The 12 Best Thanksgiving Books for Children

Gather Your Family Around a Good Book On Thanksgiving

The best Thanksgiving books for children stress the importance of giving thanks and help paint a historically accurate picture of the first Thanksgiving. Some are humorous, and others are books you'll want to share year-round. Here are 12 books your children will love, from a nature book about wild turkeys, to the story of the man who invented the giant balloon puppets for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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1621, A New Look at Thanksgiving

1621 New Look at Thanksgiving - Book Cover
Nonfiction Children's Book About Thanksgiving in 1621. National Geographic Society

This Thanksgiving book for eight- to 12-year-olds provides an accurate account of Thanksgiving in 1621. It was written in collaboration with Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum. The book is illustrated with photographs of museum reenactments, and the text and photographs present the Thanksgiving story from the viewpoints of both the English colonists and the ​Wampanoag tribe. (National Geographic, 2001. ISBN: 0792270274)

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In Every Tiny Grain of Sand

Cover art of In Every Tiny Grain of Sand
In Every Tiny Grain of Sand: A Child's Book of Prayers and Praise. Candlewick Press

Reeve Lindbergh's book In Every Tiny Grain of Sand is subtitled " a child's book of prayers and praise." The book is divided into four sections: For the Day, For the Home, For the Earth and For the Night, each with a different illustrator. The selections are from a variety of authors, cultures, and religions. While not technically about Thanksgiving, the book emphasizes the main theme of the holiday: giving thanks. (Candlewick Press, 2000. ISBN: 0763601764)

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Balloons Over Broadway

Cover of Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

If you've been to, plan to go to or always watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, you and your kids will love this picture book. Written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, this colorful book tells the story of Tony Sarg and how he developed the huge balloon puppets that have delighted parade viewers since 1928. The intriguing illustrations, a combination of watercolors and mixed media collages, will captivate children with their variety and details. Sweet is also the illustrator of A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin and . (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001. ISBN: 9780547199450)

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The Thankful Book

Cover art for The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
Little, Brown and Company

Todd Parr's bright and zany illustrations celebrate diversity with people of all ages and colors, including purple and blue. With just a sentence, an extremely colorful illustration and a keen understanding of how young children think, Parr shares concepts that children need to understand in a way that engages their attention.  The Thankful Book is best for children ages three to six and is a great family read aloud and a starting point for family members to discuss with one another what they are thankful for. *Megan Tingley Books, Little, Brown and Company, 2012. ISBN: 9780316181013)

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The Firefighters' Thanksgiving

Cover art for The Firefighters Thanksgiving picture book
Penguin Group

In The Firefighter's Thanksgiving, the dramatic illustrations in acrylics by Terry Widener and the fast-paced story by Maribeth Boelts will capture the interest of children four to eight. The book is a heartwarming story about hard work and gratitude for a job well done. It's Thanksgiving Day at Fire Station 1. Lou, one the firefighters, offers to cook the holiday meal, and lists and preparations begin. However, as the story, which is told in rhyme, continues, the firefighters’ meal preparations are interrupted by a fire alarm.

The firefighters go off to fight the fire, come back to the fire station and wash their truck and clean their equipment, only to be called out again. During the last fire of the day, Lou is injured and the firefighters can’t relax until they learn he’ll be OK. By that time, it is too late to prepare dinner. Tired and hungry, the firefighters return to the fire station, only to find that grateful area residents have delivered a big Thanksgiving dinner and a thank you note. (Puffin, Penguin Group, 2006, 2004. ISBN: 9780142406311)

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The Perfect Thanksgiving

Cover art of The Perfect Thanksgiving, a children's Thanksgiving picture book
Cover photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

Artist JoAnn Adinolfi used colored pencil and collage to create a colorful accompaniment to the rhyming text of Eileen Spinelli in The Perfect Thanksgiving, a delightful picture book. The story and illustrations are full of humor, with an important underlying message. A girl compares a "perfect" neighbor family's "perfect Thanksgiving" with her own imperfect family's "less-than-perfect Thanksgiving." Despite the marked differences, she realizes the two families are also alike: "alike in just how loving our different families are." This is a great book for a family to enjoy as a read aloud. (Square Fish, 2007. ISBN: 9780312375058)

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Gobble Gobble

Cover srt for Gobble Gobble, and Informational children's picture book
Dawn Publications

Gobble, Gobble is a good book for the holiday season because of the increased interest in turkeys during the fall. This informational picture book by Cathryn Falwell tells the story, in rhyme, about a little girl, Jenny, and her observations through the seasons of the wild turkeys in her neighborhood. In a four-page afterword, written as if it’s a segment from Jenny’s Journals, Jenny explains the difference between the domestic turkeys that people eat and the wild turkeys that she saw and includes her artwork depicting each.

This is an enjoyable informational book that also includes suggested activities and an animal tracks quiz. Gobble, Gobble is best for kids ages four to eight, as well as for all the other kids and the adults who have seen wild turkeys and wondered about them. (Dawn Publications, 2011. ISBN: 9781584691495)

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Thelonius Turkey Lives! (on Felicia Ferguson's Farm)

Cover art of Thelonius Turkey Lives! children's Thanksgiving picture book
Cover photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

This wacky tale, with its even wackier mixed media illustrations, will delight four- to eight-year-olds. Thelonius Turkey is afraid that farmer Felicia Ferguson plans to eat him for Thanksgiving. After all, he's the only turkey left on the farm. With the help of the other farm animals, Thelonius tries to thwart Felicia’s plan with all kinds of mischief. Happily, Felicia Ferguson has something very special in mind for him, and it’s not to turn him into Thanksgiving dinner. Because of the humor and the illustrations, this book is a good read-aloud for ages four to nine. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. ISBN: 0375831266)

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Ankle Soup

Cover art of Ankle Soup by Maureen Sullivan
Ankle Soup, A Children's Thanksgiving Picture Book. MoJo Inkworks

The picture book Ankle Soup by Maureen Sullivan provides a whole new perspective on Thanksgiving: A dog's ankle-high view of Thanksgiving Day in New York City. Through Sullivan's story in rhyme and Allison Josephs' joyous and richly hued paintings, you'll join Carlos the French Bulldog on a cab ride through the city, past Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, to Grand Central Station.

There, Carlos sees people happily greeting one another, from a young couple to triplets and their grandmother. He also sees acts of kindness, like a "kindly gent" giving money to a man in need. Carlos reminds readers to try to see things from a dog's point of view. This book is also an enjoyable family read aloud. (MoJo Inkworks, 2008. ISBN: 9780982038109)

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Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

Cover art of children's Thanksgiving picture book
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message. Cover photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

According to the author, Chief Jake Swamp, the text of this picture book is based on the Thanksgiving Address, "an ancient message of peace and appreciation of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants" that comes from the Iroquois tribe. The striking illustrations, acrylic paintings on canvas by Erwin Printup, Jr., capture the beauty of nature with drama and simplicity and complement the message of Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message. This is another book the entire family will appreciate. (Lee & Low Books, 1995. ISBN: 1880000156) 

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Gracias The Thanksgiving Turkey

Cover art of Gracias The Thanksgiving Turkey a children's picture book
Cover photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

Joy Cowley’s Thanksgiving picture book is illustrated with colorful oil paintings by Joe Cepeda. A young Hispanic boy, Miquel, lives with his grandparents in a city apartment. His father sends him a turkey to fatten up for the holiday. Instead, the bird becomes Miquel's pet. Its life is spared when it is unexpectedly blessed by a priest. Gracias The Thanksgiving Turkey is an engaging story that will appeal to children four to eight. (Scholastic paperbacks, 2005. ISBN: 9780439769877)

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Thanks for Thanksgiving

Thanks for Thanksgiving children's Thanksgiving picture book

In Thanks for Thanksgiving, a joyful and humorous Thanksgiving picture book, a young boy and girl celebrate and give thanks for the love of family and friends. Doris Barrette's detailed and funny illustrations complement the rhyming text by Julie Markes. Each double page contains one sentence and an illustration, generally one crowded with family members, toys, pets and more. The last page of Thanks for Thanksgiving is blank, except for the heading: "A place to write our thankful thoughts, year after year." Best for children ages three to six. (HarperCollins, 2004. ISBN: 9780060510961)

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Your Citation
Kennedy, Elizabeth. "The 12 Best Thanksgiving Books for Children." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Kennedy, Elizabeth. (2020, August 27). The 12 Best Thanksgiving Books for Children. Retrieved from Kennedy, Elizabeth. "The 12 Best Thanksgiving Books for Children." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 21, 2023).