5 Thanksgiving Stories to Enjoy this Holiday Season

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

Thanksgiving books will be flying off the shelves shortly, which is why I’m publishing this post on the first of the month. Add these titles to your wish list so you can beat the Thanksgiving library rush!

I always appreciate personal book lists and recommendations because in today’s market the amount of choices can leave me feeling overwhelmed. Having a trusted source share ideas helps me narrow down my options and make new book discoveries.

I’ve read many Thanksgiving stories over the years to my three little people; the following five have been my favorites thus far.

1. Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl

Photo by amazon.com

This book, by author Kate Waters, contains stunning photographs actually taken at Plimoth Plantation. It describes what life may have been like for a young girl at the time, a perspective that appeals to early readers.

The little details included fascinate me–like the fact that Sarah must stand at the table for meals while her parents sit. Other books in this series include Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy and Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times.

A Favorite Passage:

“I feed the fire to heat the pottage once again, and milk the goats once more. The big brown goat is troublesome. The more I push, the more she kicks. I will have a mark to show from her tomorrow!”

2. The Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving

Photo by amazon.com

I purchased this book two years ago when I first began my hunt for a general Thanksgiving overview to read to my little ones. Written by Ann McGovern, it shares in simple, easy language that modern-day kids can understand. It’s a good pick for kids ages four and up.

A Favorite Passage:

“The Mayflower was as big as two trucks. But it was not big enough. The children had no room to run around. They had no toys. They had to leave most things behind.”

3. The Thanksgiving Story

Photo by amazon.com

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh is a Caldecott Honor Book. It contains fewer pictures and more words than some of the other choices mentioned here, making it a good fit for children five and over.

The Thanksgiving Story tells the true account of the Hopkins family who traveled on the Mayflower and the birth of their baby brother during the sail.

A Favorite Passage:

“Some of the children on the ship had names like Love, Resolved, Humility, and Remember. There seemed to be only one name for a child born on the ocean. And so the Hopkins baby was called OCEANUS.”

4. Thanksgiving Is….

Photo by amazon.com

Gail Gibbons tops the list of our family’s favorite authors for children. Many of her books provide age-level appropriate introductions to a vast array of topics in a basic but interesting style.

Thanksgiving Is… delves a bit into the history of Thanksgiving while also sharing about the traditions that make it such a popular holiday.

A Favorite Passage:

“Thanksgiving is…a Thanksgiving feast! Tables are filled with many of the same foods the Pilgrims shared with the Indians. There is turkey, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, beans, squash, cornbread, and other good things to eat.”

5. Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving

Photo by amazon.com

This book has risen the ranks and quickly become my favorite book discovery this year. Written by Laurie Halse Anderson, Thank You, Sarah shares the fascinating story of Sarah Hale, the lady who petitioned for 38 years to have Thanksgiving named as a national holiday.

Incidentally, once upon a time this same woman jotted down a quick poem when a lamb followed one of her students to school–yep, she’s the author of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

With hilarious illustrations, this is a must read!

A Favorite Passage:

“Sarah Hale was every inch a superhero. Not only did she fight for Thanksgiving, she fought for playgrounds for kids, schools for girls, and historical monuments for everyone.

She argued against spanking, pie for breakfast, dull stories, corsets and bloomers and bustles, and very serious things like slavery.”

Don’t let this Thanksgiving pass by without a quick scan of the library shelves–you may discover a new favorite as well!

Finding new books is one of my favorite things–Do you have other Thanksgiving picks to share? How about selections for older children?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. I’m going to check my library for the Alice Dalgliesh book this week – it looks great!

    We always enjoy the funny poems in Jack Prelutsky’s book, “Its Thanksgiving!”
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  2. This month we’ll be reading NC Wyeth’s Pilgrims, A Pioneer Thanksgiving (Barbara Greenwood), Magic Tree House :Thanksgiving on Thursday and the accompanying Research Guide: Pilgrims, and we’ll be working in The Giving Book (Scholastic).

    We live in Canada so our library doesn’t have many Thanksgiving stories, but the selections you made look great! 🙂

  3. We LOVE ‘Sometimes It’s Turkey, Sometimes It’s Feathers’.

  4. Jamie – Thank you so much – as always – for your great tips! I can see on my library wait list that many in my town are listening to your good referrals. : )
    Misha@ beautyandjoy’s latest post: Bulls-Eye

  5. off to check our library…..
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  6. In Thanksgiving Tales: True Stories of the Holiday in America, 48 writers from across the United States share their individual stories and memories. But, whether held in a country farmhouse, amid the frantic pace of New York City, or in a restaurant, there are a number of common elements.

    These stories reveal how seemingly simple things—like the passing of a tradition to the next generation, sitting next to Grandpa, favorite foods and recipes, or certain sounds, sights, and smells—can have special meaning and leave warm and indelible memories.

    Some of the stories describe the chaos and mishaps of meal preparation, family arguments and first-time hosts—all crises then, but now looked upon with laughter. Other stories recount family traditions, meaningful moments, memorable guests and hosts, remembering those no longer with us, being alone, or out-and-out hating the holiday. Thanksgiving Tales is a reflection of Americans, as much as it is a look at the holiday.


  7. Our favorite for this season is “The Thanksgiving Door” by Debby Atwell. An immigrant family opens their holiday celebration to a pair of elderly neighbors in need, and strangers become friends.
    Lisa’s latest post: Loving Our Enemies

  8. Thanks for this list Jamie! We finally live in a town with a great library and a free inter-library loan program – yay! I have requested these books and I am hoping they make it to our library before next Thursday 🙂

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