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I love to read books that relate to the season we are in. We have our favorites that we read over and over and I try to find a few new ones to add periodically so things don’t get too repetitive. With Thanksgiving coming up quickly and fall approaching (we’re in Texas so it’s still in the upper 80’s) we’ve been pulling out our fall books. These are a few of our favorite children’s Thanksgiving books along with some activity suggestions and printables to go with them. Enjoy!

1. Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long
Ages 3-7

This beautifully illustrated book is set on a farm. Otis the tractor notices that the farmer has added a new member to the farm, a scarecrow. During his activities over the course of several months Otis watches as the scarecrow just stands there, alone and looking quite unhappy. Finally, during a cold rain, Otis decides that it’s time to show the Scarecrow what a friend is like as he and his gang of farm animals sit with him through the rain.

While this book isn’t explicitly Thanksgiving themed, I love the message of being a friend to everyone, even if they don’t seem to want it. It’s a great lesson for kids and parents alike.

Fun activities to pair with this book:
– Try a game of Ring Around the Rosie or The Quiet Game.
– Discussion questions: Why do you think that the scarecrow looked so angry and never spoke to Otis or the animals?
What would you do if there was someone who never seemed to have friends? Would you ignore them like everyone else or use your courage and go talk to them?
– Build a small scarecrow and put it in a potted plant. Click on the pic below to download a template that you can print, color, cutout, laminate and attach to a straw or small stick.
thanksgiving coloring sheets

2. Thanksgiving Is Here! By Diane Goode
Ages 4-8

This cute books tells about the coming together of family for Thanksgiving with underlying themes of kindness, helping and working together. I especially love how everyone helps in the cleaning efforts! It’s a quick, light read perfect for the younger crowd.

Both of my boys enjoyed this easy to read book and said that they’d love to hear it again.

Fun activities to go along with this book:
– Discussion questions:
Talk about your family’s Thanksgiving traditions.
Talk about the importance of helping where we can.
– Download the Thanksgiving Meal Planner and let your child help fill out Thanksgiving invitations or pick out a side dish or dessert for the big day.

3. How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin by Margaret McNamara and G. Brian Karas
Ages 3-7

This book makes math a lot of fun! Math concepts such as skip counting, odd and even numbers and putting things in order from biggest to smallest are seamlessly integrated into the story.

The illustrations are a lot of fun and the story reminds us that bigger isn’t always better. The children in this story are also a diverse group, which I love to find in my kid’s books.

Fun activities to go along with this book:
– Buy a small pumpkin and count the seeds. Don’t waste that pumpkin though, try roasting the seeds or making a pumpkin pie!
– Try my free skip counting fun pack. It has a fall theme and works on skip counting 2’s, 5’s and 10’s just like the book! Click on the picture below to download.
thanksgiving math worksheets

4. 10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
Ages 3-5 years

My 5 year old really enjoyed this book. He says it’s silly and cool and immediately wanted to read it again. The second time through all three kids were counting down along with me as we read.

The illustrations in this book are vibrant and a lot of fun. It also offers some repetitive words (Gobble Gobble Wibble Wobble) which is not only fun to say but is always a hit with the younger kids.

Fun activities to go along with this book:
– Practice counting to 10 and then back down to 0
– Let the kids give each Turkey a name and decide what that turkey’s day job is.
– Ask your kids to ‘do a noodle dance’ and see what they come up with!

5. Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac
Ages 5-10 (higher than what is recommended but what I feel is appropriate)

It seems like everyone knows the story about the pilgrims yet we never talk about the Native American’s. This book does an excellent job of showing the hardships that befell the Native Americans once the New World was found. It’s not always a happy story, but it’s definitely one worth telling to your kids.

The illustrations as well as the story offer authentic details. Each page is more beautiful than the last with full-page gouache illustrations in fall tones.

This books makes mention of Squanto thanking the Creator of all Things, so if you are uncomfortable with such things, this is not the book for you.

Fun activities to go along with this book:
– Use a map of the to find the locations they discuss in the book.
– Compare the Native American’s story with that of the Pilgrims. What hardships did each group face?
– Let your child practice their handwriting with these illustrated copy work pages.
free thanksgiving worksheets

6. Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
Ages 7-10

This books is an excellent sobering look at what the Pilgrims went through both on their journey and once they reached the new world. It doesn’t sugar coat their experiences but it doesn’t dwell on the bad either.

The story revolves around the Allerton family, a mother, father and their 3 children. The mother and baby die as well as many other pilgrims. They face the realities of leaving their home for a new land without knowing exactly what the ‘New World’ holds. Their struggles include sweeping illness, death, a struggle to grow food and more. In the end the book teaches a lesson of figuring out how to be happy and thankful after so much sadness and struggle.

This book offers pretty illustrations including a map with pertinent locations marked, a diagram of the Mayflower, a map of Plymouth that matches the story, a timeline and more.

Since this is a book about Thanksgiving it also talks about religion as the reason for coming to the New World. They talk about praying and make reference to ‘the Maker’.

Fun activities to go with this book:
-Discussion questions: Discuss the struggles the Pilgrims went through once they got to America.
Discuss how important it was that the Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to farm the land.
Discuss how even the children had jobs to do in Plymouth. Find a job or two for each child to help prepare for Thanksgiving.
Discuss the importance of finding happiness in a time of hardship.
-Make a berry tart.
– Make a paper pilgrim bonnet or pilgrim hat

7. Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes
Ages 5+

This book is beautifully written. Each poem offers a humbling experience and is a great jumping off point to talk about all the thing that we take for granted including having a home to live in and a relationship with a parent.

Every single page features rich illustrations with a diverse cast of subjects. While it offers some heavy topics it also lighten things up with poems such as “The Good Neighbor”

I encourage you to read through the poems before reading them to your child. Be prepared to talk about each one as a way to encourage humbleness and gratitude.

3 of the poems in this book make reference to God or religion. If you are against such mentioning either skip the poems or the book altogether.

Fun activities to go along with this book:
– Take a look at my DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar. Read a poem each night at dinner and as a family discuss one thing you are grateful for.
– Discuss each poem and how they made you and your child feel.
– Make a thankful turkey. Download the template by clicking on the picture below.

thanksgiving coloring sheets

thanksgiving coloring sheets
8. Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano
Ages 3-7

Let’s end the list on a light, fun note! This book is all about a turkey who is trying to avoid being cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. He dresses up like many of the farm animals to escape the farmer and in the end finds a way to appease the farmers appetite without offering himself as dinner.

The illustrations are a bright and the turkey’s costumes are especially fun for kids. My 8 year old promptly told me that we would be reading this book again with a big smile on his face.

Fun activities to go along with this book:
– Discussion questions: What other disguise could the turkey have tried?
What was your favorite disguise.
Do you think the farmer was really fooled by any of turkey’s disguises? Why or why not?
– Have a pizza while you read the book.
– Use the blank turkey template and create a disguise for your turkey.
thanksgiving coloring sheets

I hope you found this list of books and related activities useful. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. If you have other favorite Thanksgiving books be sure to leave the name in the comments below, I’m always looking for more books to add to our library.

Love, Cassie







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