Thanksgiving in New York City

New York City has to be one of the greatest places in America, if not the world. Luckily for us, many authors have chronicled The Big Apple's antics in a way just right for kids.

Here are some of the books available. This is not yet a complete list, but I'm adding books to the list daily. If you wish to purchase any of these books, click on either the title or the book cover to be directed to As a warning, I have put up pictures of the book covers to give you somewhat an idea of the style of each book (I know, I know. "Don't judge a book by its cover") so the pages may load slowly, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

The categories below are sorted by approximate age group and topical categories. Feel free to browse around. The same links are located on the left side of your screen. To return back to this page, simply click on the "Welcome" link on the left.

If this website came up without frames, click here to see the complete "New York City Books for Kids" website with frames.

Beginning Readers

Fat Chance Thanksgiving

By Patricia Lakin
After the fire burned through Carla and Mama's apartment, all Carla had left was her beloved book, "A Pilgrim Thanksgiving." Carla read the book over and over. She pretended to be the smiling Pilgrim girl sitting at the feast table, surrounded by family and friends. A year later, when they were finally in a tiny apartment of their own, Carla asked Mama if they could have a Thanksgiving feast. "Fat chance," said Mama, who thought there was no room--and no extra money--for a big dinner. But Carla didn't give up. She and Julio, her new neighbor and friend, decided the building's lobby would be the perfect location for Thanksgiving dinner. And couldn't the residents all pitch in and bring the food?

Description from Publisher

In this story set in New York City, Carla and her mother are placed in an apartment after a one-year wait. The child's only possession, saved from a fire that destroyed their belongings, is a book, A Pilgrim Thanksgiving. Carla imagines herself as a Pilgrim girl and identifies her new home as a new land. When she mentions having a Thanksgiving feast, her mother's response is, "Fat chance." Undaunted, the youngster organizes a potluck dinner in the apartment-house lobby where strangers become friends and neighbors. The presentation is somewhat didactic and the ending is not surprising. However, the message is clear. The story and acrylic-and-gouache illustrations showing the Pilgrim feast juxtaposed with the modern urban apartment will be helpful in bringing the two worlds together. The illustrations are clear and colorful and large enough for a read-aloud. At the same time, the text is simple enough for beginning readers and the format will appeal to reluctant readers. This title is likely to have seasonal demand.

Description from School Library Journal

Lakin's sweet story, an ode to the spirit of Thanksgiving, challenges children to imagine what it must be like to lose everything. When the inner-city apartment Carla and her mother live in is destroyed by fire, Carla's sole remaining possession is a book about the Pilgrim's first Thanksgiving, which she reads over and over as she waits to move to a new home. The idea of a Thanksgiving feast travels with her when she and her mother settle into their new place. But the apartments are small, money is tight, and the neighbors self-absorbed. Still, Carla is determined, and she rallies the residents for a potluck. The food reflects the diversity of the neighbors--from traditional sweet potato pie to Irish stew to roti bread--and everyone has a wonderful time as they discover the joy of community. A loving story of determination and sharing brought to life in richly colored, expressive artwork.

Description from Booklist

Rivka's First Thanksgiving

By Elsa Okon Rael
More than anything, Rivka wants to celebrate Thanksgiving. She has learned all about the holiday in school and knows her family has a lot to be thankful for in America. But Rivka's parents are Jewish immigrants from Poland, and they wonder what Pilgrims and Indians have to do with them. Is Thanksgiving really a holiday for Jews?

Rivka's grandmother, Bubbeh, decides to take over: She will bring Rivka to see the Rabbi Yoshe Preminger -- and whatever the Rabbi concludes, Rivka will have to live with. Rivka knows that Thanksgiving is a holiday for all Americans, from all backgrounds and religions. But how can she convince the esteemed Rabbi Preminger?

Elsa Okon Rael and Maryann Kovalski bring the bustling Lower East Side to life in this heartwarming story. Set in the 1910s, Rivka's First Thanksgiving is about respecting old traditions while embracing new ones, about giving thanks and celebrating freedom in America. Perhaps most important, Rivka's story teaches us that even the wisest adults have something to learn from children.

Description from Publisher

This paean to the wisdom of children is based on Rael's (What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street) own memories as a child of Jewish immigrants growing up on Manhattan's Lower East Side and will remind many readers of Barbara Cohen's Molly's Pilgrim. Like Cohen's tale, Rivka Rubin's story is set in early 20th-century New York City. In Rael's treatment, however, it is the child who understands intuitively that Thanksgiving is indeed a holiday for all Americans and thus may rightfully be embraced by recently arrived Jews, for they have much to be grateful for in having arrived in the US. It's not so easy to convince the adults around her, though, unfamiliar as they are with this American tradition. The neighborhood's revered rabbi initially decides that Thanksgiving is not a celebration for Jews, and that's enough to settle the matter for Rivka's family. Determinedly and with a show of the special brand of chutzpah given only to children, Rivka writes the rabbi a letter that begins: "My Bubbeh believes you are the wisest man in the whole world, but I cannot agree with her." The rabbi ultimately gives his blessing to Rivka's argument and is invited to sit at the head of the table at the Rubin family's first Thanksgiving celebration in America. Kovalski's (Jingle Bells, 1999, etc.) charming drawings, rendered in colored pencils and acrylics, burst with good cheer and beautifully depict the bustling streets of the Lower East Side and its close-knit families.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey

By Joy Cowley

Gracias, El Pavo De Thanksgiving
Spanish Edition Also Available
Miguel, a Puerto Rican boy in New York City, receives a surprise package from his absentee truck-driving father-a gigantic wooden crate with the message: "Fatten this turkey for Thanksgiving. I'll be home to share it with you. Love from Pap." What ensues is a humorous story of Miguel's increasing attachment to the bird he nicknames Gracias. His new amiga follows him everywhere, even to Mass. Will Miguel be able to save Gracias from being seasoned and cooked? Can Pap make it home in time for the holidays? This picture book, illustrated with colorful oil paintings, offers a heartwarming narrative that captures the boy's close-knit sense of community and family.

Description from School Library Journal

Little Miguel lives in a New York City apartment with his grandparents and his aunt, while his truck-driving father is on the road. Papa sends Miguel a turkey to fatten for Thanksgiving, but the boy names the bird Gracias and loves him as a pet. As the holiday approaches, Gracias' fate looms darkly over the festivities. However, when Gracias follows Miguel to church and receives Padre Jaime's blessing, even Abuelo and Abuela concede that they must have chicken for Thanksgiving, because "no one can eat a turkey that's been blessed." Cowley creates a distinctive, modern setting for the old theme of a turkey who sits at rather than on the Thanksgiving table. Although city life is not idealized (at one point a thief steals Gracias), most of the neighbors in Miguel's multiethnic community take a friendly interest in the boy and his bird. The inclusion of Spanish words within the text is handled well, with most meanings evident from the context, but a short glossary also appears on the last page. Cepeda's oil paintings, reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats' illustrations, vividly create Miguel's colorful, sympathetic community as well as individual characters.

Description from Booklist

We're Back!: A Dinosaur's Story

By Hudson Talbott
What happens when scientists from outer space test a new brain-developing product on dinosaurs, educate them, and drop them off in the middle of Manhattan's Thanksgiving Day Parade? Those five and up will adore the off-beat humor of this prehistoric tour de force.

Description from Parents Magazine

Vorb hangs down from a flying saucer and offers some dinosaurs the break of a lifetime; he's from Mega-Mind Inc. and is test-marketing a new product, Brain Grainwith an extra special bonus prize and free snacks. With Brain Grain, a dinosaur first experiences a "new me" and, eventually, a "new us." The prize? A drop into midtown Manhattan in the 20th century. Destination: Dr. Bleeb's Museum of Natural History. The gang parades in a Thanksgiving celebration but soon they're discovered to be real out-of-towners and are chased all the way to the museum, where they're saved by Dr. Bleeb. Those who think original dinosaur books are extinct are going to change their minds with this one. A very welcome bunch of monsters has landed in kids' laps; Talbot's prehistoric characters exhibit real stage presence, from the glint in their eyes to the way they slather over those snacks.

Description from Publishers Weekly

Older Readers

No-Thanks Thanksgiving

By Ilene Cooper
Looking forward to spending her Thanksgiving birthday in New York City, Kathy devises a way of bringing her best friends along and attending a parade and a Broadway show, but squabbles among the friends threaten to spoil everything.

Description from Publisher

Karen's Turkey Day

By Ann Matthews Martin
Anticipating all the Thanksgiving festivities, including a visit by her grandparents and the New York City parade, Karen fears things are going from bad to worse when Grandad gets sick and her parents become occupied with grownup things.

Description from Publisher

Back to "New York City Books for Kids"

Still can't find what you're looking for? Search's database directly.

In Association with


(NOTE: The advertisements below have not been placed on the site by its owners. We are not responsible for their content.)