Great Thanksgiving books for kids

Christmas books for kids are easy to find. But Thanksgiving books?  Not so much.  In the area of children’s literature — as in so many things — Thanksgiving gets the short end of the stick.

But in our family library, we have two Thanksgiving books that help get all of us — myself included — into a proper holiday frame of mind.


Thanksgiving is Here! by Diane Goode is a pretty simple, almost plotless picture book. Grandma and Grandpa host Thanksgiving for a huge, sprawling family, whose members arrive with frequent ringing of the doorbell and throw themselves right into the joyous celebration.  They help with the cooking, move the furniture, push tables and mismatched chairs together, clean up afterward, take a post-meal walk, and just generally enjoy each other’s company.

But even though the story is basic, the book is wonderfully compelling.  There’s a nice rhythm to the words, and Goode’s drawings are fabulous.  Each family member has so much personality, and the pictures of the family activities manage to capture the cheerful chaos of a huge family gathering.   My kids love this book, and I do too, because it reminds me of why I adore Thanksgiving: it’s a holiday that is all about loved ones gathering together around a table and enjoying each other’s company.  You don’t need more than that in life, really, and this gem of a book is a colorful reminder.


Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin is a classic from my era (written in 1971).   It’s about Maggie and her grandmother, who live in a house on the edge of a cranberry bog in New England.  Grandmother has a top-secret famous recipe for cranberry bread hidden behind the fireplace, and the plot starts to spin when they have two guests come over for Thanksgiving and one of them just might be trying to find and steal it (the cad!).

I won’t give away spoilers, but let’s just say that it’s a sweet story about not jumping to conclusions, and about not judging a book by its cover.  There’s a little theme of forgiveness at the end, too, which is nice.  And the illustrations are so colorful and charming, with that unique early ’70s picture book aesthetic. They are evocative, too; the drawings of the house by the bog always make me feel Thanksgiving-y and oddly nostalgic, even though this California girl would not know a cranberry bog if she fell headfirst into one.   It’s a darling book, and it even has a recipe for cranberry bread on the back cover … a nice touch.

Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving titles to share?  Please do!

3 responses to “Great Thanksgiving books for kids

  1. My kindergarten teacher read The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh every year to her class (because she taught my younger brother as well and I was a helper in her class during my last two years in elementary school I heard the story many a time). The story is loaded with history which I loved and I remember imagining the hardships the pilgrims must have faced, going from England to Holland and then ending up in a whole new world. My teacher would quiz us on these historical facts and even as kindergartners we were able to remember quite a lot. We learned not only about the pilgrims’ story but also about the Native Americans and we were all in awe of Squanto. I remember she taught us a native American prayer to say (we would say grace before meals as it was a Christian school): “May the Great Spirit keep you in his arms all day and all night” (we learned to sign this as well which made it everyone’s favorite prayer in kindergarten because we got to use our hands instead of sitting with our heads bowed and arms folded). I can’t wait to read the story to my son :).

  2. I remember that book! I have a strong visual memory of seeing it displayed in the library at our elementary school. I am also suddenly recalling another book by the same author/illustrator, one that I loved, about a little girl named Sarah Noble? (Am I right on that name? Must look it up.)

  3. No need, I loved that book, The Courage of Sarah Noble. I actually just re-ordered it on amazon because I have no idea where my copy is. I’m sure I read it 50 times over.

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!