As Thanksgiving approaches, many children, teachers, and caregivers will begin searching for books about this popular American holiday. Because the tradition has its origins in the early encounters between European colonists and Native Americans, selection of quality books that are also culturally sensitive and historically accurate can be a delicate task.
The list below contains a sample of the many Thanksgiving-themed books found in the Education and Social Science Library’s School Collection. Items were selected based on recommendations from the 8th edition of Best Books for Children, and were checked against the ‘Books to Avoid’ About Thanksgiving list on the Oyate website. The non-fiction titles provide information on the Thanksgiving holiday, as well as background information about the peoples involved and the environment in which the first Thanksgiving was held. Fiction titles can be found towards the bottom of the list.
Additional books about Thanksgiving can be found by entering “Thanksgiving Day” into a subject search in the UIUC Online Catalog. Additional resources for locating books about Native American peoples can be found on the S-Collection’s “Native American Young Adult and Children’s Literature” page.
Barr, Catherine, and John T. Gillespie. Best Books for Children: Preschool Through Grade 6.
(8th ed.) Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2006.
[Education Juvenile Reference: S.011.62 B271b2006]
“‘Books to Avoid’ About Thanksgiving.” Oyate Website. Accessed 10/28/2007.
Discovery and Settlement: Europe Meets the New World, 1490-1700. (1993).
Presents primary source materials related to the discovery and settlement of America and daily life in the colonies, including the experiences of Native Americans, African Americans, and women.
Call No.: S.973.2 B813
The Mayflower Compact. (2003).
Discusses the history of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts, the early government of the Plymouth Colony, and the document known as the Mayflower Compact.
Call No.: S.974.4 C245m
Daily Life in the Pilgrim Colony, 1636. (2001).
Text, drawings, photographs, and maps describe how the Pilgrims lived at the Plymouth colony in 1636.*
Call No.: Q.S.974.48202 Er44da
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. (2001).
Grace, Catherine O’Neill.
This appealing and informative photoessay presents the historically correct story of the first Thanksgiving as reenacted at the Plimoth Plantation.*
Call No.: S.394.2649 G753s
A Pioneer Thanksgiving: A Story of Harvest Celebrations in 1841.
This book about a family’s Thanksgiving celebration in 1841 includes recipes, craft projects, and games.*
Call No.: S.394.2649 G856p
Four Seasons of Corn: A Winnebago Tradition. (1997).
Hunter, Sally M.
Twelve-year-old Russell learns how to grow and dry corn from his Winnebago grandfather.
Call No.: S.394.1089975 H919f
Thanksgiving Day. (1997)
MacMillan, Dianne M.
Describes the history of Thanksgiving Day, how it came to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, and the traditions associated with this holiday.
Call No.: S.394.1649 M228T
Examines the traditions and celebrations associated with the holiday of Thanksgiving.
Call No.: S.394.2649 M616t
Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition. (1992).
Peters, Russell M.
Steven Peters, a twelve-year-old Wampanoag Indian in Massachusetts, learns from his grandfather how to prepare a clambake in the tradition of his people.
Call No.: S.974.482 P442C
Pilgrim Voices: Our First Year in the New World. (1995).
Using first-person sources, the experiences of the Pilgrims from their sea journey to the first Thanksgiving are re-created.*
Call No.: S.974.48202 P643
Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage. (2003).
Plimoth Plantation Inc.
Contains a photographed reenactment of the voyage and landing of the Mayflower with text covering the perspectives of both the Native Americans and the English.
Call No.: Q.S.974.4 M453
The Wigwam and the Longhouse. (2000).
Describes the history, customs, religion, government, homes, and present-day status of the various native peoples that inhabited the eastern woodlands since before the coming of the Europeans.
Call No.: S.973.04973 Y9w
A Turkey For Thanksgiving. (1991)
Mr. and Mrs. Moose try to invite a turkey to their Thanksgiving feast.
Call No.: SE.B886TU
Minnie and Moo and the Thanksgiving Tree. (2000).
All the animals in the barnyard ask the cows Minnie and Moo to hide them so that they will not become Thanksgiving dinner.
Call No.: SE. C319m
We Gather Together – Now Please Get Lost! (2001).
De Groat, Diane
Gilbert the opossum gets stuck with a tattletale “buddy” on a class trip to Pilgrim Town.
Call No.: S.D365w
Thanksgiving at the Tappleton’s. (1992).
When calamity stalks every step of the preparations for the Tappleton’s Thanksgiving dinner, they realize that there is more to Thanksgiving than turkey and trimmings.
Call No.: Q.SE.Sp46t
The Know-Nothings Talk Turkey. (2000).
Four friends celebrate Thanksgiving in their own silly way.
Call No.: SE.Sp48knt
Thanksgiving With Me. (1998).
As a young girl waits for her six uncles to arrive for Thanksgiving, she asks her mother to describe life with these brothers on past Thanksgivings.
Call No.: Q.SE.W669t
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving. (1993).
Alcott, Louisa May.
Follows the activities of seven children in nineteenth-century New England as they prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday while Mother is away caring for Grandmother.
Call No.: Q.S. AL19OL1995
The Perfect Thanksgiving. (2003).
Two families – one that is perfect and one that is far from it – celebrate Thanksgiving in their own loving ways.
Call No.: Q.SE.Sp46p
*annotation from Best Books for Children.