15 Books to Help Teach Children About Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is less than a week away and amid all the hustle and bustle it’s easy to forget that the holiday has a much deeper meaning than feasting on turkey and pumpkin pie. The holiday presents an ideal time to strike up a conversation with your children about the importance of expressing gratitude for life’s blessings.


There are several excellent children’s books available that celebrate the spirit of the holiday, teach about it from a historical perspective or just add an extra level of fun to the festivities. Officials at StudyDog, an online reading program geared toward elementary students, recommended the following books for Thanksgiving reading:

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, illustrated by Doris Barrette – A beautifully illustrated story that introduces children to the importance of gratitude and giving thanks. Children learn about the importance of being thankful for the small and big things in life. The last page of the book includes space for children to write down what they are thankful for, making it an ideal book to pull out each year and reflect on what you were thankful for in the past and at the present time.

One is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale by Judy Cox, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler – A mouse becomes overly greedy as he builds up a collection of Thanksgiving leftovers. Suddenly a cat swoops in and takes everything, leaving just a single pea for the mouse to eat. But the pea is all the mouse needs to enjoy a simple meal, teaching the importance of being thankful for the small and simple things in life.

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland, illustrated by Sonja Lamut – This book is a celebration of how Thanksgiving brings together family and friends. The book is very engaging and goes beyond merely listing things to be thankful for, but explains why you should be thankful for them.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr – Starting with the statement, “Every day I try to think about the things I am thankful for,” this new book is a day-to-day celebration of what to be thankful for year-round. The author uses bright and simple illustrations to show expressions of thanks for friends, pets, libraries and music.

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Jeff Shelly – There are several fun rhyming stories with a Thanksgiving theme available. In “A Plump and Perky Turkey,” a turkey named Pete gets creative to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner. The book has an added layer of entertainment with a companion website that includes interactive games and activities to keep children busy after you finish reading.

A few other rhythmic-style Thanksgiving children’s books worth checking out include:

If You Sailed on the Mayflower by Ann McGovern, illustrated by J.B. Handelsman – Children learn about what life was like for Plymouth settlers using a question-and-answer format and humorous illustrations.

Other children’s books that explore different historical aspects of Thanksgiving include: