By Denise Worthington
You would think that choosing a few favorite Thanksgiving books appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers would be easy, but I wanted to be thorough, so I went on field trips to the library, the bookstore, the used bookstore, and did online research. I polled contemporaries—meaning other grandmothers. Apparently grandmothers, or at least the ones I know, spend a lot of time in the children’s section of bookstores, and everyone had an opinion. The problem wasn’t having enough to write about, but having too many Thanksgiving books to choose from.
Even after 20 years as a reading teacher, I don’t have a magic formula for picking a good children’s book. I look for books with a nice language flow and interesting illustrations. I think rhyming books are especially appropriate for little folks because the cadence of language engages them. But the most important ingredient is you, the adult who takes the time to snuggle and share your love of reading with your child.
Six Thanksgiving Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers
There are many more books about being thankful—appropriate anytime of the year—and there are plenty of books about pilgrims, Native Americans, the first Thanksgiving, and family, but these six are my picks for toddlers and preschoolers.
- A tried and true classic, my number one choice is Over the River and Through the Woods, with the original poem by Lydia Maria Child. There are a variety of versions available, but my favorite is the musical board book, illustrated by Wendy Edelson. This is the classic poem with lovely illustrations, plus your child pushes a button and the melody is played. The book does not mention a specific holiday and would be appropriate for any winter celebration.
- I love silly books for toddlers and preschoolers, and Turkey Trouble by Wendy Silvano, illustrated by Lee Harper, fits the bill. The turkey realizes that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and he is on the menu. His attempts at disguising himself like other farm animals will have your little one laughing at his silly antics.
- 10 Fat Turkeys, by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Rich Deas, is a rhyming book that also teaches toddlers and preschoolers to count backwards from 10. Besides the value of learning to count, I love the language in the book, and your child will be able to “gobble, gobble, wibble, wabble” along with the chorus of turkeys. Repetitive phrasing goes a long way toward helping children grasp the nuances of language.
- For a nice board book for young toddlers, try Gobble, Gobble, Tucker by Leslie McGuirk that shows Tucker the dog’s adventure on Thanksgiving. Tucker visits with his dog cousins, smells delicious thanksgiving smells, and watches his family prepare for the holiday. The book has simple text, enjoyable pictures, and gives a glimpse of a family Thanksgiving.
- Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Morkes, illustrated by Doris Barrette, is a rhyming book with lovely illustrations of (what I would call) a classic Thanksgiving. It shows that we all should be thankful for the blessings coming our way. If you’re looking for a way to convey the meaning of Thanksgiving, this book does the job.
- Five Silly Turkeys, a board book by Salina Yoon is an entertaining, brightly illustrated counting book appropriate for toddlers. The book has shiny material feathers, so you have the tactile option with this book. The rhyming words are clever, and the story is fast moving.
What about you? Do you have other favorite books that you share with your children (young or older) this time of year?
Denise Worthington is Lou’s Mom. She’s a retired teacher and children’s book author who spends her time serving on local boards, entertaining at the lake, and running for political office.
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