15 Thanksgiving & Native American Picture Books in English & Chinese

Thanksgiving picture books for kids in Chinese and English

Happy Thanksgiving Month! For the past few weeks, my kids and I have been reading many English and Chinese picture books about gratitude, harvest, and the American Thanksgiving holiday.

Since Thanksgiving is an important North American holiday, we’ve been trying to read about the history from the perspectives of both Native Americans and European colonists.

Gail Gibbons Pumpkin and Thanksgiving Books for Kids

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Compared to the heavily-biased, Eurocentric books I read as a child, our kids have a few options with Native American perspective. However, finding historically accurate Chinese Thanksgiving picture books 感恩节绘本 / 感恩節繪本 (gǎn’ēn jié huìběn) remains challenging.

Since our Chinese Thanksgiving books tend to gloss over the Native Americans, most of the books we’ve been reading are in English. I’ve been explaining to our children the history that I learned as a teaching point about how history must be taught carefully and without exclusion.

Over time, I hope more books from a Native American perspective can be translated into Chinese. I’ll update this post as we learn about new books, and please share any that you recommend!

English and Chinese Thanksgiving books on front-facing book rack

To help you find these Thanksgiving books, I’ve included ISBN information and links to popular English and Chinese bookstores. Some books are available in both English and Chinese; others are in English only.

Also remember to check your library to see if these books are available locally or via inter-library loan!

As always, I’ve also include photos of the inside of each English and Chinese book to help you decide whether the book is the appropriate reading level for your child.

English and Chinese Thanksgiving books

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses Chinese book about Native Americans

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses 野马之歌 / 野馬之歌

This beautiful Caldecott-winning story is about a young Native American Plains girl and her adventures with her beloved horses. She leaves home to roam with the horses and holds on tight (literally and figuratively) during a dangerous stampede. This is a timeless classic for older kids and adults.

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses 野马之歌 / 野馬之歌

Where to buy

Audio narration: Luka Reading Robot

Magic School Bus First Thanksgiving 第一次感恩节

Through the magical yellow school bus, Ms. Frizzle takes her students back in time to the Mayflower crossing the Atlantic and adjusting to life in America. Native Americans, including Squanto, are shown as helping the pilgrims learn to plant and survive, and they feast together at the end of the story. Little is discussed about specific Native American history.

This book is part of our Magic School Bus Bridge Books 桥梁版 series which you can read more about here. The series is available in English, simplified and traditional Chinese.

Gail Gibbons "Thanksgiving" book in English (top) and simplified Chinese (bottom)
Gail Gibbons “Thanksgiving” book in English (top) and simplified Chinese (bottom)

Thanksgiving 感恩节

As with all books by Gail Gibbons, this one has gorgeous illustrations. The overview of Thanksgiving begins with a brief overview of harvest celebrations in other cultures, such as the Greeks, Jews and Chinese. Then, the American Thanksgiving holiday is explained from the perspective of the pilgrims.

In the Chinese version, only a few words have Pinyin. Depending on your child’s reading and comprehension level, this book is geared for children ranging from Kindergarten to mid-elementary school age.

Where to buy

感恩 Give Thanks by Stan & Jan Berestain

感恩 Give Thanks

This Chinese Berenstain Bears book is part of their series about faith (生命之光系列丛书全8册) . The famous famous anthropomorphic bear family talks about the history of Thanksgiving from a Eurocentric perspective.

If you’re interested in the full set and listening to the Mandarin Narration on Ximalaya, read my review of the Chinese Christian Berenstain Bears books!

Where to buy

Related: Chinese Bible Activities for Kids (Free Printable)

The Thanksgiving Story 感恩节 by Alice Dalgliesh

The Thanksgiving Story 感恩节

Here’s another one of many stories that focus on the pilgrim’s perspective. I ordered this only because it was one of few Thanksgiving stories translated to Chinese, but I would not recommend it. While the illustrations are cute and realistic, only the last page shows Native Americans smiling at the Thanksgiving feast. All other illustrations in the book focus on the pilgrims, which I think speaks volumes about the bias. If you’re still curious, I’ll share the links below.

Where to buy

  • 作者 (Author): Alice Dalgliesh
  • Simplified Chinese / ISBN: 9787559328625
  • English / ISBN: 9780689710537

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

This is popular book is based on the true story of puppeteer Tony Sarg and how the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with giant balloons became a famous American tradition. The illustrations are colorful and a bit crowded (like a real parade). The narrative is a bit more detailed and suitable for elementary-aged kids.

Where to buy

  • 作者 (Author): Alice Dalgliesh
  • Traditional Chinese / ISBN: 9789866049477
  • English / ISBN: 9780547199450

English books about Thanksgiving

The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose

The Very First Americans

This Thanksgiving picture book was part of my daughter’s 1st/2nd grade curriculum at school. The book introduces various Native American tribes, such as the Sioux, Hopi, and Plains people, and their lifestyle.

Where to buy

  • 作者 (Author): Cara Ashrose
  • English / ISBN: 9780448401683

If You Lived With the Iroquois, Sioux, Cherokees, Hopi…

Scholastic Publishing has a series of books that covers some of the Native American tribes. Although the text is quite long at 80 pages per book, the question and answer format is in everyday, child-appropriate language.

We have the “If You Lived With the Iroquois” book and just discovered the books that cover other Native American tribes while writing this review.

Where to buy: Amazon

If you were at the first Thanksgiving book

If You Were At the First Thanksgiving

This part of the aformentioned “If You Lived With the….” series that tries to give a balanced perspective of the First Thanksgiving. As above, the history is also presented in question and answer format in a way that children might ask and understand.

Where to buy

  • English / ISBN: 9780439105668
Daughter’s 1st grade homework: drawing and copywork for the book “Encounter”


The Encounter book was part of my daughter’s 1st/2nd grade curriculum at school. However, since the book is deep and has quite a bit of figurative language, this is one to re-read over the years.

The author tells the story from a perspective of a young indigenous child who has a unsettling feeling about Columbus’ arrival. However, his fears are dismissed by the elder tribe members.

The ending is rather abrupt but perhaps reflective of how their civilization was suddenly disrupted and decimated.

Where to buy

  • 作者 (Author): Jane Yolen
  • English / ISBN: 9780152013899

Related: How A Dictation Journal Improves Speaking, Reading, and Writing (VIDEO)

Squanto’s Journey: Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac

Squanto’s Journey: Story of the First Thanksgiving

This is another recommended book for all ages, especially elementary children.

From the perspective of the native Americans, Squanto’s Journey gives a history of the events that surrounded and lead up to the first American Thanksgiving.

Beautifully illustrated, eye-opening book about the first American Thanksgiving.

Where to buy

  • 作者 (Author): Joseph Bruchac
  • English / ISBN: 9780152060442
Fry Bread - A Native American Family Story

Fry Bread – A Native American Family Story

This is a modern and beautiful picture book about the significant of fry bread, a staple of Native American culture. The simple rhythmic text is concluded with a recipe for fry bread and thoughtful author’s note.

Where to buy

  • 作者 (Author): Kevin Noble Maillard
  • English / ISBN: 9781626727465

English and Chinese books about gratitude

Last Stop on Market Street Chinese and English versions
Last Stop on Market Street in English (top) and simplified Chinese (bottom)

市場街最後一站/市场街最后一站 Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop on Market Street is not a Thanksgiving book per se but a wonderful book about gratitude, perfect for the season.

Last year, we read it in English as part of my daughter’s school curriculum. Since we loved it so much, we had to buy the Chinese translation!

While riding on a bus from church to a soup kitchen, a little boy asks his grandmother questions about their circumstances, like why they don’t have a car or iPod.

Grandma’s heartwarming answers help children see the positive around us and cultivate a thankful heart.

Where to buy

Audio narration: Luka Reading Robot reads this in English and Mandarin

Related: 25 Children’s Books About Black History in Chinese and English

Thankful for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes

Thankful for Thanksgiving

This is a simple book about everyday gratitude culminating with Thanksgiving holiday. The rhyming text is catchy, and the illustrations feature some diversity with hair color.

Where to buy

  • 作者 (Author): Julie Markes
  • English / ISBN: 9780060510985
Thankful by Eileen Spinelli


This simple picture book is also about everyday gratitude with a religious perspective as shown in the image above. Since book is so simple and we have other books with encouraging messages, I think this would be a great book to borrow rather than buy.

Where to buy

  • 作者 (Author): Eileen Spinelli
  • English / ISBN: 9780310761402

Chinese and English books about autumn

Pumpkin book Gail Gibbons Chinese
The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons

The Pumpkin Book

Through this cheerfully-illustrated book, Gail Gibbons teaches children about pumpkins (how to plant, growth cycle, varieties) and their special role at modern Thanksgiving celebrations.

Where to buy

Related: 25+ Delicious English and Chinese Picture Books About Food

In November by Cynthia Rylant

In November

This book and it’s cozy illustrations takes children through the seasonal changes of fall and transitioning to winter.

Animals seek shelter and food while families and friend gather to celebrate Thanksgiving blessing.

Where to buy

  • 作者 (Author): Cynthia Rylant
  • English / ISBN: 9780152063429
Thanksgiving books for kids in Chinese and English

What are your favorite English and Chinese books about Thanksgiving?

What are your family’s favorite English and Chinese Thanksgiving books that are historically balanced? Do you recommend other stories about Native Americans?

We would love to learn more about your experiences and thoughts!

Please share in the comments below so all readers can learn from you!

感恩节 感恩節 10 Thanksgiving Videos in Mandarin Chinese

More Thanksgiving Activities and Resources for Children

I put together a list of 11 Thanksgiving 感恩节 YouTube Videos for Kids in Mandarin Chinese!

These Chinese YouTube videos given an overview of American Thanksgiving. I’ve also included a cute Chinese Thanksgiving song and poem!

We’re also having fun with Thanksgiving Chinese literacy activities plus learning activities with leaves, and I hope that your kids can enjoy them, too!

English & Chinese Christmas Books

Christmas is right around the corner! If you’re getting ready for the next holiday, check out our favorite Christmas picture books in Chinese and English!

Christmas & Winter Picture Books in Chinese & English


Many websites and apps offer FREE multilingual books for kids!

Ximalaya FM is our favorite, and I highly recommend their free Chinese audiobooks for all kids!

Since the entire website and app is in Chinese, please refer to this guide on How to Use Ximalaya if you cannot read Chinese.


If you need tips on how to teach your child Chinese, these posts are for you!

感恩节快乐 (Gǎn’ēn jié kuàilè / Happy Thanksgiving)!

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