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12 Best Thanksgiving Poems for Kids to Read Aloud

Imagine a chilly November evening. The smell of delicious turkey fills the air, and you’re gathered around the table with family and friends. You’ve just shared a hearty meal, and now it’s time to give thanks. But how do we do that? Well, here’s an idea: Recite Thanksgiving poems for kids. This is how you can make Thanksgiving extra special for the kids at the table.

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In the words of the renowned American poet Maya Angelou, “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.” Thanksgiving embodies the spirit of this gratitude, celebrates history, and brings families together. And what better way to share these values with our little ones than through the magic of Thanksgiving day poems? These beautiful poems of gratitude are not just words; they’re feelings and stories wrapped in a simple package.

In this blog, we’ll explore some of the best poems of thanksgiving and gratitude perfect for kids, each with its own unique message and charm. Let the Thanksgiving poetry adventure begin!

Related Reading: Best Thanksgiving Wishes for Kids to Wish Family Members

12 Famous Thanksgiving Poems for Friends and Family

Thanksgiving gathering selfie

1. “Thanksgiving” by Lydia Maria Child

A sledge gliding Over the river and through the wood
Source: @TheGoodandtheBeautifulKids

Over the river, and through the wood,

To Grandfather’s house we go;

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh

Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,

Oh, how the wind does blow!

It stings the toes and bites the nose

As over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,

To have a first-rate play.

Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding!”

Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood,

Trot fast, my dapple-gray!

Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!

For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood,

And straight through the barnyard gate.

We seem to go extremely slow—

It is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood—

Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!

Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?

Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

2. “Thanksgiving Day” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Beautiful daisies in a field
Source: @poeticous

We walk on starry fields of white
  And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
  We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
  To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
  Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
  Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
  Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
  We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
  And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
  But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
  To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
  Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
  While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
  Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
  Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
  To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
  To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
  Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
  Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
  As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
  A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

3. “We Thank Thee” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

An beautiful autumn scene
Source: @MotivationWantedASAP

For flowers that bloom about our feet;

For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;

For song of bird, and hum of bee;

For all things fair we hear or see,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

For blue of stream and blue of sky;

For pleasant shade of branches high;

For fragrant air and cooling breeze;

For beauty of the blooming trees,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

For mother-love and father-care;

For brothers strong and sisters fair;

For love at home and here each day;

For guidance lest we go astray,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

For this new morning with its light;

For rest and shelter of the night;

For health and food, for love and friends;

For everything Thy goodness sends,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

4. “A Thanksgiving Fable” by Oliver Herford

A mouse eating an ear of corn
Source: @Evergreentales 

It was a hungry pussy cat,

upon Thanksgiving morn,

And she watched a thankful little mouse,

that ate an ear of corn.

‘If I ate that thankful little mouse,

how thankful he should be,

When he had made a meal himself,

to make a meal for me!

Then with his Thanks for having fed,

and thanks for feeding me.

With all his thankfulness inside,

how thankful I shall be!’

Thus mused the hungry pussy cat,

upon Thanksgiving Day.

But the little mouse had overheard

and declined (with thanks) to stay.

5.  “The Harvest Moon” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

An orange moon
Source: @JohnTlumacki/BostonGlobe

It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes

  And roofs of villages, on woodland crests

  And their aerial neighborhoods of nests

  Deserted, on the curtained window-panes

Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes

  And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!

  Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,

  With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!

All things are symbols: the external shows

  Of Nature have their image in the mind,

  As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;

The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,

  Only the empty nests are left behind,

  And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.

Related Reading: Humorous Thanksgiving Jokes For Kids

6. “November” by Alice Cary

An orange autumn scene
Source: @SusanAlison

The leaves are fading and falling,
The winds are rough and wild,
The birds have ceased their calling,
But let me tell, you my child,

Though day by day, as it closes,
Doth darker and colder grow,
The roots of the bright red roses
Will keep alive in the snow.

And when the Winter is over,
The boughs will get new leaves,
The quail come back to the clover,
And the swallow back to the eaves.

The robin will wear on his bosom
A vest that is bright and new,
And the loveliest way-side blossom
Will shine with the sun and dew.

The leaves to-day are whirling,
The brooks are all dry and dumb,
But let me tell, you my darling,
The Spring will be sure to come.

There must be rough, cold weather,
And winds and rains so wild;
Not all good things together
Come to us here, my child.

So, when some dear joy loses
Its beauteous summer glow,
Think how the roots of the roses
Are kept alive in the snow.

7. “Gobble Gobble” by Lori Soard

An animated turkey holding a plate a folk and a spoon

Gobble gobble, turkey day (put right hand up behind head and wiggle fingers like you are wearing feathers)
Lots of pie to put away (make the motion of eating a pie with a fork)

Turkey, dressing, fresh yellow corn (cross arms and act as if you are holding something)
We’ll be full till Christmas morn (rub tummy with right hand as though stomach is full)

Falling leaves, fresh crisp apples (start with both hands over the head and bring them down, wiggling fingers to show leaves falling)
Full of smiles, pumpkins dappled (put forefinger on each side of mouth and smile big)

Thank you thank you for it all (hold palms flat against mouth and bring them down to waist length with palms now facing up – repeat)
Thanksgiving Day, we’ll have a ball (put hands on hips and left foot out)

8. “The Pilgrims Came” by Annette Wynne

A picture of a pilgrim
Source: @4to40

The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it’s very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving Day.

We tell their story old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea.

The people think that they3 were sad,
And grave; I’m sure that they were glad –
They made Thanksgiving Day – that’s fun –
We thank the Pilgrims every one!

9. “Thanksgiving” by Bill Vilkov 

A beautiful autumn scene
source: @Khamush.com

The wind pushes down the road, a warm breeze

just warm enough.

Thank you for a word…a whisper.

So many colors surround, leaves falling, carpeting a soft path.

Thank you for a life of memories, so full and bright.

A time of transition, neither summer nor winter,

a time of rest,                             

a moment to contemplate.

Thank you for your patience, at times undeserved.

A thought, a subtle gesture,

a warm fire, an ever dimming light,

a time to gather together.

Thank you for being summer, and I winter,

yet we always meet in the fall.

10. “Lord, ’tis Thy plenty-dropping hand” by Robert Herrick

The excerpt from the poem Lord'tis Thy plenty-dropping hand"

Lord, Thou hast given me a cell

         Wherein to dwell,

A little house, whose humble roof

         Is weather-proof:

Under the spars of which I lie

         Both soft, and dry;

Where Thou my chamber for to ward

         Hast set a guard

Of harmless thoughts, to watch and keep

         Me, while I sleep.

Low is my porch, as is my fate,

         Both void of state;

And yet the threshold of my door

         Is worn by th’ poor,

Who thither come and freely get

         Good words, or meat.

Like as my parlour, so my hall

         And kitchen’s small;

A little buttery, and therein

         A little bin,

Which keeps my little loaf of bread

         Unchipp’d, unflead;

Some brittle sticks of thorn or briar

         Make me a fire,

Close by whose living coal I sit,

         And glow like it.

Lord, I confess too, when I dine,

         The pulse is Thine,

And all those other bits, that be

         There plac’d by Thee;

The worts, the purslain, and the mess

         Of water-cress,

Which of Thy kindness Thou hast sent;

         And my content

Makes those, and my beloved beet,

         To be more sweet.

‘Tis Thou that crown’st my glittering hearth

         With guiltless mirth;

And giv’st me wassail-bowls to drink,

         Spic’d to the brink.

Lord, ’tis Thy plenty-dropping hand

         That soils my land;

And giv’st me, for my bushel sown,

         Twice ten for one;

Thou mak’st my teeming hen to lay

         Her egg each day;

Besides my healthful ewes to bear

         Me twins each year;

The while the conduits of my kine

         Run cream, for wine.

All these, and better, Thou dost send

         Me, to this end,

That I should render, for my part,

         A thankful heart,

Which, fir’d with incense, I resign,

         As wholly Thine;

But the acceptance, that must be,

         My Christ, by Thee.

11 “The Pumpkin” by John Greenleaf Whittier

A picture of a pumpkin patch

Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,

The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,

And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,

With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,

Like that which o’er Nineveh’s prophet once grew,

While he waited to know that his warning was true,

And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain

For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden

Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;

And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold

Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;

Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,

On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,

Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,

And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,

From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,

When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board

The old broken links of affection restored,

When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,

And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,

What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?

What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,

When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!

When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,

Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!

When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,

Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,

Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,

In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better

E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!

Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,

Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine!

And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,

Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,

That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,

And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,

And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky

Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

12. “A Thanksgiving Poem” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The sun hath shed its kindly light,
  Our harvesting is gladly o’er
Our fields have felt no killing blight,
  Our bins are filled with goodly store.

From pestilence, fire, flood, and sword
  We have been spared by thy decree,
And now with humble hearts, O Lord,
  We come to pay our thanks to thee.

We feel that had our merits been
  The measure of thy gifts to us,
We erring children, born of sin,
  Might not now be rejoicing thus.

No deed of our hath brought us grace;
  When thou were nigh our sight was dull,
We hid in trembling from thy face,
  But thou, O God, wert merciful.

Thy mighty hand o’er all the land
  Hath still been open to bestow
Those blessings which our wants demand
  From heaven, whence all blessings flow.

Thou hast, with ever watchful eye,
  Looked down on us with holy care,
And from thy storehouse in the sky
  Hast scattered plenty everywhere.

Then lift we up our songs of praise
  To thee, O Father, good and kind;
To thee we consecrate our days;
  Be thine the temple of each mind.

With incense sweet our thanks ascend;
  Before thy works our powers pall;
Though we should strive years without end,
  We could not thank thee for them all.

Related Reading: Prayers for Children to Teach Kids How to Be Grateful

Conclusion

As our Thanksgiving journey through poetry comes to a close, we hope you’ve found inspiration in the simple yet profound words we’ve shared. Thanksgiving is not just about the food on the table; it’s about the warmth in our hearts and the gratitude we feel.

This Thanksgiving, take a moment to slow down and appreciate the little things. Let’s make it about more than just the turkey and pies (though those are great too!). Let’s make it about the smiles, the conversations, and the stories told through poems.

So, gather your family and friends, bring out the thanksgiving poems, and share the warmth of this special day. Let your children discover the joy of poetry, the beauty of gratitude, and the significance of Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving!

Related Reading: Best Thanksgiving Songs for a Groovy & Melodious Celebration

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a common theme of all Thanksgiving poems?

The common theme that runs through most Thanksgiving poems is gratitude. Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to giving thanks for the blessings in our lives, and poems often reflect this theme by expressing appreciation for the harvest, family, friends, and the joys of the season.

What else do you read on the Thanksgiving table other than poems?

While Thanksgiving poems can add a special touch to your holiday table, there are several other things you might find being read or shared during the Thanksgiving meal. These can include:

  • Historical Accounts
  • Thanksgiving Prayers
  • Family Stories and Traditions
  • Gratitude Lists
  • Toasts

Who is the mother of Thanksgiving? What poem is she famous for writing?

The title “Mother of Thanksgiving” is often attributed to Sarah Josepha Hale, famous for writing the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” widely recognized even today. She is also well-known for her tireless efforts to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the United States.

AUTHOR
Brian Lee
Brian Lee is a writer and parent of 3 spirited children. He loves writing about his parenting experience, the lessons his kids teach him every day and parenting hacks and tricks he’s picked up along the way.