We love Thanksgiving, but we’ll admit it can get the short end of the stick, sandwiched between the Halloween sugar-fest and the merry-and-bright excitement of the holidays. While one of the nice things about Thanksgiving is that it’s about family, not gifts, we still love the idea of putting a few great Thanksgiving books for kids into our storytime rotation.

Or hey, set them at the kids’ table, at least long enough to keep them entertained until homemade pie is served.


Thanksgiving books for kids | Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving

Combining the traditionally told story of Thanksgiving with the adorably cool Pete the Cat character is a great way to get small kids to enjoy a bedtime mini-history lesson. Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving by Kimberly Dean will have your kids lifting flaps to see what is peeking out from under James Dean’s clever illustrations, telling a story that goes back to those first Pilgrims.

While not as sing-songy as the original Pete the Cat book that we fell in love with, this Thanksgiving-flavored story still oozes Pete’s calm, cool “we’re all good” demeanor, making it a good read at bedtime when the last thing you need is something that’ll get the kids bouncing all over the place.


Thanksgiving books for kids: Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet


Learn about being a puppeteer at the Macy's Parade! : Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet | Thanksgiving books for kids

If it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without first tuning into (or bundling up for) the Macy’s Day Parade, you’ll love Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s ParadeWe are charmed by the illustrations and story by Melissa Sweet, whom you may already know from her brilliant Little Red Writing book.

I love that her story focuses on Tony Sarg, the puppeteer whose dream of “upside-down puppets” became a reality in the late 1920s, and whose name should be at least as popular as the parade balloons. Sweet mixes colorful illustrations, sidebar diagrams, archival photographs, and newspaper clippings to weave a tale that will interest all ages, including adults who may not know the parade’s backstory. And if your kids are clamoring for more to keep them busy until the big day, grab this free downloadable activity kit based on the book.

(And psst–we found a cool sneak peek at this year’s newest Thanksgiving parade floats, should your kids want to see what’s coming up this week.)


Thanksgiving books for kids: The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz

If your kids have a soft spot for the underdog, they’ll love The Ugly Pumpkin, which is a very funny twist on the classic Ugly Duckling story. Left behind at Halloween, the Ugly Pumpkin thinks he is doomed to a lonely life until Thanksgiving arrives and he realizes that you know, maybe things aren’t quite so dire after all.

Written by Dave Horowitz for kids about three to five, The Ugly Pumpkin is a great read-aloud book, especially for the big a-ha! moment that your kids will likely learn to yell with you after the first reading. And we’re all relieved that the “ugly pumpkin” doesn’t end up a jack-o-lantern after all.

Don’t miss these Thanksgiving books for kids! You’ll find Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving by Kimberly and James Dean, Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet, and The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz at our affiliate Amazon or your local independent bookseller.