25 Best Thanksgiving Books 2021

When Halloween is over, you can put away all your spooky and scary books for kids — but you might want something that still gives you that crisp, fall flavor and gets you excited for the next holiday. The best Thanksgiving books, of course, are the ones that remind kids to be grateful for all the good things in their lives, an idea that might get lost in the bustle of the big feast with all the Thanksgiving activities and Thanksgiving games. Then again, you might just want a laugh (because turkeys are inherently pretty silly). There are also books that catch up with kids’ favorite characters, and what they do to celebrate the holidays.

Something that often happens around this time of year: You may be looking for stories that tell more accurate depictions of the lives of Native American tribes than the tales that are typically brought out every November. The American Indian Library Association and American Indians in Children’s Literature are both great resources for those looking to read more, and their best books lists are fantastic additions to any kid’s home library. (We Are Water Protectors, a 2020 pick that also won the Caldecott Medal, is especially popular in my house.)

Even if you’re just looking for books about food, family and giving thanks, there are plenty of great Thanksgiving books to read in 2021, ordered by reading age.

Be Thankful, Pout-Pout Fish

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
amazon.com

$5.99

May We Have Enough to Share

Orca Book Publishers
amazon.com

$10.95

You won’t find turkey and stuffing in this book, but it is about the most important elements of Thanksgiving: sharing and being thankful. The photos are from the artists behind the tea&bannock blog for indigenous women photographers. Ages 0+

Bilingual Board Book

My Heart Fills With Happiness

Orca Book Publishers
amazon.com

$9.95

What fills your heart with happiness? In this book, a little girl names the things that make her heart swell, including the faces of those she loves. The words of this book are written in both English and Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Ojibwe people. Ages 0+

Over the River and Through the Wood

NorthSouth Books
amazon.com

$8.95

Everyone knows this old song, so you can probably “read” this book without ever looking at the words. That affords you more time to look at the beautiful woodcut illustrations. Ages 0+

Happy Thanksgiving, Curious George

HMH Books for Young Readers
amazon.com

That’s just so much for this little monkey to be curious about! Each page features a different poem about George’s adventures, and the book is tabbed so little hands can flip right to their favorite ones. Ages 0+

We Give Thanks

Beach Lane Books
amazon.com

$17.99

This book comes from Cynthia Rylant, the beloved author of the Henry and Mudge and Annie and Snowball series. In this one, a pair of friends — a bunny and frog — go around being thankful for their favorite things, but there’s no turkey on the table, so you can read it all year. It comes out on September 7, but it’s available for pre-order now. Ages 2+

Best Thanksgiving Book for Toddlers

Thanksgiving for Emily Ann

Cartwheel Books
amazon.com

$16.99

Emily Ann takes on a Grinch-like role in this rhyming story. She doesn’t like Thanksgiving since it makes her family too busy to pay attention to her, so she plans a prank with the turkey. This is good for any kid who feels overlooked during the holiday bustle. Ages 2+

I Am Thankful

Rockridge Press
amazon.com

$7.83

This book follows three different families and shows how each of them celebrates the holiday. There are also suggestions in the back for how to keep the spirit of gratitude going even when the book is closed. Ages 3+

Around the Table That Grandad Built

Candlewick
amazon.com

$16.99

Each line of this book builds on the last, just like in “The House That Jack Built.” Only instead of a house, this family is building a feast, all around the table that Grandad built. While it’s a great read-aloud book, early readers will love getting into the rhythm and trying to finish the lines themselves. Ages 3+

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is a word members of the Cherokee tribe use to express their gratitude, and this book goes through each of the seasons naming things to be thankful for. There are other Cherokee words throughout, along with how to pronounce them — though you can also get the Wonderbook version that says everything aloud for you as you read along. Ages 3+

Peyton Picks the Perfect Pie

America’s Test Kitchen Kids
amazon.com

If you have a kid who loves getting in the kitchen, this might be the Thanksgiving book for them. It’s from America’s Test Kitchen, so of course it includes the recipe for the perfect pie. It tells the story of Peyton, who doesn’t like trying new foods, so you might want to read it to your picky eaters, too. Ages 4+

RELATED: Good Housekeeping Kids Bake! 100+ Sweet and Savory Recipes

Funny Thanksgiving Book

How to Catch a Turkey

Sourcebooks Wonderland
amazon.com

Duck for Turkey Day

Albert Whitman & Company
amazon.com

$7.99

This book reminds kids that no two families celebrate Thanksgiving the exact same way. In it, Tuyet, who comes from a Vietnamese American family, has mixed feelings about her family’s holiday feast, which includes duck instead of turkey. When she returns to school after the break, she realizes that lots of her classmates’ families put their own twists on Thanksgiving dinner too. Ages 4+

Not This Turkey!

Albert Whitman & Company
amazon.com

In this story, the main character is from an immigrant family that has never celebrated Thanksgiving. But when his father wins a turkey (and takes it home on the New York City subway), his mother starts planning a feast — until Papa develops a soft spot for the turkey. Ages 4+

Balloons over Broadway

HMH Books for Young Readers
amazon.com

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes center stage here, and any kid who’s watched the big balloons on TV will be delighted by this book. It tells the story of Tony Sarg, a puppeteer who came up with the idea of adding the big balloons to the parade. Ages 4+

One Is a Feast for Mouse

Holiday House
amazon.com

$7.99

When Mouse pops out of his hole to check out the Thanksgiving leftovers, one pea would be enough for his feast. But he doesn’t stop there, and he keeps adding one: one cranberry, one scoop of mashed potatoes. This story is perfect for everyone who has overindulged (meaning just about everybody). Ages 4+

Thanks a Million

Greenwillow Books
amazon.com

$17.89

This book, by poet Nikki Grimes, explores what it means to feel thankful. It uses different kinds of poetic forms, so it’s also good for kids who are interested in learning about poetry. Ages 4+

Best Thanksgiving Book for Preschoolers

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

Scholastic Inc.
amazon.com

Dav Pilky, author of the Dog Man series, tells a Thanksgiving story as zany as you’d expect from the creator of Captain Underpants. It tells the “tall-tailed tall tale” of eight kids who go visit a turkey farm on Thanksgiving Eve, and the antics that ensue. Ages 4+

The Great Thanksgiving Escape

Candlewick
amazon.com

$6.99

The kids are bored at Grandma’s house — so they plan a breakout, and want to make for the backyard swings. But a number of obstacles stand in their way, including dogs wearing sweaters and overly affectional relatives. Will they make it? Ages 5+

The Little Kids’ Table

Sleeping Bear Press
amazon.com

We’ve all been relegated to the kids’ table at one time or another, but, in this book, it turns out the kids’ table is the place to be. A group of cousins share the table throughout the meal and show kids there are big joys to being in those small chairs. Ages 5+

Cranberry Thanksgiving

Brand: Purple House Press
amazon.com

When Maggie is allowed to invite a guest to Thanksgiving dinner, she picks Mr. Whiskers, much to her grandmother’s dismay — she’s afraid he’ll steal the recipe for her famed cranberry bread. This book is a classic, going all the way back to 1971 — and, yes, it does include the recipe! Ages 5+

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

Lee & Low Books
amazon.com

$10.19

Chief Jake Swamp of the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation has delivered the Iroquois Thanksgiving Address throughout the world. This book contains a special children’s version of the address, adapted from a message of gratitude still told at ceremonial gatherings held the Six Nations. Ages 5+

Best Poetry Book for Thanksgiving

Thanku: Poems of Gratitude

Millbrook Press
amazon.com

$19.99

This anthology contains more than 30 poems from diverse writers using a variety of poetry forms, all created around the theme of thankfulness. They’re illustrated by Marlena Myles, a Native American graphic designer and it includes a letter from editor Miranda Paul about ‘the myths and half-truths’ about Thanksgiving and indigenous people. Ages 6+

Best Nonfiction Thanksgiving Book

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving

National Geographic Kids
amazon.com

$7.95

National Geographic Kids uses this photo essay to give a more historically accurate portrayal of the first Thanksgiving, from the perspective of both the colonists and the Wampanoag tribe. Even adults say they learn new things when they read this one. Ages 8+

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

For older teens looking to delve deeper into the history, this book, which isn’t written specifically for kids, gives a fuller picture. Historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz debunks the founding myth, gives an overview of the policies enacted against indigenous people in the United States and connects it all to present-day events, like the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

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