These Thanksgiving and gratitude living books have been favorites around our house for years.
Some help explain the history of our Thanksgiving celebration, while others are just sweet stories with a Thanksgiving theme. And, yet others really have nothing to do with Thanksgiving, in particular, but focus on a spirit of gratitude that’s such an important character trait for our children to possess.
At your local library, you’ll likely find at least a shelf or two full of Thanksgiving-themed books. Sadly, many of them aren’t worth your time because they’re twaddle.
What’s twaddle? The dictionary defines twaddle as “trivial or foolish speech or writing; nonsense.” I like to describe it as fluff that rarely has a full plot, rich language, or vivid characters.
Some children may enjoy twaddle – and in small amounts, there really is nothing wrong with it. However, books that are the opposite of twaddle have so much more potential to interest, intrigue, and gently instruct readers of all ages.
What is the opposite of twaddle? Living literature! These books have the ability to hold the attention of everyone in the room with interesting characters that take you right down the path of wherever the setting happens to be so that you almost feel as if you’re right there in the story. Yeah, they’re that good.
Many people think of chapter books when they think of living literature, but there are lots and lots of living picture books, too! They might not pack quite as much depth into their shorter text, but they certainly can be rich.
Additionally, living books can be fiction or nonfiction. Yes, even factual books have to potential to be considered “living” if they do more than just state the facts in a textbook-like fashion.
With the Thanksgiving season approaching, I thought I’d help you figure out which books on the library shelf are surefire living books. You’ll find a nice mix of fiction and nonfiction in this list.
This post contains affiliate links.
The Best Thanksgiving Living Books
Since Thanksgiving was originally celebrated as a friendly dinner between Native Americans and pilgrims, we like to read books about both in our home. Not all of the books in these categories are necessarily Thanksgiving-related, but they fit with the general November theme.
Native American Picture Books
And Still the Turtle Watched by Sheila MacGill-Callahan
Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
The Rough-Faced Girl by Rafe Martin
The Story of Jumping Mouse by John Steptoe
Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back by Joseph Bruchac and Jonathan London
If you’re considering a Native American unit study, you’ll want to check out the literature-based, project-based learning ideas I pulled together from our unit study!
Pilgrim Picture Books
A few of the books on this little lean slightly toward twaddle, but I included them anyway because they offer a good picture of the life of a pilgrim.
If You Sailed on the Mayflower by Ann McGovern
If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma
N.C. Wyeth’s Pilgrims by Robert San Souci
On the Mayflower by Kate Waters
P is for Pilgrim by Carol Crane
Sarah Morton’s Day by Kate Waters
The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George
The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern
The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
Who’s that Stepping on Plymouth Rock? by Jean Fritz
You Wouldn’t Want to Sail on the Mayflower by Peter Cook
General Thanksgiving Picture Books
We also love to read books with a general Thanksgiving theme. These are all treasures!
A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende Devlin
Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving by Katherine Paterson
It’s Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky
Over the River and Through the Wood by Lydia Maria Chid
Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday by Mike Allegra
Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller
Thank you, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll
The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons
Gratitude Picture Books
Thankfulness and gratitude are important character traits for our children any time of the year. These sweet books will help you gently teach those qualities easily.
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
Elmore by Holly Hobbie
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
Those Shoes by Noah Z. Jones
I hope you enjoy lots of book goodness with your children this November!