Thanksgiving Picture Books

Sharing the Bread: an Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story – by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jill McElmurry

sharing the bread

This beautifully illustrated book follows a 19th-century family as they prepare the Thanksgiving meal. Each family member has a job to do, from Grandpa (“Grandpa, cook the berries, please”) down to Baby (“Baby, be a sleeping mouse.”) The text has a sing-song lilt to it, and works well for reading aloud.  While most Thanksgiving themed books focus on the history surrounding the first Thanksgiving, this book could serve as a starting point for a discussion of other aspects of American history, particularly a discussion of how we have prepared our food differently over the years.

Pilgrim Cat – by Carol Antoinette Peacock

pilgrim cat

Pounce the cat hops aboard the Mayflower as it sails from England. During the long months crossing the Atlantic, she forms a close friendship with a Pilgrim girl named Faith. Once they land at Plymouth, Pounce stays by Faith’s side during the long initial months of struggling to survive, as well as during the happier days after the Pilgrims are befriended by Samoset and Squanto. This book is a lovely introduction to the story of the Plymouth colony and the first Thanksgiving through the eyes of a young girl and her cat.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman who Saved Thanksgiving – by Laurie Halse Anderson

thank you sarah

This is the story of Sarah Hale, the woman who petitioned and wrote letters to presidents in her efforts to make Thanksgiving into a national holiday. Sarah’s courage and bravery shine through as she fights for various social causes, including education for women and the abolition of slavery. The book’s style is conversational and humorous: “Now, I know what you’re thinking. She doesn’t look like a superhero. She looks like a dainty little lady. Never underestimate dainty little ladies.” This lovely book is more than just a Thanksgiving book — it uses the history of Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday in the US to springboard into a tale of boldness, bravery, and social change.

In November – by Cynthia Rylant

in november

This lovely book explores the uniqueness of the month of November, from seasonal changes like bird migrations and fallen leaves to holiday festivities like Thanksgiving and drinking cider. It’s a very atmospheric book, with gentle illustrations that give a real sense of the feeling of November — the outside coldness and the cozy warmth of home.

Thanksgiving with Me – by Margaret Willey

thanksgiving with me

Do you remember the seemingly interminable time of waiting as a child, when you were expecting relatives to arrive for Thanksgiving dinner? That is the space of this story — a little girl asking her mother, “When are my uncles coming? When?” Her mother proceeds to tell her stories about the past — about growing up with six older brothers, in a home by the sea. This is a great book to read during those times of anticipation, when children are wondering when everyone will arrive and what the festivities will be like — maybe it can even inspire them to ask questions about their own relatives’ childhoods.

5 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Picture Books

  1. Amy // Sunlit Pages

    We read Sharing the Bread last week and found it very charming. I’ve seen a lot of recommendations this month for Thank You, Sarah, but I haven’t seen anyone mention Sarah Gives Thanks, which is another picture book about Sarah Hale. It’s a good one, too. We haven’t read Pilgrim Cat or Thanksgiving With Me, so I’m looking forward to checking those out! Happy Thanksgiving!

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