Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. And Thanksgiving books for kids are always one of the best parts of the season. While Halloween and Christmas books tend to be quite popular, I find Thanksgiving picture books aren’t nearly as common.
A couple years ago, I began learning more about the true history of the first Thanksgiving. I started to incorporate more indigenous perspectives in our kids Thanksgiving books and removed some of the problematic, white-centric ones with incorrect history. It’s been meaningful to bring more of those into our home.
Here are all of our favorite inclusive Thanksgiving books for kids. Many of them share indigenous voices and perspectives. Others are great books on giving thanks, as well as fun traditions and feasts to celebrate the holiday with friends and family.
If you’re looking for more resources, American Indians in Children’s Literature is a great resource to check different books. Tolerance.org and Oyate.org also have a number of resources for decolonizing Thanksgiving for children, and here’s another list of indigenous children’s books broken up by category. I hope you enjoy these Thanksgiving picture books!
Thanksgiving Books For Toddlers
Thankful Tonight by Katherine Yundt (Author)
This book is one of the sweetest Thanksgiving books for toddlers. It helps even really young children understand the concept of gratitude and what they can be thankful for in their lives. I love having it in our collection of Thanksgiving board books!
Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland (Author), Sonja Lamut (Author)
Short and sweet, this book is perfect for young readers to remember the reason for the season. We can all find something for which to be grateful!
Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon (Author, Illustrator)
This fun little book is a perfect Thanksgiving book for toddlers. With shiny tabs and numbers to count, it’s great for the youngest listeners.
Thanksgiving Books for Preschoolers and Thanksgiving Books for Kindergarten
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (Author), Frane Lessac (Illustrator)
Sorell draws on her Cherokee heritage and language traditions to share this gorgeous book of thanks. It follows not just one time of thanks, but a full year of gratitude and celebrations. One of my very favorite Thanksgiving books for children.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora (Author)
This stunning book details an Igbo grandmother’s generosity in feeding those around her, and how they all share with her in return. Perfect for including a representative story of joy and celebration surrounding a feast for a family of color. Definitely a new favorite in our collection of Thanksgiving picture books.
Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano
Turkey is concerned that Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. So he decides to try to pass for a number of other animals to avoid his fate. Will he stay safe? This is one of my kids favorite Thanksgiving books!
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende Devlin (Author), Harry Devlin (Illustrator)
This book was out of print for ages, and I hunted and hunted for it. Happily, it came back in stock last year and has stayed available, and is a delight. A sweet story of not judging people based on their looks and welcoming all to our tables. A great addition to our Thanksgiving children’s books. The cranberry bread recipe is also delicious (we like to add chocolate chips to ours!).
Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf (Author), Jenny Lovlie (Illustrator)
I love this gentle story of a family that invites others over to celebrate Thanksgiving in their yard. Based on a true story and a 20-year long tradition.
Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons by Joseph Bruchac (Author), Jonathan London (Author), Thomas Locker (Illustrator)
This Native American legend is told in poem by its own voice author. I love that it shares a love for the land and its inhabitants.
Over The River And Through The Wood by Linda Ashman (Author), Kim Smith (Illustrator)
This classic Thanksgiving poem on the way to Grandma’s house is perfect book for Thanksgiving season. I love that this one includes a multiracial family, as well.
The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose (Author), Bryna Waldman (Illustrator)
While the end is a bit abrupt and doesn’t give a full history of the indigenous peoples after colonists arrived, this book is good for giving a brief overview of different tribes. A good starting point.
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson (Author), Jane Chapman (Illustrator)
I find all the Bear books delightful, and this Thanksgiving book for kids is no exception. A sweet and fun way to consider gratitude during this season and each day.
I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie by Alison Jackson (Author), Judy Schachner (Illustrator)
These books are always good for a smile, and the Thanksgiving picture book version is just as fun as the others. I love the familiarity and humor of the rhyme!
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Author), Juana Martinez-Neal (Illustrator)
While not specifically a Thanksgiving book, this is an absolute favorite of mine from the Global Children’s Book Club that talks of indigenous traditions. I love that it brings in food and family and indigenous culture from a variety of tribes. (Watch the author doing a read aloud of it here!)
In November by
Elementary School Thanksgiving Books for Kids
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
This is one of my all-time favorite Thanksgiving books for kids. It tells the true story of the creator behind the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade through words and beautiful and creative illustrations. It’s such a fun story that charms me every time – one of the best Thanksgiving books!
Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac (Author), Greg Shed (Illustrator)
Author Bruchac draws from his Abenaki heritage to create this informative book on Squanto’s true contributions. It centers him as a hero for our modern Thanksgivings.
Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson (Author), Matt Faulkner (Illustrator)
When we think of Thanksgiving, we usually think of a big feast. But how did it become a national holiday? It’s largely thanks to Sarah Hale. This tribute tells of the work she put in to create this special time for all of us.
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (Author), Michaela Goade (Illustrator)
Although not a Thanksgiving book, this beautiful offering from an author/illustrator duo from different indigenous tribes stands to defend the earth’s water. The words and illustrations are moving and so special. Winner of the 2021 Caldecott medal.
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp (Author), Erwin Printup (Illustrator), Jr. (Illustrator)
This beautiful message is often spoken at Iroquois ceremonial gatherings, and adapted for children. A Thanksgiving must read. We like to read this before starting our Thanksgiving meal.
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace (Author)
This National Geographic Kids photo-essay looks at a more historically accurate version of the events in 1621. I appreciate that this one counters the typical narrative of the first Thanksgiving.
Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story by S. D. Nelson (Author)
Female-focused indigenous stories are rare, and this one is stunning. A picture book biography, it details Buffalo Bird Girl’s daily life and includes her own words and photographs.
How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Bunting (Author), Beth Peck (Illustrator)
I really appreciate that this book incorporates a perspective of immigration into Thanksgiving. It’s a great one for helping children not remember their own opportunities for gratitude, but also to work to help others have opportunities for success, as well.
Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson (Author), David Shannon (Illustrator)
Primarily a musician, Robertson turned author to share the story of Hiawatha uniting tribes.
Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller (Author), Jill McElmurry (Illustrator)
This sweet book shares a family working together to prepare and celebrate a meal together. Everyone has a job!
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (Author)
This picture book memoir shares the author’s story of immigrating to the United States, and the various gifts that all dreamers bring with them. In the end, we are all dreamers and all have unique gifts. Beautiful.
In November by Cynthia Rylant (Author), Jill Kastner (Illustrator)
This cozy book discusses the varied beauties of this month at its chilly peak.
If you’d like a printable copy of this book list to take with you to the library or reference on your phone, enter your email and it’ll show up in your inbox!
NEW THANKSGIVING BOOKS FOR 2021
I ordered a few new ones this year that I am so excited about. We’ve started flipping through them and I couldn’t be more pleased. I hope you love them, too!
Birdsong by Julie Flett (Author, Illustrator)
This beautiful and still book highlights a sweet inter-generational relationship that takes you through the seasons. I love the focus on friendship and being in nature together.
If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving by Chris Newell (Author), Winona Nelson (Illustrator)
This new book by an Indigenous American author and from the perspective of the Wampanoag people is engaging and historically accurate. I’m so glad books like this exist now.
Jingle Dancer by Cynthia L Smith (Author), Cornelius Van Wright (Illustrator), Ying-Hwa Hu (Illustrator)
We’ve loved the opportunities we’ve had to see jingle dancers in real life. I loved reading this story about a young girl learning this beautiful art form and connecting with other women in her community because of it.
Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers, and Changemakers from Past and Present by Adrienne Keene (Author), Ciara Sana (Illustrator)
I love this compilation of incredible Indigenous Americans and hope it helps us make them household names. Written and illustrated by Indigenous American women.
A Kid’s Guide to Native American History: More than 50 Activities by Yvonne Wakim Dennis (Author), Arlene Hirschfelder (Author)
I absolutely love this book with a bunch of hands on activities for kids to learn about different indigenous American tribes. So often, tribes get lumped together but really have very different cultures and customs, and this is such a fun way to learn about them. Includes crafts, recipes, games, and more. The author works for the Nitchen Children’s Museum of Native America.
Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Author)
It’s been harder to find books geared to slightly older kids, and this one is a gem. It’s a compilation of short writings by a number of Indigenous American authors, including poems, folk tales, and personal narratives.
We Are Still Here! by Traci Sorell (Author), Frane Lessac (Illustrator)
From the authors of We Are Grateful is another stunning book, this time beautifully capturing that indigenous Americans do not just live in the past, but still exist today. Native American history is often taught as something in the past, and I love how this keeps those stories and peoples relevant and current for kids.
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