Favorite Thanksgiving Books for Children

Happy Monday, y’all! Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and Anna Marie is sharing her favorite Thanksgiving books. There’s enough time for you to find a copy (either purchasing or maybe your local library has them!) to read with your kids or grandkids or nieces and nephews.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on God’s blessings and focus on thankfulness. It’s also an incredible opportunity to talk with our children about the founding of our nation by a group of Christians who were determined to follow God as they saw laid out in Scripture. They were unwilling to compromise or subject their children to the influence of an ungodly culture. They were willing to endure hardship for the sake of Christ and sang praises to the Lord in the midst of situations I myself could hardly imagine. There are many examples of God’s hand in bringing them to America and providing Squanto to help them learn survival in the wilderness where they settled. We want to be recounting these stories to our children in the same spirit as Psalm 78:2-4:

“I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.”

I love reading books to the children about Thanksgiving as it approaches but have had a really hard time finding those that give glory to the Lord or talk about the true reason for the Pilgrims coming. So far I’ve come across two that I really like and wanted to share with you.

This is the Feast

This is the Feast (Amazon links in this post are Titus2’s Amazon’s Affiliate link, and Titus2 earns from qualifying purchases, see the Privacy Policy), by Diane Z. Shore, has beautifully crafted, rhythmic flow to the poetic wording that describes the journey and settling of the Pilgrims. I feel like she very tactfully handles the realities of life on the Mayflower and the illnesses that took the lives of many through that first winter in Plymouth, not glossing over them but not being too graphic for young readers. Interspersed through the story are small doxologies of praise to the Lord, such as, “Thanks be to God, our Help and our Guide!” The illustrations are absolutely stunning, with vivid detail and color. I also like how basic identification of some of the trees and plants are woven in. All in all, I would say this is my favorite Thanksgiving book ever.

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving (Titus2’s Amazon’s Affiliate link, see the Privacy Policy), by Eric Metaxas, is an amazing story of how God uses trials for His own purposes and glory! It follows the life of Squanto being kidnapped from his Patuxet village and sold as a slave upon arrival in Spain, purchased by monks who taught him about God, then sent him to England where he learned English before finally returning to his village ten years after his kidnapping—only to find that a plague had taken the lives of every Patuxet. He sorrowfully wondered why God would have allowed this when shortly after, the Pilgrims arrived and settled in Patuxet. Knowing their language and knowing the land, he was able to help them learn the best ways to hunt and cultivate. I don’t know how much of the story has been “enhanced,” but regardless, it is a good reminder that we don’t know what God might use trials in our lives for, and we can trust that He does indeed work all things together for good!

Another thing we learned about the pilgrims is that they loved to sing the Psalms, often versified. I’ve been enjoying singing some with the children such as Psalm 23 (see this Hymnary link) and Psalm 100 (Hymnary link). We also have been singing the verbatim Psalm 119 that we have been learning together. Singing Scripture back to God in worship is powerful!

Over the River and Through the Wood

Since I’m talking about Thanksgiving books, I’m also including Over the River and Through the Wood (Titus2’s Amazon’s Affiliate link, see the Privacy Policy), by Lydia Marie Child and illustrated by Matt Tavares. It has nothing to do with the Pilgrims but is a beautifully illustrated story based on the Thanksgiving-themed poem. Our children love following the family in their horse and sleigh over the frozen river and through snow-drifted woods to their grandparents’ house, and it is a perfect book to cuddle up and read on a cold day!

May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving season.

Because the LORD our God is good,
His mercy is forever sure.
His truth at all times firmly stood
And shall from age to age endure.

~Anna Marie

Gigi reading to the children

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and
the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5:20

14 thoughts on “Favorite Thanksgiving Books for Children”

  1. I agree! Both of these books are very good. May I recommend a few more?

    Thanksgiving : A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey (Crossway, 2002) is a beautiful, thorough telling of the pilgrim story that can be used with many ages, even to adult. She has designed it in two font sizes such that if one just reads the larger font it is a shorter version perfect for young children or those with shorter attention spans, while the added smaller font text fills in with greater detail. She interjects many references to God’s providence and how the lessons we learn from the pilgrims can be applied to our own lives. The book also has ideas for making Thanksgiving meaningful and memorable, and includes a CD of instrumental Thanksgiving hymns perfect for background during feasting. There is a wonderfully-done audio book of this available as well, tastefully and effectively dramatized. We play this all month long at our house, and read the story as a family throughout the day on Thanksgiving Day.
    Charlene Notgrass has a very good unity study called Celebrate Thanksgiving (Notgrass Company, 2011) that can be used for school or as special activities throughout the month. We have used it this latter way over several years.
    Meet the Pilgrim Fathers by Elizabeth Paine and illustrated by H. B. Vestal (Random House, 1966) is written for young readers, clearly detailing the pilgrims’ faith, and is good as a first chapter book.
    The Plymouth Thanksgiving by Leonard Weisgard (Doubleday, 1967) has wonderful detail and illustrations, tracing God’s hand and the pilgrims’ faith.
    Over the River and Through the Wood by Lydia Maria Child and illustrated by Brinton Turkle (Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1974) is incredibly beautiful. It traces the journey of the young family in color, while alternating with sepia-toned glimpses into the preparations at Grandfather’s.
    Some of these older ones can probably only be found used, but to us that adds to the sense of history that is being celebrated. Thank you for this post! Reading and telling the stories of believers who came before us is the best way to make these people, and their faith, real to our children.

  2. We have “This Is The Feast” and read it every year! Thank you for the other recommendations.

  3. Always looking for recommendations for good books! Just ordered them from the library. Thank you, Anna Marie!

  4. Thank you so much for encouraging so many families! Our family has enjoyed a Family Life Today book by Barbara Rainey titled “Thanksgiving, A Time To Remember”. It also comes with an instrumental hymns cd that provides music appropriate and worshipful for Thanksgiving.

  5. Molly’s Pilgrim, is a book that my little sisters like, it’s about a little girl whose family came to America for freedom, her class is asked to make little pilgrims, she asks her mother for help and her mother makes a “doll” that resembles herself as a child explaining to her that she to is a pilgrim.

  6. Anna, thank you for the This is the Feast book recommendation. I am a preschool teacher at a church-run program, and I am always on the hunt for quality books to read to my young students. I ordered the book, and it just arrived today. The book is visually beautiful, and I am excited to share it with my students.

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