7 Best Thanksgiving Picture Books for Family Read Alouds

reading aloud Thanksgiving books with your family

Don’t miss Thanksgiving Day in your excitement for Christmas. Here are some great Thanksgiving picture books for the whole family to enjoy from Nina Simone!

Halloween is over, and candy has been hidden in between various couch cushions for late-night snacking. Great! You have exactly 4 hours before Santa Claus arrives! Wait, isn’t there a turkey and some pilgrims somewhere in between? Reading Thanksgiving picture books aloud together builds excitement for a holiday that celebrates belonging (and cranberry sauce.)

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Best Thanksgiving Picture Books for Family Read Alouds

Reading aloud together creates a connection for families and favorite picture books can easily become seasonal traditions. These best Thanksgiving picture books for family read alouds give us pictures and stories for a season centered on being thankful and being together.

Thanksgiving Is Here (Goode, Harper Collins Publishers, 2003)

This book illustrates the crowds, chaos, and love seen through a child’s eyes on Thanksgiving Day. As the relatives work together to assemble the feast venue with various chairs and mismatched tables, an illustration of belonging emerges. “MORE uncles and aunts, cousins and friends….” the young narrator exclaims, then truthfully observes, “At Grandma’s house the chairs don’t match…but we don’t mind. We all have a place at the table.” Children will enjoy examining each page of pictures for messy, real-life pictured, and adults can be reassured that no child is formed by perfect holiday china and flawless pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving Day at Our House (Carlstrom and Alley, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1999)

This Thanksgiving picture book is a must for family read alouds! This picture book is perfect for preschool and early-elementary children in both its rhymes and illustration. No Thanksgiving Day element goes unnamed as children watch the holiday week unfurl, reach its epic Thanksgiving dinner moment and then close in messy bedrooms with parents saying goodnight.

The collection of poems begins with the day before Thanksgiving. Then it leads us through the story of the Pilgrims at the First Thanksgiving with a Thanksgiving Pageant. Poems describe getting ready at home, a grass-roots Thanksgiving Day parade, a game of Thanksgiving charades, various prayers of gratitude, and of course, the big meal of turkey and stuffing. My favorite is Thanksgiving poem is “The Quiet Moment,” when everyone is full and happy and tired, enjoying each other’s presence after a Thanksgiving Day well done.

Balloons Over Broadway (Sweet, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011)

Have you ever wondered about those crazy balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day ParadeBalloons over Broadway gives a history of both the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the work of Marionette artist Tony Sarg. This Thanksgiving picture book has made my family love those massive balloon creations even more as if that were possible. This is a fantastic read-aloud for all ages and a great Thanksgiving picture book to have around the house for children to pour over the illustrations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’ (Eileen Spinelli and Lloyd, HarperCollins Publishers, 2003)

Our family loves reading about the Tappleton’s doomed Thanksgiving meal. Each family member contributes to prepping the Thanksgiving Day feast, from turkey to mashed potatoes to picking up pies. Adults will be familiar with the high amounts of pressure put on this one Thanksgiving meal. Children recognize the stress they can sense from the adults as they prepare for Thanksgiving!

During family read alouds of this Thanksgiving picture book, all ages will resonate with the feelings of failure. The turkey rolls out the door and into the lake! There’s the temptation to hide the fact that the pumpkin pie boxes are empty. And when everyone finally enjoys sandwiches around the table, there’s the realization that you don’t need particular foods to celebrate being together on Thanksgiving Day.

Turkey Pox (Anderson and Donohue, Albert Whitman & Company, 1996)

Hands down, our family favorite, Turkey Pox, is the story of a young girl discovering she has chickenpox on Thanksgiving Day, during a snowstorm. She is comforted by a grandmother who saves Thanksgiving Day and the turkey with just the right use of cranberries. This heartwarming Thanksgiving picture book gives families easy-to-remember characters and fun dialogue while addressing the disappointment when once-a-year-favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions must be re-imagined.

Over the River and Through the Wood (Child and Catrow, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1996)

Lydia Maria Child’s song has given us images of an Old Fashioned Thanksgiving for over a century.  And now with new illustrations by David Catrow, this Thanksgiving Picture book provides a more chaotic view of how this Turkey day can feel.

Follow this zany family’s journey to the grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving. Watch the baby fly out of the car and through the city, colliding with the Thanksgiving parade and making friends with gorillas. The traditional Thanksgiving song and rhyme remains the same in this Thanksgiving Picture book, allowing families to sing along as they enjoy wacky pictures showing how crazy holidays can feel.

Fat Chance Thanksgiving (Lakin and Schuett, Albert Whitman & Company, 2001)

Most Thanksgiving picture books celebrate warm homes and families intact. But this is not the experience for many. Fat Chance Thanksgiving tells the story of a young girl who has experienced homelessness due to a fire. She is longing for a Thanksgiving experience like the First Thanksgiving she reads about in her favorite book about the Pilgrims.

As she brings her new neighbors together for the holiday, the pot luck they enjoy does not include Old Fashioned Thanksgiving foods. Instead, this Thanksgiving picture book reminds us of the beautiful offerings people share when enjoying being together.

Thanksgiving Books for the Whole Family

Reading together can help mark each season. Thanksgiving celebrates belonging and gratitude. This year enjoy reading Thanksgiving picture books aloud to get ready for Thanksgiving and its favorite traditions together.

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