I spent a lot of time this year enhancing my lessons for Thanksgiving, including adding new read aloud texts for my whole group instruction. There are so many amazing books out there! I have created a fantastic list of multicultural Thanksgiving books that you can use to learn and teach about the holiday from many different perspectives.
Books about Native Americans at Thanksgiving
When I grew up, every school year around Thanksgiving we talked about Pilgrims and Indians. We made paper Pilgrim and Indian hats, and we colored cornucopias. We read passages about a great feast. That was normal for the time period in which I grew up. However, that type of lesson doesn’t have a place within the classroom anymore; that is not the truth behind the first Thanksgiving. These two books created great conversation and shared a lot of easy-to-digest facts for all students grades K-5.
I love the book The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose. This was the perfect way for me to introduce the topic of Native Americans in kindergarten. Each page details an area of America where particular tribes lived. It includes how they lived, what they hunted or caught for food, and some facts about the way that they loved. We pulled up a map on the SMART board, and as we read we marked the different locations on the map for each tribe. Then we discussed what those places looked like hundreds of years ago versus what they look like today.
Another great read is Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp. It is a children’s book based on the Thanksgiving Address of the Iroquois Nation. It is an easy read, and the things that the native people thank Mother Earth for really bring perspective into the classroom. Some kids are shocked that there is no thanks for iPads, phones, TV, or Chuck E. Cheese! It really helps create deeper discussions about things we take for granted. Yes, even with kindergarteners!
Other Thanksgiving Perspectives
Besides discussing Native Americans and the First Thanksgiving, I love learning and teaching about multicultural Thanksgiving traditions of the present! Although many families still have the traditional turkey and feast, many others do not and have different traditions. Thanksgiving has evolved to include many different types of food and ways to celebrate.
Also published under the title Duck for Turkey Day, the story No Turkey for Thanksgiving by Jacqueline Jules is a must-read. Tuyet, a Vietnamese girl, thinks that having turkey on Thanksgiving is a rule. She feels guilty throughout her whole Thanksgiving break about eating duck instead of turkey. When she returns to school, she feels guilty and tells her teacher she did not eat turkey. Tuyet then finds out that many other students did not have turkey, either! It’s a great way to open conversation about favorite dishes, family meals, and spending time with loved ones.
The final book, Thanks: Learning to Appreciate. Gratitude for Children by Luciana Reis is a bilingual book, and my Spanish-speaking students LOVED when I read it in both languages! With amazing photographs, this book lists things the author is thankful for with a brief statement about why. “Thanks for day and night, because by alternating, after night there is always a new day.” The book is written more as a list, and it really helped my kiddos think about being thankful for more relevant things. After reading it, they added many new items to their own lists of thanks.
I hope these read alouds open up amazing conversations in your classroom like they do in mine!
I may earn a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase through any links in this post.