Book Lists Picture Books

8 Fantastic Thanksgiving Picture Books

If you are looking to write a book in a non-crowded market, might I suggest Thanksgiving picture books? Because, whew, there are not a lot of impressive ones out there (or at least not a lot that impressed me).

Happily, there are some really wonderful Thanksgiving books out there that do a great job bringing meaning and excitement to Thanksgiving and we’ve read them over and over together for the past few years.

thanksgiving books

My favorite Thanksgiving books

  1.    This book is perfect for introducing early American history and giving some background to young children about why we actually celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s a great little peek into the life of
  2. The First Thanksgiving by Nancy Davis. I am a sucker for a cute board book, especially when there are flaps. The page where it showed the Pilgrims planting and you could open the flaps to see different things growing underground? I was instantly sold.
  3.  Over the River and Through the Wood by L. Maria Child and Matt Tavares. If you’re looking for a gorgeous picture book, the kind you’ll have as a display all season long, this is the one. Makes me almost want to live somewhere with snow (except, you know, not really).
  4. Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet. This is, hands down, my favorite Thanksgiving picture book (so much so that I wrote an entire post about it, which I rarely do about picture books). Melissa Sweet’s illustrations always blow me away, plus in this book, you get to see her amazing research and writing chops too. The Macy’s Parade is a Thanksgiving staple, but I had no idea how it got started, and this book made watching it even more fun
  5. Thank You Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson and Matt Faulkner. Sarah Hale worried that Thanksgiving Day was dying out and she made it her personal mission to make it a national holiday. She spent 38 years writing letters to five U.S. presidents in a row, attempting to convince them, but she didn’t succeed until Abraham Lincoln finally responded to her letters during the Civil War. This book is one of those magical biographies that is well-written, interesting, and even funny. (Sarah Gives Thanks is another excellent biography about Sarah Hale).
  6. One is a Feast for a Mouse by Judy Cox and Jeffrey Ebbeler. I love this cute little story about a mouse who goes to get a single pea from the leftover Thanksgiving feast, but then he starts getting more and more things, leaving him ill-prepared to run when the cat makes an appearance.
  8. You are My Little Pumpkin Pie by Amy E. Sklansky and Talitha Shipman. This little board book has been a favorite Thanksgiving book at our house for the past few years – we actually own two copies! It’s just a sweet little love note to babies that smell like cinnamon and spice and are just as delicious as a good slice of pumpkin pie.

Any Thanksgiving picture books to recommend? I’d love to add to my collection, which is nowhere near as good as my Halloween or Christmas collection.

If you liked this list of Thanksgiving books, you might also like these book lists:


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  • Reply Saskia November 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I remember #2, I loved that book.

  • Reply Abby November 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    We love to share 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey with our school-age kids. And I love All for Pie, Pie for All by David Martin (which is not technically a Thanksgiving book, but hey PIE). And I know Todd Parr appeals to a certain taste, but he just put out The Thankful Book.

  • Reply heather November 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions! I'm looking forward to finding Balloons over Broadyway.

    My mom sent me Off to Plymouth Rock by Dandi Daley Mackall for Anna's first Thanksgiving. It is a nice, rollicking poem in board book form. My kids love it. The illustrations aren't really my style, but they are detailed and engaging.

    My four year old was just enchanted with Little Bear's Thanksgiving by Janice. (Yes, just Janice) It's so 60's and the illustrations are very sweet.

  • Reply Audrey November 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Oh, I love Balloons Over Broadway ~ I never thought of it as a Thanksgiving book which is kind of silly. It totally is! We're vegetarians in this house so we particularly like 'Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving. So cute! But I do agree with you that there are not enough GOOD Thanksgiving books out there!

  • Reply Elaine November 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    It's Thanksgiving is a book of Jack Prelutsky poems. Thanksgiving at the Tappletons' is one of my favorites. P is for Pilgrim is a beautifully illustrated alphabet book, but really for older children. Cranberry Thanksgiving is another classic.

  • Reply Beth November 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I used "Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving" with a class of third graders for the second time yesterday. Haven't read "Sarah Gives Thanks" but I like the lighthearted way history is treated.

  • Reply Rachel November 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks! So lovely to not have to sift through lousy Thanksgiving books myself and just go for these winners! 🙂 ps- the deleted comment was by me, accidentally posted as my husband.

  • Reply Emily November 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    We've enjoyed An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott but now I can't find the edition we read that had gorgeous illustrations too. Happy hunting.

    • Reply Janssen November 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      I actually checked that one out! It's too long for Ella right now, but I'm excited to pull it out again in a couple of years.

  • Reply sarah s. November 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    I love hearing your recommendations! I need something to keep track of them though 🙂

  • Reply Megan G November 10, 2012 at 4:53 am

    We love "Turkey Trouble" by Wendi Silvano. My kids get such a kick out of the illustrations.

    • Reply Kimberly F. November 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      The former children's librarian at my library used this book and the preschool crowd loved it. The cover illustration alone is hilarious.

  • Reply Natalie November 11, 2012 at 5:19 am

    Our favorite Thanksgiving book is "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie" by Alison Jackson and Judy Schachner. My kids love it!

  • Reply Lisa November 14, 2012 at 3:40 am

    The Thanksgiving books are the saddest display of holiday books at our library every year. Last week we tried Rivka's First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael and really enjoyed it. It's better suited for grade school kids, and my 4th grader liked it best of my three children.

  • Reply Heidi Grimshaw November 3, 2017 at 10:59 am

    I can’t wait to check these out! Our favorite Thanksgiving book is “A Turkey for Thanksgiving” by Eve Bunting. It’s a great one.

  • Reply Heidi Grimshaw November 3, 2017 at 11:02 am

    These look great! We love “A Turkey for Thanksgiving” by Eve Bunting.

  • Reply Avery Milne November 3, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    My kids love cranberry thanksgiving. It’s probably in the top 10 most read all year long. I keep it out bc they love it that much. It’s sometimes funny to me what makes that list, but for some reason that one does!

  • Reply Honour Del Crognale November 3, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    The Great Thanksgiving Escape is a winner in our library! Also Thanksgiving Rules and Bear Says Thanks.

  • Reply Jordan November 4, 2017 at 4:28 am

    My 2 favorite books to read at story time this time of year are Turkey Trouble and The Great Thanksgiving Escape! Enjoy!

  • Reply Ashley November 4, 2017 at 8:35 am

    One of my favorites is “Thankful” by Eileen Spinelli. Not specifically Thanksgiving, but a way to look at gratitude in everyday, small ways. And her pictures are so sweet.

  • Reply Annie November 6, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller will always be my #1 Thanksgiving picture book. It’s heartwarming, which is just what a book about Thanksgiving ought to be.

    • Reply Lisa November 4, 2018 at 6:50 pm

      I second that one!

  • Reply Courtney November 7, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano for the win!

  • Reply Elaine Doolittle November 1, 2018 at 3:30 am

    One of our friends has just written a new book, encouraging family philanthropy, called Thanks-for-Giving Day.

  • Reply Aaryn November 1, 2018 at 4:28 am

    Sometimes It’s Turkey, Sometimes It’s Feathers by Lorna Balian — it’s an old one, but my all-time favorite!!

  • Reply Christine November 1, 2018 at 4:40 am

    I’ll have to check out some of these we haven’t read yet! I just spotted a brand new Over the River… edition illustrated by Emma Randall that looks great…I’ve been meaning to pick a favorite to add to our collection and that one may be it 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca Lately November 1, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Thanks for the recommendations! I got all four of our Thanksgiving books out and now I have more to add to our collection.

  • Reply Talia's Travel Blog November 1, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Molly’s Pilgrim.

  • Reply Sally November 1, 2018 at 11:19 am

    These look great. We love Balloons Over Broadway. Have you read The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell? My daughters (now 2 and 5) really love this one. It might be quirky for some, but there’s something about the illustrations and the sweet story – seems to really captivate them!

  • Reply Brittany November 1, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Aww what about Thanksgiving in the Woods?!

  • Reply Natalie November 1, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    I completely agree about the lack of Thanksgiving picture books but my most favorite is “A Turkey for Thanksgiving” by Eve Bunting. The illustrations are wonderful and the story is cute- it never feels like Thanksgiving to me until I’ve read it!

  • Reply Anna November 1, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Mousekins Thanksgiving (and all mousekin books for that matter!), Sometimes it’s Turkey, Sometimes it’s Feathers, Cranberry Thanksgiving, A Turkey for Thanksgiving. I know there are more, I just can’t think of titles!

  • Reply Anna November 1, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson!

  • Reply Jodi November 1, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    The only one I really love is Over the River…
    I did find another version of that last year that was fun, a more modern one, by Linda Ashman. I also like Sharing the Bread: an old fashioned thanksgiving story

  • Reply Kiley November 2, 2018 at 7:36 am

    There are a few good books about gratitude that could be nice additions to a Thanksgiving collection. Look and Be Grateful by Tomie DePaola, Thankful by Eileen Spinelli, and the Thankful Book by Todd Parr. I also like Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkins, which isn’t thanksgiving related, but would be a nice Thanksgiving-y/apples/farmers/adventure read. It’s such a fun read aloud.
    More and more I’m wanting Thanksgiving to be an important holiday for my family—and not just the starting gate to Christmas. I love the idea of encouraging thankfulness—and a holiday that is about being together (without fireworks or piles of presents or candy or costumes or egg hunts or any of that).

  • Reply Steph Western November 2, 2018 at 11:45 am

    One that I discovered during a library story time and liked is called “Thank you, Thanksgiving.” It’s a simple picture book but really sweet for younger kids. It’s about a little girl who walks to the store on Thanksgiving Day to get a last-minute ingredient for dinner and thanks all the things she sees.

    I also second the votes for Eileen Spinelli’s Thankful! We bought that one a couple of years ago to bring out in November, and every year we all say what we are thankful for and write it inside the book.

  • Reply Diana November 2, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    I LOVE Balloons Over Broadway! We read it every year around Thanksgiving, I should probably just buy a copy!

  • Reply Abby November 2, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    We like Otis Gives Thanks by Loren Long. Not sure it’s technically a Thanksgiving book, but it’s about being thankful so it works for us!

  • Reply Courtney Hague November 3, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I love “Before We Eat” by Pat Brisson as a Thanksgiving Book. It’s not technically about Thanksgiving but it has you follow some food from farm to table in a very simple way and give thanks all along the way (even to the truck drivers who bring the food to the supermarket)

  • Reply Lara Weaver November 3, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    How Many Days to America: A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Bunting is really good. Especially in light of the current immigration crisis.

  • Reply Melanie Fisher November 5, 2018 at 11:33 am

    I just recently discovered that Over the River is Thanksgiving and not Christmas! My 2-year-old loves Sharing the Bread …probably because we sing it instead of just reading…it’s one of those rhyming ones that just begs to be sung. We use a variation of the tune of Polly Put the Kettle On.

  • Reply Sarah November 5, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    We like The Ugly Pumpkin – a pumpkin based book that is actually really about Thanksgiving. Great list! And have loved reading the comments.

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