Books to Read With Kids on Thanksgiving

by Madeleine Deliee
Nov 13, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Thanksgiving can be a lot of things: delicious, delightful, controversial, uncomfortable. But many of us can agree that gathering together with family — especially kids — can present the perfect moment to share a story.

So why not make your Thanksgiving weekend about taking a brief pause before the whirlwind of December hits? It's a golden opportunity to spend a few quiet minutes to read, reflect and learn with your child — about the meaning of the holiday, related history or even different ways to celebrate (or not) today. And if you (hi, parents) are on chef duty this year, you can save these books for after dinner or pass them along to a grandparent, aunt, uncle or older sibling for some quality time with their favorite young person. After all, anyone can do the honors of reading to a kid — and if you’re responsible for the feast, you can be thankful for the distraction.

No matter who is doing the reading, we've lined up book suggestions for all ages — stories about being thankful, about the man behind the Macy’s parade balloons and the real (often misrepresented) story behind the first Thanksgiving. So grab one of these and get ready for kids to be enthralled, amused, surprised, you name it — no matter what, there's bound to be lively discussion over all that leftover pie.

1 /8: 'Llama Llama Gives Thanks'

1/8 :'Llama Llama Gives Thanks'

Little Llama was so popular around our house, I really wish we’d had this one too. The Llama Llama books use appealing pictures and rhyme to teach kids life lessons — and somehow still manage to avoid being cloying.

Llama Llama Gives Thanks (board book), $5.68 on Amazon

2 /8: 'Thanks from the Very Hungry Caterpillar'

2/8 :'Thanks from the Very Hungry Caterpillar'

A new entry from the Eric Carle canon, this book lets the forever-eating insect — which seems appropriate before the big feast day — teach little ones about gratitude.

Thanks from the Very Hungry Caterpillar (hardcover), $8.81 on Amazon

3 /8: 'Squanto's Journey'

3/8 :'Squanto's Journey'

This version of the Thanksgiving story is told from the perspective of Squanto, the Native American who shared his knowledge and helped the newcomers from England to survive. Joseph Bruchac, a Native American author, gives a fresh, important take on this often-misrepresented piece of history.

Squanto's Journey (paperback), $7.33 on Amazon

4 /8: '1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving'

4/8 :'1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving'

This book builds understanding about the Wampanoag tribe and its history and culture as well as providing researched and historically accurate information about the first Thanksgiving. The nonfiction approach will appeal to older kids; this one is recommended for grades third to fifth.

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving (paperback), $7.95 on Amazon

5 /8: 'Balloons Over Broadway'

5/8 :'Balloons Over Broadway'

If Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be complete at your house without the Macy’s parade, you’ll love Balloons Over Broadway. This prize-winning book tells the story of the man behind the incredible helium giants.

Balloons Over Broadway (hardcover), $11.79 on Amazon

6 /8: 'Duck for Turkey Day'

6/8 :'Duck for Turkey Day'

A lovely story about the “right” way to celebrate Thanksgiving (hint: There isn’t one), this is a great reminder of what giving thanks really means.

Duck for Turkey Day (paperback), $6.21 on Amazon

7 /8: 'Feast for 10'

7/8 :'Feast for 10'

This isn't specifically a Thanksgiving book, but it is about a family coming together to feast. Plus, it has great pictures and encourages little ones to count along — maybe it can even help occupy them while you get the shopping done. It's worth a try!

Feast for 10 (board book), $4.95 on Amazon

8/8 :Pin it!

Pin this and reference it when you're ready for storytime.