Thanksgiving Tales

Gracias: The Thanksgiving Turkey

These books offer lots of ways to celebrate and give thanks, from indigenous perspectives on Thanksgiving to immigrant stories about the things for which we are thankful. Many of the books are also available in Spanish.

For more ideas on classroom connections, see the following:

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving

A considerable amount of information is packed into this pictorial presentation of the reenactment of the first Thanksgiving, held at Plimoth Plantation museum in October, 2000…Five chapters give background on the Wampanoag people, colonization, Indian diplomacy, the harvest of 1621, and the evolution of the Thanksgiving story. — School Library Journal

Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition

Illustrated by: John Madama
Age Level: Middle Grade

For the Wampanoag Indians (the descendants of those who greeted the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620) in Mashpee, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, the clambake is more than just a many-splendored outdoor dinner; it is a traditional ceremony of their people. Twelve-year-old Steven Peters, grandson of the author, learns from Peters the history and traditions of their people, including the creation of a special clambake. — School Library Journal (We Are Still Here: Native Americans Today)

Duck for Turkey Day

Illustrated by: Kathryn Mitter
Age Level: 3-6

Tuyet is excited for Thanskgiving! She tells her mother that it is time to buy a turkey, but when she learns that her family will be having duck instead, Tuyet is very worried. It's Turkey Day, not Duck Day! When it comes time to tell the class what she ate for Turkey Day, Tuyet is in for a special surprise. This heartwarming story is a beautiful reminder of the unique ways we each celebrate our own traditions.

Feeling Thankful

Age Level: 6-9

Full-color photographs on well-composed pages introduce a multicultural cast of kids. Each child expresses what he or she is thankful for — from family and friends to a pet mouse — in this handsome and useful book.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

Painting of wilderness scene
Illustrated by: Erwin Printup, Jr.
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

In this poignant and graceful picture book, Chief Jake Swamp gives thanks to Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants for sharing their rare and precious gifts. According to the author's note, these words are still spoken at ceremonial and governmental gatherings held by the Six Nations. Available in Spanish. Related classroom activities are included in this teachers guide.

Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey

Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda
Age Level: 3-6

In this warm holiday story, a young Puerto Rican boy saves the life of his pet turkey on Thanksgiving with help from his close-knit New York City family and neighborhood. Spanish vocabulary is woven into the text. Spanish version available.


Young boy with dog
By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: John Parra
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

From the sun that wakens him to the cricket that serenades him to sleep, a young boy gives thanks for the many kinds of friends who help him throughout the day. Pat Mora's reflection on gratitude is filled with kindness and humor, brought to life by John Parra's heartwarming illustrations. Pat concludes the book with an author's note about the things she for which she feels grateful. Bilingual text.

How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story

Illustrated by: Beth Peck
Age Level: 6-9

After the soldiers come, Papa tells his family that they must leave everything behind and set sail for America. The journey across the Caribbean is dangerous and long, and our narrator and his little sister keep asking — just how many days is it to America? Prolific children's author Eve Bunting, herself an immigrant from Ireland, shares the story of a new generation of pilgrims who are willing to risk their lives to look for freedom in America.

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

Try as he might, Mr. McGreely cannot outwit three clever and hungry rabbits as they feast on his vegetable garden — muncha, muncha, muncha! But there's always something to be grateful for as both the gardener and the rabbits learn in this funny, alliterative tale.

Pumpkin Soup! / Sopa de Calabaza

Though they have a spat over who is to be Head Cook, best friends — Squirrel, Cat, and Duck — wind up making the best pumpkin soup ever. Their friendship as well as the soup is something for which to be grateful!

Thank You Day: Ready-to-Read Pre-Level 1

Thank You Day: Ready-to-Read Pre-Level 1
Illustrated by: Gord Garwood
Age Level: 3-6

It is Neighborhood Thank You Day in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe! Join Daniel Tiger and his friends as they put special notes on the Thank You Tree. Who will Daniel decide to thank with his note? Find out in this special story for pre-schoolers and early readers.

Thank You, Omu!

Young child smelling pot of stew
By: Oge Mora
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu's delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself? Debut author-illustrator Oge Mora brings to life a heartwarming story of sharing and community in colorful cut-paper designs as luscious as Omu's stew, with an extra serving of love.

Thanku: Poems of Gratitude

child blowing on dandilion and out flows a rainbow of colors
Illustrated by: Marlena Myles
Age Level: 6-9

This poetry anthology, edited by Miranda Paul, explores a wide range of ways to be grateful (from gratitude for a puppy to gratitude for family to gratitude for the sky) with poems by a diverse group of contributors, including Joseph Bruchac, Margarita Engle, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Naomi Shihab Nye, Charles Waters, and Jane Yolen.

We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Cherokee community celebration
Illustrated by: Frané Lessac
Language: Cherokee

The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this award-winning look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.