As an adult, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. But, as the daughter of immigrants who were 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. Now, as adults, we’re learning that much of what we learned has not been the entire truth. There is not much we can do to change the things we were taught. However, what is within our grasp is how we approach these topics without our little ones. As Maya Angelou said, “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 relearning 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. Read on for 19 Thanksgiving books for kids that are both cute and culturally responsive.
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?
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 is still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations. It's a beautiful book written and illustrated by Indigenous peoples.
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.
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.
This article was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for timeliness.