Recommended Books for Teaching About Thanksgiving
From historical details to the spirit of gratitude and togetherness, these 10 titles cover all aspects of the holiday.
PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving
by Ann McGovern (Grades PreK–1)
Full-color illustrations bring to life this historically accurate account of how the children of Plymouth Colony helped contribute to the first Thanksgiving celebration.
Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit
by Norman Bridwell (Grades PreK–2)
What child wouldn't like to have a pet as special as Clifford the Big Red Dog? In this adventure, Clifford experiences an unusual Thanksgiving journey, ending with an appreciation of overcoming difficulties, celebrating tradition, and spending time with family.
by Barbara Cohen (Grades K–3)
Molly nears her first Thanksgiving in America and her classmates giggle at her Yiddish accent and make fun of her unfamiliar ways. Now her mother embarrasses her with a doll that looks more Russian than Pilgrim. Will Molly discover something to be thankful for?
Gracias, el pavo de Thanksgiving
by Joy Crowley (Grades PreK–2)
In this warm holiday story, a young Puerto Rican boy saves the life of his pet turkey with help from his close-knit New York City family and neighborhood. Beginning Spanish vocabulary is woven into the text, giving young readers a unique Thanksgiving story experience.
If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620
by Ann McGovern (Grades 1–4)
Answer children's questions about the Pilgrims with an enlightening Thanksgiving story. With the beautiful illustrations, young readers can imagine being right on the ship, waiting to arrive in a new land. As part of the If You series, this book helps bring history to life and nurture imagination.
Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving
by Joseph Bruchac (Grades K–3)
Travel back to 1620 as an English ship called the Mayflower lands on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket people. As Squanto welcomes the newcomers and teaches them how to survive in the rugged land they called Plymouth, young readers are treated to a story ending with the two peoples feasting together in the spirit of peace and brotherhood.
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
by Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac. Photographs by Cotton Coulson and Sisse Brimberg (Grades 3–5)
In October of 2000, Plimoth Plantation cooperated with the Wampanoag community to stage an historically accurate reenactment of the 1621 harvest celebration. 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving exposes the myth that this event was the "first Thanksgiving" and is the basis for the Thanksgiving holiday that is celebrated today. This exciting book describes the actual events that took place during the three days that the Wampanoag people and the colonists came together.
The First Thanksgiving
by Linda Hayward (Grades PreK–1)
Give young readers the familiar story behind our tradition of Thanksgiving Day, detailed in this easy-to-read history storybook. The Pilgrims' journey, the trials they endure while at sea, and all of their amazing adventures are conveyed with vibrant illustrations and simple words for utmost comprehension.
If You Were at the First Thanksgiving
by Anne Kamma (Grades 1-4)
Told from a child's perspective and illustrated in full color, this book brings the first Thanksgiving to life. Details about daily life put young readers into the middle of the action.
The Journal of Jasper Jonathan Pierce: A Pilgrim Boy, Plymouth, 1620
by Ann Rinaldi (Grades 4–8)
By promising seven years of labor to a fellow traveler, Jasper earns passage aboard the Mayflower and closes the door on his troubled past. His account of the arduous ocean crossing and first year in the New World shows young readers his physical and spiritual growth as he learns the strengths and weaknesses in himself, his Puritan people, and his Native American neighbors.
For an extensive list of titles about Thanksgiving, please check out the Thanksgiving Book List.