Blogger Abby Johnson

Give Thanks for Storytime

It’s November and Thanksgiving is definitely on the minds of our local preschool and daycare teachers. We always get requests for Thanksgiving storytimes this month, so I wanted to share some storytime ideas today in case you need a little inspiration! I know every librarian and library is different when it comes to planning a holiday-themed storytime (and that’s great!), but I hope I’ve got a little something for everyone here.


Photo by Abby Johnson, NAFCPL
  • All for Pie, Pie for All by David Martin, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev (Candlewick Press, 2006) – This book doesn’t really have anything to do with Thanksgiving except that pie is something that is traditionally eaten and it’s a sweet story about sharing food with family and friends.
  • Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2012) – This entry in the Bear series has all the woodland creatures coming together to share a meal and appreciate each other.
  • Feeling Thankful by Shelley Rotner and Sheila Kelly (Milbrook Press, 2000) – Again, this book doesn’t necessarily feature Thanksgiving, but it talks about many things children might be thankful for and it can start a great conversation about the things your storytime kids are thankful for.
  • I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson, illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner (Puffin, 1997) – This twist on the traditional song features Thanksgiving foods from pie to cider to squash to turkey. This could make a great prop song, too.
  • I’m a Turkey! by Jim Arnosky (Scholastic, 2009) – In true Arnosky style, this nonfiction picture book details the life of a wild turkey. No turkeys are turned into dinner here.
  • My First Thanksgiving by Tomie DePaola (Putnam Juvenile, 1992) – This very simple board book explains the first Thanksgiving in succinct text. This might make a good introduction to the holiday or you may feel that it oversimplifies, depending on what age you’re targeting.
  • Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr, illustrated by Laura Rader (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2007) – In this book, turkey knows the farmer is after him and tries to disguise himself as other farm animals to escape being cooked for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, illustrated by Doris Barrette (HarperCollins, 2004) – This is another book that lists (in rhyming couplets) things kids might be thankful for, but this one is definitely set at Thanksgiving.
  • ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic, 1990) – Mimicking the traditional ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, this story has a class taking a field trip to a turkey farm where they start feeling sorry for the turkeys they will soon be eating for Thanksgiving. It’s a little longer, so I usually use this one with our school-age groups.

Flannel Stories/Rhymes/Activities: 

Photo by Abby Johnson, NAFCPL

Turkey Feathers. You can add the feathers one at a time, talking about the colors and then counting them at the end. Or you can hand out different colored feathers to each child and have them bring up the feather as you call the color.

Photo by Abby Johnson, NAFCPL

Thanksgiving Colors. This is an idea adapted from Melissa Deppers’ Red, White, and Blue flannel. As you put the pieces on the board: “Here we have a red heart… and a red apple… and a red PUMPKIN!” At this point, the kids will surely pipe up to correct you and you move the orange item down  to the next row and start again… until you get to the turkey at the end, which has all the colors.

Both of these flannel activities provide great practice with colors. Before you start Turkey Feathers, you might find a photo of a real turkey and point out the tail and feathers. And doing Thanksgiving Colors also provides practice with same & different.

Photo by Abby Johnson, NAFCPL


Five Nervous Turkeys. I am so sad that I don’t have a source for this one because it is super duper cute. (If you know where this song comes from, please let me know!)

Start with five turkeys on your flannel mitt and sing the following song:

To the tune of “My Bonnie”

5 (4, 3, 2, 1) turkeys were getting quite nervous.
Thanksgiving Day soon would be back.
So one turkey put on a duck suit,
(Take one turkey off, put one duck on.)
And now he says, “Gobble, quack, quack!”


  • If You’re Thankful and You Know It, Clap Your Hands. You might want to lead into this one by talking about what everyone is thankful for. Of course we’re thankful for our library and our library kids!
  • The Turkey Pokey (put your wing in, your beak, your claw, your tail, etc.). This also provides an opportunity to talk about turkey body parts and how they’re different from people body parts! Example: “We have a hand, does a turkey have a hand? A turkey has a beak, what do we have?”

More resources!!

For more flannel and prop stories, don’t miss Flannel Friday’s Thanksgiving Pinterest board!

You can find additional Thanksgiving storytime plans at:

At Mel’s Desk, Melissa Depper has a list of books about gratitude.

Preschool Thanksgiving lesson plans:

Stretched for materials on Thanksgiving and turkeys? Consider adding stories or activities about food or love and kindness.

These are some of the books and activities we have used; what are your favorite books, songs, or activities for Thanksgiving (or non-holiday alternatives)?

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN


  1. Jessica Moore

    Thank you for this great resource! It will be a big help as I plan my Thanksgiving Storytime!

  2. Angela Reynolds

    Wow. Now that is a whole lot of thanks! One could wake up late and do storytime easily with this plan in hand. THANKS, Abby! So helpful to have all these resources in one place.

  3. Jennifer

    My staff tells me I overthink these things, but I still think it’s weird to read the kids all these “oh no, the turkey has to escape! happy ending!” books and then they go home to eat turkey. Why does this not blow their little minds? It boggles mine. I read them anyway, of course, b/c we like running in storytime, but still…

    It’s thoughts like these that put me down in history as “the storytime lady who did snakes on Valentine’s Day”

    1. Abby Johnson

      *nods* I can totally understand that and I’ve had that moment, too, wondering if reading books about turkeys is traumatizing… how much do they understand about WHERE our turkey dinner comes from? And that’s why I like that there’s a wide variety of stuff available; librarians, teachers, and parents can choose the materials to share that work for them!

  4. Tracy

    Jennifer, you’re not alone! I remember the first time I saw “Run, Turkey, Run.” I was still in circ, and I was actually a vegetarian at the time, but that book still makes me uncomfortable. My rule for picking storytime books is it has to be something I like.

  5. Lisa

    This year I’m adding Balloons over Broadway to my storytime for slightly older kids (I used it today with disabled adults), and if you’re lucky enough to have the Access Video on Demand database, you can find a 2 minute clip of the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

    Also, Jim Arnosky’s I’m a Turkey is also one of my favorites, but I let him sing it. Scholastic has a streaming mp3 or a download. It’s especially fun to hear the real wild turkeys gobbling at the end.

    I also like to doOver the River and Through the Woods (there are many versions). If you’re lucky, the parents will sing with you!

    I love 5 Nervous Turkeys! I’m definitely using that one this year. Thanks.

    1. abbylibrarian Post author

      I loooooooove Balloons Over Broadway! I might take that with me to my Afterschool visits this month!

  6. MelissaZD

    Abby! You did a lot of work bringing all these resources together–I am honored to be included! I *love* your take on the holiday colors flannel. I did NOT think about adapting it to Thanksgiving so I am so glad you did!!!

  7. Sharon McClintock

    Thank you so much for a wealth of suggestions, Abby! I love your flannelboard ideas. Another great Thanksgiving picture book is The Thankful Book by Todd Parr.

  8. Pingback: Farm Stand Storytime: Thanks & Giving : Sturdy for Common Things

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