pie in this book about trying new things.|
|How to Catch a Turkey||
Here’s a story brimming with outlandish ideas for traps to catch turkeys, and along with the silliness are some great STEM concepts. Have fun witnessing some crazy turkey-catching escapades.
|A Turkey for Thanksgiving||
When Turkey is invited to Thanksgiving dinner by Mr. and Mr.s Moose, he doesn’t realize he is invited as a guest, not the main course. Will his friends be able to clear up the misunderstanding in time for the meal?
Best Thanksgiving Books for Second and Third Graders
One is a Feast for a Mouse by Judy Cox
This story relates a heartwarming tale of the aftermath of Thanksgiving dinner. A tiny mouse just can’t resist taking a little bit of each leftover item. As the pile of leftovers teeters precariously, disaster strikes. In the satisfying conclusion lies a touching lesson about being thankful for the little things.
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
This inspiring picture book tells the true story of puppeteer Tony Sarg. His brilliance and creativity led to the use of the unforgettable helium balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Winner of the 2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal Winner and the 2012 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for outstanding nonfiction, this book is a not-to-be-missed treasure. I love reading this one out loud to my students.
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
When a lady named Rebecca Estelle thinks of pumpkins, she recalls unpleasant childhood memories. Imagine her dismay when a huge pumpkin rolls off a truck and lands with a smash right in her front yard. Covering the pumpkin pieces with dirt, Rebecca Estelle thinks she has taken care of the pumpkin problem. You can probably guess what happens. This is an excellent story about making the best of an unwanted situation and the power of kindness. Here are some more Thanksgiving book titles for second and third grade students:
Thanksgiving is Grandmother’s favorite holiday, but when she learns that a person she doesn’t like is coming to dinner, she worries about her secret cranberry bread recipe being stolen. Recipe included in this Thanksgiving classic!
|Duck for Turkey Day||
Tuyet is embarrassed because her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving instead of turkey. She’ll be surprised when she learns what her classmates had for Thanksgiving dinner in their homes.
|Thank you, Omu!||
In this touching book about sharing what you have, Omu gives her stew away to everyone in the neighborhood. What will happen when the stew runs out? Find out in this story that is appropriate for teaching about generosity anytime of the year.
|Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey||
When Miguel befriends Gracias, the turkey meant for Thanksgiving dinner, is he headed for heartbreak and disappointment? Find out in this tale of family and friendship.
|Thankful||In this heartwarming work by bestselling author Eileen Spinelli, first responders and those who perform everyday, essential tasks, are recognized,|
Best Thanksgiving Books for Fourth and Fifth Graders
Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
This selection chronicles the story of the first Thanksgiving from Squanto’s point of view. Insights into the role Native Americans played in the survival of the New England colonists are given. Beautifully illustrated, this book will hold a place of pride in any Thanksgiving collection.
Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson
This book is an inspiring story of Sarah Josepha Hale. This extraordinary woman spent 35 years petitioning political leaders about the need for Thanksgiving to be recognized as a national holiday. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Thanksgiving Proclamation. The rest is history! Readers of all ages will enjoy this tribute to perseverance. It’s also a good reminder: American citizens do have the ability to make their voices heard. Here are some more excellent Thanksgiving books for fourth and fifth grade students:
|Rivka’s First Thanksgiving||
Rivka, a recent Jewish immigrant from Russia, is struggling to explain the concept of Thanksgiving to her family, Set in the 1930s, this book is an excellent encouragement for kids to be bold and speak up. Yiddish vocabulary words and definitions are included.
|The Great Turkey Walk||You may have heard of cattle drives, but a turkey drive? That’s what Simon Green undertakes in this entertaining work of historical fiction.|
|Thanksgiving on Thursday||Jack and Annie are taken back to the year 1621 and the first Thanksgiving in the number one bestselling chapter book series of all time, Magic Tree House.|
|Pilgrims: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #27||
In this nonfiction companion book to Thanksgiving on Thursday, Jack and Annie uncover the facts about the Mayflower and why the Pilgrims chose Plymouth.
|The Things I’m Grateful For||These five short stories and activities will help kids learn about gratitude and appreciation. Mazes are included as well.|
What Are Your Favorite Thanksgiving Books?
What is on your list of the best Thanksgiving books for kids? As always, I appreciate any ideas you care to share. As a school librarian, I’m always on the lookout for good book recommendations. If you like what you’ve read here, please consider subscribing for some cute printable kid’s bookshelf labels and over 40 other freebies.
Have a great time with these Thanksgiving books, everyone, and happy reading!