Thanksgiving! Books For Kids 10 and Under

Books To Consider Buying

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These books would be a spiritual investment.  More than the facts of the story, they help kids see God at the center of Thanksgiving.

1.  Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration by Julie Stiegemeyer.  Published by Concordia Publishing House.  For ages 4+. 

Be forwarned, I haven’t read the entire text, but I browsed through enough to know it has uniquely crisp, descriptive writing that will draw kids in, illustrations that will teach as well as endear, and a focus on God at the center of the story. All-in-all my favorite so far.  Here is a quote from the back cover: “Life was hard for the Pilgrims.  But with help from their Native American friends, they learned how to live in the New World.  At their first harvest, they feasted to celebrate and to give thanks and praise to God.  That thanksgiving meal so long ago reminds us that we too thank God for the many blessings He gives, especially the blessing of His Son, Jesus Christ.  And that is why we give thanks on Thanksgiving Day and every day!”  Cost?  $6.79 at  Or you can get a PB version for $7.99 on Amazon.  (Keep in mind that shipping is often a little lower at Amazon, and if you click through our site, we get a small kickback.  Kindle version also available for $6.39.)

2. Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. Crossway Books, 2003.  80 pps.  Ages 8+.

I am not a scholar, so I can’t vouch for the history here.  But what I’ve read is good storytelling, enough that I think it would be an excellent book for my kids to grow into.  We couldn’t sit down and read it all through in one sitting, of course.  There is enough to spread chapters over the week prior to Thanksgiving, which will probably help it sink in.  And I think Rainey does a nice job of helping families connect the dots from the first settlers in America to our Thanksgiving rituals today.  You can own a new hardback copy from Amazon for $14.95 right now.  Or purchase the Audio CD with 30 min. of instrumental hymns included for the same price.  Apparently sells both the book and CD together for $14.99.  I’m not too big on instrumentals, but you can sample the music at

3.  An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott. Ages 8+.  I’m bending my rules a little here, since Alcott isn’t an especially insightful spiritual writer.  However, I’ve already got two good historical titles, and this one brings a little classical literary interest.  I haven’t read ANY of this story, but I suspect my girls and I would enjoy a little cozy couch time with Ms. Alcott’–even if it’s only moderately interesting, as most of her writings beyond Little Women are–during our time off.  (How bad could it be??)  And since there is a Hallmark version on DVD available from Netflix, we might even make a movie night of it when we’re done.  If we do, I’ll be sure to report back on whether it lived up to its billing.  Amazon is selling it right now for $9.97, which is nearly half-price. 

4. Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas.  Thomas Nelson.  32 pps.  Ages 4 and up.

Metaxas is a fine writer with an ear for musical writing and a nose for finding a good story.  I’ve enjoyed reading the book to my kids over the past year.  However, perhaps because he is such a good writer and leading Christian intellectual–and because he has projected a Native American voice here, I do hold him to a higher standard.  As such, I was a bit disappointed in how he dealt with the story’s historicity.  Not one footnote can be found in the entire book, yet we are given the most intimate details of Squanto’s spiritual journey.  How can we know that his account is true and not just a good story?  Especially considering the plethora of books out there in my library that present Squanto in a very different light….  This doesn’t prevent me from recommending the book; but I do hope very much that in the years to come, Christian publishers would strive to meet or even surpass the same standards for historical documentation that secular publishers do.   You can purchase this book on Amazon for $9.99 or Kindle for $7.99.

5. Thanksgiving Graces by Mark Kimball Moulton.  Candy Cane Press, 2011.  26 pps.  Ages 2-6.

If you prefer warm and fuzzy instead of a history lesson, and/or you’re looking for something for toddlers or preschoolers, this might be the ticket.  It’s pretty light on theology, but unlike other similarly simple books, it does mention Jesus and thankfulness to God.  Get it for $10.19 on Amazon.

6. Never Before in History: America’s Inspired Birth by Gary Amos and Richard Gardiner.  Ages 15+. This isn’t a kids’ book, so don’t mistake it for one.  But if you’re looking for a book that will help you put Thanksgiving into a religious and political context, look no further.  This will give you an overview of America’s Christian heritage and show how religious ideas shaped our country which you can use throughout your child’s education.  A perfect textbook for teenagers, too.  The $35 you’ll pay on Amazon is a drop in the bucket compared to the wisdom you and your child will gain from this book.

Books to Loan from Your Library

These are books that are better than average but can usually be found in your local library or even a used bookstore. (By they way, did you know that often Goodwill stores have really great books?  And since buying there helps support struggling workers, it’s a great place to shop for the holidays or anytime.)

1. The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh.  Atheneum, 1988. 32 pps.  Ages 2-8. (Originally pubbed 1954.)

The Thanksgiving story told in simple language with endearing illustrations.  This one doesn’t leave out God, but neither does He come across as especially personal or immanent.  Still, for a library book, it’s a good overall treatment.

2. . . . If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern.  Scholastic Paperback, 1991.  80 pps.  Ages 5-up.

Another engaging look at the Pilgrims, which includes question and answer format: What kind of ship was the Mayflower? How did the Pilgrims feel when they saw land? What was the first building in Plymouth?  Like Dalgliesh’s book, it’s not hostile to faith–nor especially warm to it.  But it’s a book from which your kids can definitely benefit.

3. 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace. National Geographic Children’s Books. 2004.  Ages 8-up.

In some ways this is an ant-recommendation.  Still, your kids will eventually come across the perspective in this book.  I say it’s better to get them acquainted with it now.  The pictures are crisp and evocative–just what you’d expect from a National Geographic treatment–taken at a recent reenactment of the first Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately, the text reflects a very biased view of Thanksgiving.  It purports to be the Wampanoag side of the story, deflating the American mythology built around it and instead giving us the real story.  In reality, the mythology it substitutes is just as biased or perhaps more so than most Thanksgiving books.  In this myth, the Wampanoags had no vices while the English settlers stole land, pinched food, and believed God told them to do it.  You’ll be told why traditional paintings of the first Thanksgiving are inane and really, why everything you know about Thanksgiving is a myth.  I wouldn’t bother reading the entire text to your kids.  But flip through and enjoy the pictures, read bits and pieces, and ask your kids to critique the point of view.  Ask them questions….who are the heroes in this book?  Do you think they are portrayed accurately?  How could the author have been more fair?  I wish that I could offer you a solid book on the subject of Native Americans to weigh against this one, but I just don’t know of one.  (Do you?)

We have lots more fun stuff planned for Thanksgiving–check back on Wednesday for a unique book (including Puritan prayers and your favorite recipes) you can make with your kids.  And in the meantime, check out some of other posts on American history and holidays: 4th of July Roundup, Columbus and the Founding of Our Nation, and Labor Day: Books to Get Your Kids Working.  

Download a free annotated list of our favorite Thanksgiving books here!



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  1. Simonetta Carr on November 14, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Thank you (once again) for your very well-balanced views. Someone should probably write an objective book for kids on Thanksgiving – one that takes into consideration the Native American view without going from an extreme to another.
    My book on John Owen might be useful to help children to see why the Pilgrims left England.

  2. Betsy on November 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Thanks for this list! I’m always looking for good Thanksgiving books.

    Another library checkout for young children is Karma Wilson’s Give Thanks to the Lord: A Celebration of Psalm 92. Illustrations are a little warm and fuzzy and very “typical Thanksgiving” but the text is nice and it makes a good read for young children on thankfulness.

  3. emily on November 15, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Thanks, Betsy. I looked up Karma and she seems to be an interesting writer. Thanks again for the heads up!

    Simonetta, Wouldn’t you like to write that book for us?? Thanks for suggesting John Owen. Very good tie in.

  4. Simonetta Carr on November 15, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Haha, Emily, I can think about it…

  5. Alane on November 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    A Thanksgiving book my toddlers enjoy is This is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore, ill by Megan Lloyd. The vibrant, detailed illustrations match colorful rhyming text. The text is simple, but the illustrations give this overview depth. The book’s refrain is “Thanks be to God, our strength and our guide…Thanks be to God, who doth us provide.”

  6. emily on November 18, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Alane, Thanks so much for the suggestion. I will definitely check it out!

  7. Tonya Roth on November 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    My family really enjoys Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. I also enjoy the CD that accompanied the book.

  8. Rebekah on November 20, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    We attempted to access the thanksgiving book and the link did not work. Is that possible to be fixed.

    • Betsy Farquhar on November 21, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Rebekah, we’re working on this. We’ve had some trouble with our old pdf links in the tech chaos this year, and I’m trying to track down the original of this file in cyber space!

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