15 Thanksgiving & Native American Picture Books in English & Chinese

Thanksgiving picture books for kids in Chinese and English

Each November, in addition to what my kids learn in school, we try to read Thanksgiving books that highlight Native Americans. Since my kids are bilingual, we have both English and Chinese picture books about Thanksgiving 感恩节绘本 / 感恩節繪本 (gǎn’ēn jié huìběn).

This season is also the perfect opportunity to learn about how our family’s Asian heritage has similarities with American Thanksgiving traditions. Although Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and Korean Chuseok are typically celebrated about month or two earlier, each of these cultures prioritize spending time with relatives, celebrating fall harvest, and giving thanks for our blessings.

Gail Gibbons Pumpkin and Thanksgiving Books for Kids

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Decolonizing Thanksgiving books with accurate Native American history

While we want our kids to remember Thanksgiving holiday as a special bonding time with family and full bellies, we also want them to know accurate Thanksgiving history.

Compared to biased, Pilgrim-focused, colonialism stories I learned during my childhood, I’m thankful that our children’s schools try to honor Native American history. If your school is still lacking inclusive literature, you can offer those books at home.

As with learning any part of history, reading books by various authors is important for understanding what actually happened in the past.

Since these books were not available when I was in elementary school, I tell my kids that I’m learning about Native Americans and Thanksgiving history with them.

English and Chinese Thanksgiving books on front-facing book rack
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 through the inter-library loan program!

Kids Thanksgiving books in Chinese and English

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses Chinese book about Native Americans with Luka Reading Robot

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 Chinese and English book about Native Americans Plains Tribe

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.

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, Thanksgiving 感恩节 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 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 Berenstain - Berenstain Bears Christian Thanksgiving book for kids
感恩 Give Thanks by Stan & Jan Berenstain

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 anthropomorphic bear family talks about the history of Thanksgiving and modern day traditions. Please note that this book presents 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

  • 作者 (Author): Stan & Jan Berenstain
  • Simplified Chinese / ISBN: 9787547007860 – currently out of print
  • English / ISBN: 9780310712510

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 story that focuses on the pilgrim’s perspective, which we ordered only because it is one of few Thanksgiving stories available in Chinese. Although the illustrations are cute, only the last page shows Native Americans smiling at the Thanksgiving feast. All other illustrations in the book focus on the pilgrims, which speaks volumes about the bias.

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

Kids Thanksgiving books in English

The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose; picture book about Native American history
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 about Native American tribes. Although the text is relatively long at 80 pages per book, the question and answer format features easy-to-understand, child-appropriate language.

Where to buy: Amazon

Top: If You Lived With The Iroquois book; Bottom: If you were at the first Thanksgiving book - picture books about Native Americans
Top: If You Lived With the Iroquois; Bottom: If You Were at the First Thanksgiving

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"
Daughter’s 1st grade homework: drawing and copywork journal for the book “Encounter”

Encounter

The Encounter book was part of my daughter’s 1st/2nd grade school curriculum. Since the book is deep with figurative language, we re-read and understand it better with each passing year.

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, which reflects how the life for the Native Americans 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 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

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

Books about gratitude in Chinese and English

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 - picture book for kids
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 - Thanksgiving book about gratitude
Thankful by Eileen Spinelli

Thankful

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 - Halloween, Autumn, and Thanksgiving book for kids
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 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

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?

Please share in the comments below so we can learn from your experience!

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 12 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

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

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