20 Helpful Books About Thanksgiving for Your Students
It is that time of the year again and I wanted to round up some Thanksgiving read alouds for you! Usually, I find the holiday season daunting, but this year, I welcome it with open arms. We need as much cheer as we can get! In my family, Thanksgiving is the beginning of the season and I wanted to share with you some books about Thanksgiving that I think are brilliant! Whether you are preparing for your own feast at home or visiting family over a video call, it is important to help your students be aware of the holidays. That way, they can appreciate it and spend it with their family and friends.
Books are a great way to get students to learn about the holidays, their importance, cultural significance, and get a peek into the different ways families celebrate them. As teachers, how can we help students learn about the holiday? Through reading them about Thanksgiving! Here is a list of books I recommend for you. They are divided into three categories: Learn about the Holiday, How to Say Thanks and Gratitude, and Silly Thanksgiving Books.
Learn about Thanksgiving
The books featured in this section can help students learn about visual and social cues regarding the holiday. Aside from turkey dinner, cranberry drinks, and stuffing, these books will help them appreciate the small things. These include images of nature and cheery smiles from family and friends.
FYI, I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
In November by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Jill Kastner
Help your students understand the importance of the passing between seasons by this picture book drawn by Jill Kastner and written by Cynthia Rylant. Everyone will learn what other living beings such as animals and plants do during the fall. This will also help students understand that the year is winding down.
My First Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola
This simply illustrated book by dePaola is a great way for you to read aloud with students. They can learn about the origins of this American holiday to how it is celebrated today. Its simple illustrations can help students associate various words such as turkey, pilgrims, and giving thanks.
The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Tammie Lyon
This book looks at how a family works together to prepare for the American holiday. Your students will learn about the importance of cherishing one’s family while learning about what kind of traditions they will encounter. They will be entertained with the silly and simple antics of everyone in the story through the holiday rush.
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet
One of the most recognizable events during Thanksgiving is the Macy’s Parade. You can teach its great history by reading this book. Your students will learn about the story of Tony Sarg, who created the large balloons that served as the largest attraction for the holiday event. You can even create a fun activity with your students by replicating the parade in your own classroom!
Around the Table that Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill, illustrated by Jaime Kim
For another heart-warming tale about giving thanks for the holiday, read this book by Hill to your young students. It is based on an English nursery rhyme, This is The House that Jack Built. Learn about the bond between family, friends, and neighborhoods as they gather around the table to celebrate a warm Thanksgiving.
Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Katherine Mitter
This book by Jules and Mitter is a great way to help children open their eyes to the diversity of families that live in America. It tells the tale of Tuyet, a Vietnamese-American girl who celebrates the customary fall holiday by serving duck instead of turkey. To her surprise, she gets her holiday wish and eats the traditional way not only with her family but also with her classmates. If you have kindle unlimited — this book is FREE to read perfect for teachers that are remote teaching! Just open it in the kindle app and share your screen!
Llama Llama Gives Thanks by Anna Dewdney
Explore various phonetic sounds against the backdrop of autumn leaves by letting your students read or listen to this book by Dewdney. It makes use of adorable and cheerful pictures to show various items that Llama Lama celebrates during this time of the year. As a bonus, tons of rhyming words to point out and rhyme with!
We are Grateful, Written by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frane Lessac
Dive deep into traditional festivities, your students will learn how the Cherokees express their gratitude. Cowritten by a member of the Cherokee Nation, learn how this indigenous group celebrates various festivals around the idea of gratitude from fall to summer.
Thank You, Thanksgiving by David Milgrim
This book looks at a young girl’s journey to fulfill a last-minute errand for her mother. Under the cold November sky, barren trees, and beautiful clouds, your students will enjoy learning about various things the little girl sees while on her small journey. Overall, leave your students with a great impression about appreciating Mother Nature and all the other little blessings in their lives.
Gratitude and How to Say Thanks
Let’s focus on gratitude for Thanksgiving, the following books can help introduce the habit of saying “Thank You” in many ways. Whether it is by helping around the house to bringing food for the feast, these are simple actions that your students can apply in their lives to show how thankful they are. They are also illustrated beautifully to catch their attention and help keep the image in their minds. If you are looking for a free resource to introduce the concept of gratitude to your students, watch the video below and grab your Thanksgiving Gratitude freebie here!
The secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Greg Shed
To start off this list of books for Thanksgiving, here’s a great book written by Douglas Wood. With the help of Greg Shed’s illustrations, this book can inspire kids and adults of all ages. As this is the season to count the blessings this year brought for everyone, this will help students and educators learn to appreciate them: from a leaf from an apple tree to one’s family.
Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, illustrated by Doris Barrette
Thanks for Thanksgiving lists down a lot of holiday and non-holiday related things that kids can think about while enjoying the event with their closest family and friends. They can also remember these details due to the beautiful pictures made by Doris Barrette.
Bear Says Thanks by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories
For a different change of pace, learn about the value of sharing one’s blessings by letting your students read Bear Says Thanks. Written by Capucilli and illustrated by Schories, this is a heart-warming tale of a big, brown bear holding a feast with his fellow forest animals. As Bear scrambles to find food to share while exercising their critical thinking skills.
The Perfect Thanksgiving, Written by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by JoAn Adinolfi
This book centers around a little girl who wishes for a smoother Thanksgiving dinner with her family. The message in this book is about being there for each other and thanking for the blessings we have for this year.
Duck and Hippo Give Thanks by Jonathan London, illustrated by Andrew Joyner
Two animals join forces in this fable written by London and illustrated by Joyner. While preparing the festivities, learn how Duck wants to give his friend Hippo a surprise. Learn the joys of saying and giving thanks to others in this heart-warming, cheerful book from Two Lions Publishing.
Silly and Funny Thanksgiving Books
These books will have your students rolling on the floor laughing! From counting turkeys to playing games in the backyard.
Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon
For a good laugh, get this book made by Salina Yoon. What makes this a great book to get is that it will pique any young student’s interest due to the turkey’s “tail feathers,” which serve as page tabs. Not only will they have a fun time reading through cover to cover, but they can also exercise their curiosity and observation skills throughout.
The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing
Gavin and Rhonda are the main focus of this hilarious book by Mark Fearing. To avoid being smothered by their extended families, they go on an action-filled and comedic mini-adventure to head to the backyard. Let your students laugh along and enjoy the funny caricatures of their various relatives and Thanksgiving decorations.
Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’ by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Not every Thanksgiving dinner is perfect, and this Spinelli’s children’s book shares the story of one. The Tappleton family encountered lots of setbacks that made them scramble to fill in the dinner menu from being unable to buy from the bakery to losing the turkey. Let your students learn how the holiday is truly about being together with your loved ones no matter what is being served on the table.
Fried Feathers for Thanksgiving by James Stevenson
Follow the story of Emma’s Thanksgiving by this book by James Stevenson. Two witches, Dolores and Lavinia, hear about her preparations and plan to sabotage the festivities. Your students won’t just roll around with laughter but learn whether their actions made the dinner better or worse.
The books listed here are only some of the many great Thanksgiving reads alouds that you can read to your students. If you want to send your students home for Thanksgiving break with an activity that will get them chatting with their family members please be sure to check out my packet. Students will interview their family members to see what traditions were their favorite as kids.
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