It’s not always easy deciding how you want to approach Thanksgiving. There is still a widely glaring misconception about the events of the first Thanksgiving and the erasure of Native people and their history. Many people have varied associations with Thanksgiving, from a day of mourning or celebration of Native people to food, football, and family.
Whether you’re upholding old traditions or creating new ones, we’ve pulled together a few Thanksgiving books that will surely be great for the kids in your life. These books are for counting, embracing food cultures, honoring Native American traditions, providing fuller accounts of the first Thanksgiving, and practicing gratitude.
Feast for 10 by Catheryn Falwell (Ages 0-3)
A counting book that features an African-American family shopping for food, preparing dinner, and sitting down to eat.
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Malliard (Ages 3-6)
This is a beautiful book that celebrates Native American culture through the art of making fry bread. It honors the history and traditions of the past while making room for the future.
We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (Ages 3-7)
The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences.
Twas’ the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey ( Ages 4-8)
What’s better than a field trip full of adventure? On the day before Thanksgiving, a group of children visit a turkey farm and meet Farmer Mack Nuggett and his coop of cockerels: Ollie, Stanley, Larry, Moe, Wally, Beaver, Shemp, and Groucho. The children and turkeys giggle and gobble, and everything is gravy. As the trip comes to an end, the children leave the farm with full hearts — and bulging bellies — reminding people and poultry alike that there is much to be thankful for.
Gracias, Thanks by Pat Mora (Ages 4-7)
In this bilingual book, follow a little boy that shows gratefulness for the simple things in life. From the sun that wakes him up every day and his abuelita that sneaks him a dollar when no one is watching to his brother making him laugh when he threw peas at his sister and his old soft pajamas, there is so much to be thankful for.
Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac (Ages 4-7)
In 1620 an English ship called the Mayflower landed on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket, and it was Squanto who welcomed the newcomers and taught them how to survive. When a good harvest was gathered, the people feasted together–a tradition that continues almost four hundred years later.
Peyton Picks the Perfect Pie: A Thanksgiving Celebration by America’s Test Kitchen Kids (Ages 4-8)
Peyton is particular. But she’s not picky. It’s never a good thing. And it’s not fair. . Peyton is the hero of this food lover’s tale, and she is determined to confront her fear of new foods by finding a Thanksgiving pie she truly likes, even if it’s flaky, lumpy, or chunky. This book is perfect for those kids that are leery of trying new foods.
Rice and Rocks by Sandra L. Richards (Ages 4-8)
Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, and his grandmother is serving rice and beans. Giovanni is embarrassed he does not like ‘rice and rocks’ and worries his friends will think the traditional Jamaican dish is weird. But his favorite Auntie comes to the rescue. She and Giovanni’s pet parrot, Jasper, take him on a magical journey across the globe, visiting places where people eat rice and rocks. This is a perfect book for celebrating traditions in various cultures.
Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules (Ages 4-8)
It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Tuyet is excited about the holiday and the vacation from school. There’s just one problem: her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner – not turkey! Nobody has duck for Thanksgiving – what will her teacher and the other kids think? To her surprise, Tuyet enjoys her yummy thanksgiving dinner anyhow – and an even bigger surprise is waiting for her at school on Monday. Dinners from roast beef to lamb to enchiladas adorned the Thanksgiving tables of her classmates, but they all had something in common – family!
Katie Woo Saves Thanksgiving by Fran Manushkin (Ages 6-9)
Pedro’s and JoJo’s families are on their way to Katie’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. But they get stuck in a snowstorm, and the Woos’ oven suddenly breaks. Katie wonders what kind of Thanksgiving it will be without sweet potatoes, pie, and most of all, friends.
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace (Ages 8-12)
Countering the prevailing, traditional story of the first Thanksgiving, with its black-hatted, silver-buckled Pilgrims; blanket-clad, be-feathered Indians; cranberry sauce; pumpkin pie; and turkey, this lushly illustrated photo-essay presents a more measured, balanced, and historically accurate version of the three-day harvest celebration in 1621.
For more Thanksgiving books for kids, check out our Thanksgiving Books collection on our Bookshop store. Hit the comments to share your favorite Thanksgiving books!
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