10 Best Thanksgiving Books for Children

Thanksgiving is only a couple of weeks away! Now that it is November, it is time to gather all your Thanksgiving picture books. I collected a lot of Thanksgiving books over my 10 years of teaching, but there are certain ones that are my favorites. I read these books every year with every class. If you are looking for the best Thanksgiving books for kids, here is a list of my top 10 favorite Thanksgiving books for kids of all ages.

I have a leaning towards historical Thanksgiving picture books that the kids enjoy reading but are teaching at the same time. Picture books are a great way to teach as children simply enjoy the story. For that reason, you will notice that a lot of my favorite Thanksgiving books have a historical slant.

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1. Thanksgiving Day by Anne Rockwell

This book is one of my favorite Thanksgiving books to read with preschoolers and Kindergarteners. It is the story of a young class putting on a Thanksgiving play. As they put on the play, you see pictures of the historical Thanksgiving events, as well as young children dressed up as the characters. The book ends with the children celebrating Thanksgiving and giving thanks with their family.

2. One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B.G. Hennessey

This Thanksgiving story is told through counting song – for Pilgrims, Wampanoags and turkeys. Even though it is a simple (catchy) song for young children, the illustrations tell the children a lot about what was really happening at the time of the Pilgrims.

3. Thanksgiving Mice by Bethany Roberts

This Thanksgiving book is a very simple one which makes it perfect for little ones. This is the story of a little mice putting on a play about the first Thanksgiving. Even though it is a short story, it still introduces the first Thanksgiving in a historically accurate way. This is one of the first Thanksgiving books I read with my 3-year-olds.

4. The Story of the Pilgrims by Katherine Ross

This Thanksgiving picture book has a lot of detail with beautiful illustrations. It begins with the Pilgrims in England and follows their rough journey on the Mayflower. For a simple picture book, there is a lot that can be learned in this book.

5. This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Book by Laura Krauss Melmed

This Thanksgiving book is another great book for preschool and Kindergarten. It tells the Thanksgiving story while incorporating the math skills of counting. It starts by counting up with 1 Pilgrim and 2 Wampanoag and counts through them doing their respective chores. The book ends with 12 tables gathered together to celebrate the first Thanksgiving.

6. The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene

This Thanksgiving picture book is told in rhyming and repetitive verse. It took me awhile for this book to grow on me, but I appreciate how the book repeats the verses at the end so you see the whole journey of the Pilgrims unfolding – as it leads to the very first Thanksgiving day.

7. Sarah Morton’s Day by Kate Waters

This book is one of the best historical Thanksgiving books I have discovered. I have used it with Kindergarteners as well as Third and Fourth graders. There is so much content in here that it works well for all these different levels. This book features pictures that were taken at Plimoth Plantation so the children can go back in time through this book. It is also written in old fashioned English which challenges the children to pay attention.

8. Samuel Eaton’s Day by Kate Waters

This is another great historical Thanksgiving book – and the companion book to Sarah Morton. This tells the story of a boy’s day in Plimoth Plantation and what his responsibilities were. Even the getting dressed is eye opening to young children. These two Kate Waters books belong in every Thanksgiving collection.

9. The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward

This early reader (Step 3) can be read to children or used with your children who are already reading. It does a good job of telling the Thanksgiving story in a readable way. I love how this book begins with “The people going aboard the ship seem too poor and too ordinary to ever be famous. And yet their names are now in history books.”

10. Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas

This final Thanksgiving book is one that I recommend for older children. I read this with my third and fourth graders, and would recommend this all the way through eighth grade. Remember that picture books can be used at all levels – not just in preschool! This book tells the true story of Squanto, how he was captured in America as a 12-year-old boy and taken to Spain as a slave. He learned about God from Spanish monks and eventually made his way back to his homeland. Because of his time in slavery (unfortunate as it was), Squanto was able to help the Pilgrims. This is the part of the Thanksgiving story we rarely hear and needs to be shared.

Well, there you have it. These are ten of my favorite Thanksgiving books to read with children of various ages. Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving picture books to add to this list?

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