Thanksgiving Books for the Classroom
Celebrating Thanksgiving reminds us that being thankful and having gratitude generates positive, hopeful, and healing attitudes and feelings.
“Gratitude unlocks the fulness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” - Melody Beattle, self-help author
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Turkey, cranberries, hot rolls dripping butter, mashed potatoes, and my mom’s homemade lemon meringue pie. But the holiday goes far beyond the feast.
Thanksgiving is a time to hold what is most important close to our hearts and give gratitude for a year full of new beginnings, challenges, and growth. Without the people in our lives and our challenges, we would not be who and what we are today.
Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Classroom
Go beyond the origins of Thanksgiving in your classroom to get to the heart of the holiday with read-aloud Thanksgiving books. Some of the best Thanksgiving books for elementary school reading focus on recognizing the good things and people in our lives and how to express gratitude for them.
Toddlers love chunky books with bright colors. Help them start understanding the gratitude of Thanksgiving.
- Be Thankful, Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
What is the best part of Thanksgiving for Pout-Pout Fish? It is the happiness of a heart full of thankfulness.
- The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
Parr suggests reasons to be thankful for hair, ears, friends, pets, hands, feet, walks, music, and even underwear to wear on your head. This fun book helps toddlers associate everyday things with the joy of gratitude.
- Five Little Thank-Yous by Cindy Jin
Using rhyme, Jin teaches toddlers the importance of a warm home, food to share, friends, love, and being uniquely you.
Preschoolers are ready for longer picture books with lots of actions, plot twists, and play on words. Being grateful for others drives connections, self-awareness, and interactions.
- A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
Mr. Moose is on a mission. He needs to find a real turkey for Thanksgiving for Mrs. Moose. With the help of Rabbit, Mr. And Mrs. Goat, Sheep, and Porcupine, he might be able to locate a turkey in time for dinner.
- Dino-Thanksgiving by Lisa Wheeler
The power of Thanksgiving from gathering to feasting to football is animated by dinosaurs. Preschoolers will love identifying brachiosaurus, stegosaurus, triceratops, allosaurus, and velociraptors feasting, caring, and playing.
Read aloud books for K-1st Grade
Kindergarteners and first graders are ready for an adventure of their own. Reading out loud helps them connect with who they are and who they want to be.
- The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing
This book is perfect for older preschoolers or kindergartners who aren’t babies, but not zombies either. How will Gavin and Rhonda escape the guard dog, the aunts, the great wall of rear ends, and the zombies to create their own fun?
- Thanksgiving Rules by Laurie Friedman
To get the most out of Thanksgiving, the feast, the relatives, and your parents follow Percy’s 10 simple rules. Rule #10 is the best. It demonstrates how to show those who matter most how much you love and appreciate them.
- Over the River and Through the Woods by Linda Ashman
How will you get to Grandpa and Grandma’s house with your favorite holiday pie? Will you go by car, train, plane, boat, balloon, or horse-drawn sled? Using rhyme and engaging illustration, Ashman highlights gratitude for family (regardless of size or circumstance), warm homes, and succulent pie.
- Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin
Grandmother’s cranberry bread was famous for miles around. In the past, bakers had offered plenty of money for the recipe. But the recipe wasn’t for sale. Maggie’s Grandmother was suspicious of an old man Maggie called Mr. Whiskers. “Too many whiskers and not enough soap,” according to Grandma.
For Thanksgiving, Grandma and Maggie each invite someone poor or lonely to join them for dinner. What will happen when Maggie invites Mr. Whiskers and Grandma invites Mr. Horace, a nice smelling man with a gold cane?
For Children Learning to Read (K-1st Grade)
One of the best parts of growing up is learning to read. Repetitive words with unexpected endings engage and encourage young readers to keep reading.
- Bad Kitty Does Not Like Thanksgiving by Nick Bruel
The beloved character, Bad Kitty, is at it again. How can he get turkey right now? It is Thanksgiving, after all.
- Run, Turkey, Run by Diane Mayr
Farmer is searching all over for turkey for his Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey escapes by finding the perfect hiding spot. Well... until Christmas.
For 2nd-3rd Grade
Older children are ready to dive into the details surrounding the origins of the first Thanksgiving celebrated in 1621 involving the Mayflower pilgrims and Wampanoag natives. The harvest feast celebrated the earth’s bounties grown, harvested, and stored for winter.
- Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac
Native American writer, Joseph Bruchac, relates the first American Thanksgiving feast taken from Tisquatum’s or Squanto’s point of view. Having grown up among the Patuxet people in present-day Virginia, Squanto was tricked by a ship’s captain, sailed to Spain, and sold into slavery.
Squanto’s Journey is a story of courage, hope, forgiveness, and gratitude.
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Thank you for teaching and making a difference in the world, one child at a time. Check out our blog for more book reviews, self-care and relaxation ideas, and classroom management tips.
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By: Jae O. Haroldsen