19 Children’s Books for Thanksgiving That Are Cute and Culturally Responsive

As an adult, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. But, as the daughter of immigrants who were very new to America, I never felt like we were doing it “right” as a child. Holidays and traditions, regardless of their most wholesome intents, sometimes have an exclusionary factor about them – some part of the story is always left untold.

As kids, we learned the story of Thanksgiving from a very privileged perspective and now as adults, we’re learning that much of what we learned to have been not the entire truth. There is not much we can do to change the things that we were taught, but what is within our grasp is how we approach these topics without our little ones. As Maya Angelou says, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

As a mother, this has become a driving force in my parenting – now that I know better, I want to do better. And in many ways, this means re-learning the things I thought I knew. So when I look for books for my kids for any and every occasion (seriously, cannot stop with the books), I try to consider the perspectives that might be missing from the conversation.

For Thanksgiving, we have adorable, fun stories about friendship and sharing and turkey. We have warm, comforting stories about gratefulness and giving thanks. And we have sobering, perspective-shifting stories about how people different from us think, feel, and live. And though one of my favorite things is teaching my kids, what I love even more is learning right alongside them.

 

Board Books

 

Thankful

Thankful combines charming rhymes and whimsical illustrations to convey the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings.

Bright Baby: Happy Thanksgiving

This sturdy board book introduces simple Thanksgiving words with fun images – perfect for the tiniest of readers.

Be Thankful, Pout-Pout Fish

Pout Pout Fish is a toddler favorite and this super cute story is just the right length for young readers.

Biscuit Is Thankful

Biscuit introduces the concept of being thankful in a way that is accessible for tiny tots.

The Ugly Pumpkin

This charming tale about a pumpkin who doesn't quite fit in on Halloween will entice children and adults alike with its unexpected ending.

Where Is Baby's Turkey?: A Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Book

Karen Katz books are always a hit with babies and this lift-the-flap one is sure to be no different.

Happy Thanksgiving, Curious George Board Book

George takes on all of the usual aspects of Thanksgiving, giving it the curious twist that only George can.

Llama Llama Gives Thanks

Llama Llama introduces Thanksgiving with short and simple rhyming text and a focus on being grateful.

 

Picture Books

 

Thanksgiving in the Woods

Every year a family and their friends gather in the woods to celebrate Thanksgiving among the trees. Everyone brings something to share and the day becomes a long celebration of family and friendship.

Balloons Over Broadway

This book tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, who inspired the helium balloons that would become the trademark of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

The Very First Americans

Long before Columbus landed in America, hundreds of groups of people had already made their homes here. You may have heard of some of them—like the Sioux, Hopi, and Seminole. But where did they live? What did they eat? How did they have fun? And where are they today?

In November

In November, the air grows cold and the earth and all of its creatures prepare for winter. Animals seek food and shelter. And people gather together to celebrate their blessings with family and friends.

The Autumn Visitors

In this book, a bear family experiences the adventures of fall, including a county fair, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

Bear Says Thanks

The playful text and charming illustrations bring to life this celebration of family and friendship.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

Giving Thanks is a special children's version of the Thanksgiving Address, a message of gratitude that originated with the Native people of upstate New York and Canada and that is still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations. It's an absolutely beautiful book, written and illustrated by Indigenous peoples.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.

Duck for Turkey Day

It's almost Thanksgiving, and Tuyet is excited about the holiday and the vacation from school. There's just one problem: her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner - not turkey! Kids from all families with different traditions will enjoy this warm story about "the right way" to celebrate an American holiday.

Molly's Pilgrim

The touching story tells how recent immigrant Molly leads her third-grade class to discover that it takes all kinds of pilgrims to make a Thanksgiving.

Gracias/Thanks

In a series of poetic sentences, a young boy (biracial Mexican/white) tells about some of the everyday things for which he is thankful.

 

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