With Halloween behind us, the Christmas train is barreling down the track, and while many are eager to jump aboard (early Hallmark Christmas marathon, anyone?), I’d rather delay the Christmas chaos just a little longer in order to fully embrace my own favorite holiday—Thanksgiving! And I can think of no better way to help my preschooler embrace the Thanksgiving spirit than with seasonal picture books.
As a passionate book lover, and a mom who is eager to impart my bookish enthusiasm to my kids, books and reading figure heavily in our family’s daily lives.
Not only are we regular library patrons, but we have numerous bookshelves throughout our home—most overflowing with children’s literature—and one entire shelf dedicated entirely to books about the current season or upcoming holiday. I recently swapped out our Halloween picture books for our favorite Thanksgiving titles, and my preschooler and I have been enjoying one or two of these seasonal reads each night before bed.
Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving books, with titles suitable for babies through elementary school:
Thanksgiving Board Books
The Itsy Bitsy Pilgrim, by Jeffrey Burton: A playful twist on the nursery rhyme “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” this singable book is as cute as can be. But fair warning: don’t read this one before bedtime, or the song will be stuck in your head all night long!
The First Thanksgiving: A Lift-the-Flap Book, by Kathryn Lynn Davis: What child doesn’t love a lift-the-flap book?! This one introduces littles to the story of the first Thanksgiving with simple language and colorful images.
Llama Llama Gives Thanks, by Anna Dewdney: With simple rhyming text, this book featuring beloved character Llama Llama celebrates yummy food, autumn leaves, and many more reasons for the Llama family—and yours—to give thanks.
Five Silly Turkeys, by Salina Yoon: Toddlers will love the hilarious shenanigans of the silly turkeys in this Thanksgiving counting book.
Thanksgiving Books for Preschoolers
The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin, by Stan and Jan Berenstain: Join everybody’s favorite bear family as they enter a pumpkin contest and learn some important lessons about winning, good sportsmanship, and authentic gratitude.
Franklin’s Thanksgiving, by Paulette Bourgeois: In this Classic Franklin Storybook, the absence of Grandma and Grandpa at the Thanksgiving table leads to a surprising holiday gathering that celebrates friendship and neighborly love.
‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving, by Dave Pilkey: In this creative twist on the classic Christmas poem, a class field trip to the turkey farm turns into a comical turkey rescue mission that leaves several feathered friends with much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, by Charles M. Schulz: Pop some popcorn, dish up some jelly beans, and join Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang in this delightful retelling of the beloved Thanksgiving TV special.
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks!, by Margaret Sutherland: This cheerful book is a celebration of family, friends, and the true significance of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Children’s Books
Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, by Joseph Bruchac: When the Mayflower landed in the home of the Pokanoket, Squanto was the one to greet them. This book tells his story, offering a depiction of the first Thanksgiving from the Native American viewpoint.
Cranberry Thanksgiving, by Wende and Harry Devlin: A charming story of friendship, forgiveness, and false assumptions set in the quaint town of Cranberryport. This was my most beloved Thanksgiving book as a child. Start a new tradition by inviting your children to join you in baking the cranberry bread recipe at the back of the book!
. . . If You Sailed the Mayflower in 1620, by Anna McGovern: Perfect for inquisitive children and fans of historical trivia, this book offers a realistic portrayal of life aboard the Mayflower and what really took place on the first Thanksgiving.
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, by Melissa Sweet: This beautifully illustrated book tells the true story of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer who designed the signature helium balloons that would become a staple of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.