Books to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Reading recommendations from our own Dr. Alice Mar

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and at the top of my list of things to be thankful for is books! Here is a short list of some of my family’s favorite books to read around this holiday:

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Melissa Sweet’s books are a national treasure to be grateful for in that of themselves—engaging and visually interesting using an unusual collage style of illustrations, she brings books to life. In Balloons Over Broadway, she tells the story of Tony Sarg, a puppeteer who came up with the well-known giant helium balloons in the Macy’s Parade.

Fry Bread: A Native American Story by Kevin Noble Mallard

This book features a modern Native American and the story of fry bread. It’s a good book to read around this time of year to learn more about Native American history and culture. It also illustrates strong themes of food, culture, and family that resonate around Thanksgiving. Of note, the author is a member of the Seminole Nation.

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruhac

Another book told by a Native American author, Joseph Bruhac, this one tells the traditional well-known story of the first Thanksgiving but from the perspective of one of the Native Americans who lived it.

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower (or John Howland’s Good Fortune) by P. J. Lynch 

This book tells the true story of John Howland, a young teen who was traveling on the Mayflower as an indentured servant. He actually did fall off the Mayflower and was then rescued and went on to be part of the Plymouth settlement. The book is beautifully illustrated and gives a different perspective on what life was like for a young colonist.

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano

This book tells the story of a turkey who doesn’t want to be eaten for dinner. He cleverly tries to disguise himself as other animals but nothing works until the end when he comes up with an ingenious solution. (Spoiler alert…it might mean your kids want pizza instead of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.)

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson

This book features the story of Sarah Hale, a nineteenth century abolitionist, writer and editor, who took on the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national day as a personal cause. Her letter to Abraham Lincoln may have been the thing that spurred him to finally designate it as a national day in 1863.

Setting the Turkeys Free by W. Nikola-Lisa

A celebration of creativity and Thanksgiving. A young boy makes classic handprint turkeys with typical art supplies but his imagination takes it a step further and turns them into a herd of real turkeys. Will they be able to escape from Foxy the Fox (who resembles the boy’s dog)? This book is a great companion to a craft project if your kids want to try to make their own handprint turkeys.

Feast for 10 by Catherine Falwell

This counting book isn’t technically a Thanksgiving book, but it always makes me think of Thanksgiving as it shows a family shopping, cooking, and eating a feast together.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’ by Eileen Spinellis

A superbly silly story of a family who has one disaster after another threaten to ruin their planned feast. It all ends well as they enjoy a non-traditional meal together though.

One is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale by Judy Cox

The story of a little mouse who just wants one pea from the family’s leftovers. But then he sees the mashed potatoes…and the cranberries…and so on and so forth. It will make kids giggle to see the little mouse try and gather a towering stack of food. And maybe feel relatable to all of us after a huge Thanksgiving feast.