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As your child’s first (and best!) teacher, you open their minds to all sorts of new ideas, truths, and values. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to acknowledge the diverse and unique characteristics of indigenous cultures. We know it can be hard to find great books about Thanksgiving and First Nations/Native American culture. We know that the histories of indigenous peoples have been misrepresented and silenced in teaching, historically. YDL cares deeply about providing access to accurate, authentic narratives for all ages.

A great resource to educate yourself or refresh yourself on facts before educating your children is 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving.

With all of that in mind, we have provided a list of a few Thanksgiving books as suggested read-alouds. We acknowledge that our own collection of Thanksgiving books may not be perfect and we are committed to continuously reviewing the books we have in the Thanksgiving collection. Some books are about the historical Thanksgiving, but most are about what Thanksgiving has evolved into now: being thankful and spending time with family. 

Recognizing Indigenous Peoples Year-Round

Please note that while this book list is Thanksgiving-specific, Thanksgiving should not be the first or only time during November (Native American Heritage Month) you are seeking out books by and about Native people. Please seek out, support, and share books by Native authors year-round. Follow the website American Indians in Children’s Literature for recommended titles from a critical perspective. If you are looking for more information about sharing stories of Native American people and their history with your child, this is a great post written to parents. 

It is great to share indigenous texts with your little ones that take place in the present day. This will give indigenous children the opportunity to see themselves within the text (what we call “mirrors” in the educational field) and children who are not indigenous, to have insight into other cultures (“windows”).

By Kristen Hamilton (Whittaker Rd. Youth Para-professional) & Kristel Sexton (Whittaker Rd. Youth Librarian)

Resources from Oyate (a Native organization) and The Conscious Kid, in partnership with Dreese Nambe and The Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Thanksgiving Book List

cover of book called 1621 : a new look at Thanksgiving
1621 : a new look at Thanksgiving

Grace, Catherine O'Neill, 1950-

A recreation of the first Thanksgiving reveals the actual events during the three days that the Wampanoag people and the colonists came together.

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Balloons Over Broadway
Balloons Over Broadway

Sweet, Melissa, 1956-

In brilliant collage illustrations, Caldecott Honor artist Melissa Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America--the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy's Parade.

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Gracias book cover

Mora, Pat

A young boy celebrates family, friendship, and fun by telling about some of the everyday things for which he is thankful.

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Over the river and through the woods
Over the River and Through the Wood

Randall, Emma (ILT)

In this stunning paper-over-board picture book, a blustering wind stings the toes and bites the nose, but hearts are warm and there's lots to eat-for 'tis Thanksgiving Day.

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Squanto's Journey book cover
Squanto’s Journey

Bruchac, Joseph, 1942-

Squanto recounts how in 1614 he was captured by the British, sold into slavery in Spain, and ultimately returned to the New World to become a guide and friend for the colonists.

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Thankful picture book cover

Spinelli, Eileen

"Combines rhymes and illustrations to convey the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings"-- Provided by publisher.

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Thanks a million book cover
Thanks a Million

Grimes, Nikki

Sixteen poems remind us how wonderful it is to feel thankful and how powerful a "Thank you" can be.

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Thanks for thanksgiving
Thanks for Thanksgiving

Markes, Julie

At Thanksgiving time, children express their gratitude for the people and things in their lives.

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thanksgiving is for giving thanks
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks

Sutherland, Margaret

A child lists all the things for which he is thankful, especially at Thanksgiving.

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The Thankful Book
The Thankful Book

Parr, Todd

Easy-to-read text encourages the reader to find something every day for which to be thankful, from underwear that is just the right size to birthday cakes and the wishes they bring.

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thanksgiving door book cover
The Thanksgiving Door

Atwell, Debby

After burning their Thanksgiving dinner, Ann and Ed head for the local cafe, where they are welcomed by an immigrant family into an unusual celebration that gives everyone cause to be thankful.

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