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Thanksgiving Books by Grade Level

Updated on December 5, 2012

Thanksgiving Books at the Library


Thanksgiving Book Recommendatons

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated, in the United States, on the fourth Thursday in November. It has officially been an annual tradition since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln said, ". . .I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

Thanksgiving has become quite special in America, becoming one of the most celebrated federal holidays. It has become a time for families, thankfulness, and American values. Few topics spur greater interest from young readers. Children often love to read about Thanksgiving, and it has been my pleasure to assemble a list of Thanksgiving-themed books that might further your family's enjoyment of this special holiday. I hope you enjoy the list.

I've rated these Thanksgiving books based on input given by hundreds of teachers, multiple reviews found throughout the Internet, my own recommendations, and comments from over 3,000 students. Additional input and book reviews are always welcomed and reviewed. Just leave a comment at the bottom of this site. I’ll review all books and determine if they meet the criteria to be placed on this list.

Arizonataylor's rating system:

!..........The book is merely okay.

!!.........This is a good book.

!!!........This is a very good book.

!!!!.......This book is great.

!!!!!......This book is amazing!

1st Grade Thanksgiving Books

Thanksgiving Books for First and Second Graders

1st Grade

Best Thanksgiving Ever! by Slater, Teddy

Score: !!!!

Happy Thanksgiving, Biscuit! by Capucilli, Alyssa Satin

Score: !!!!

Thanks for Giving by Klein, Abby

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Why We Have Thanksgiving by Hillert, Margaret

Score: !!!!

2nd Grade

Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet by Jane O’Connor

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Gus, the Pilgrim Turkey by Bateman, Teresa

Score: !!!!

Magic School Bus at the First Thanksgiving, The by Cole, Joanna

Score: !!!!

November, In by Cynthia Rylant

Score: !!!!

Thanksgiving Is... by Borden, Louise

Score: !!!

Turkey for Thanksgiving, A by Eve Bunting

Score: !!!!

Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols By Barth, Edna

Score: !!

"To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do."

– Victor Hugo

Thanksgiving Books for Third and Fourth Graders

3rd Grade

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, A by Fontes, Justine

Score: !!!!

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Jackson, Alison

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Life on the Mayflower by Gunderson, Jessica

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Pumpkin Soup by Cooper, Helen

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Night Before Thanksgiving, The by Wing, Natasha

Score: !!!

4th Grade

Claudia and the First Thanksgiving by Martin, Ann M.

Score: !!!!

If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Kamma, Anne

Score: !!!

Mayflower Treasure Hunt By Roy, Ron

Score: !!!!

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Bruchac, Joseph

Score: !!!

T is for Turkey by Kelley, Gerald

Score: !!!

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Pilkey, Dav

Score: !!!!

"There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American."

- O. Henry

Thanksgiving Books for Middle School

6th Grade

P Is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet by Crane, Carol

Score: !!!

7th Grade

Daily Life in the Pilgrim Colony 1636 by Erickson, Paul

Score: !!!

First Thanksgiving, The by Santella, Andrew

Score: !!!

8th Grade

Thanksgiving: The True Story by Colman, Penny

Score: !!

A Brief History of Thanksgiving in America

Do you remember making a pilgrim hat in school? Schoolchildren throughout America learn about the history of Thanksgiving. They learn about how it began when the Pilgrims and ninety Wampanoag Native Americans gathered together to celebrate a successful harvest. This first Thanksgiving was held sometime between September 21 and November 11, in the fall of 1621, and it was a three-day feast. That much is clear, but they didn't necessarily eat what Americans would now consider a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. They ate turkeys, swans, and deer. They also likely ate berries, fish, clams, plums, and pumpkin. The first Thanksgiving menu even included lobster, seal, and eagles! It was a diverse menu consisting of pretty much anything the pilgrims could find to eat.

While everybody knows that thanksgiving was based on this 1621 feast, most do not know the history of Thanksgiving after 1621. Thanksgiving did not immediately become an annual celebration or holiday in America. In fact, it was sporadically celebrated and declared a temporary holiday within localities that wished to celebrate certain events such as the end of a drought or a particularly fruitful harvest. Thanksgiving wasn't a universally accepted holiday, and it varied from locality to locality.

It October of 1777, all thirteen colonies began to celebrate a day of thanksgiving but not necessarily what we would now call Thanksgiving. The first national day of thanksgiving was finally held in 1789, when President George Washington proclaimed that November 26 should be "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer." He hoped to give thanks for a new nation and a new constitution. Even after George Washington had declared a national day of thanksgiving in 1789, Thanksgiving still didn’t become a national holiday.

With America torn in half during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation of thanksgiving on October 3, 1863. Lincoln declared that the last Thursday in November, which was based on Washington’s proposed date, should be a day of "thanksgiving and praise." Thanksgiving finally became a national and annual holiday. It even had a specific date.

Thanksgiving was celebrated on that date for 75 years, with succeeding presidents honoring Lincoln’s wishes. However, in 1939, economics defeated tradition, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt entertained a new idea that was proposed by retailers. Retailers were hurting, and they complained that there simply weren’t enough shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. They openly proposed a new date for Thanksgiving, one week earlier. Roosevelt agreed, and the annual celebration of Thanksgiving was moved to the second-to-last Thursday of the month. Though many opponents said that Roosevelt had overstepped his authority in doing so, the date for our annual Thanksgiving became permanent, and Americans have been celebrating on that date ever since.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Please Leave a Comment about Thanksgiving

Please feel free to leave a comment regarding anything about Thanksgiving. This site is dedicated not only to Thanksgiving books but the love of and celebration of Thanksgiving. This comment section is reserved for your Thanksgiving book recommendations, poems, songs, recipes, inspirational stories, and pretty much anything related to Thanksgiving.


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