Thanksgiving Resources

from the LS Library

Dear Friends,

Many of you know that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday -- it's the one time in the year that I make sure to spend with my family in Chicago, keeping traditions alive, and making memories. My grandparents adopted this unusual holiday of eating turkey and watching football in the 1970s when they first came to America with their two kids, my dad and aunt. Our history of Thanksgiving is relatively short though beloved.

I share these resources with you because for many people, for many children, Thanksgiving is not a beloved holiday. As I read the writings of Native peoples describing their experiences, I am compelled to look more closely at our library collection, to withdraw books that show a white-washed history, and to seek out resources to provide a more balanced historical perspective. Below you'll find some of the resources I consulted and others that you may find useful in your classroom.

Always reading and questioning, Natalie

Read-alouds from our library

Available in the library. Great resource for evaluating older titles, published before 2006. Includes an index of reviewed children's book titles with recommendations as well as articles about common misconceptions.

I would also recommend reading: Revised Criteria from How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children's Books for Anti­-Indian Bias

Read-alouds from Epic!

There are several Thanksgiving books on Epic! that you might want to share with students. I have not read them all, so I'm not sure how culturally appropriate they are. What I do know is that just because it exists does not mean it's good! Use the Revised Criteria linked above to help in your own selection and discernment of texts to share.
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Oyate is a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed with honesty and integrity, and that all people know that our stories belong to us. For Indian children growing up in the 21st century, it is as important as ever for them to know who they are and learn about the histories that they come from. For all children, it is time to know and acknowledge the truths of history. Only then will they come to have the understanding and respect for each other that now, more than ever, will be necessary for life to continue.

Check out their article on Deconstructing the Myths of "The First Thanksgiving."

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Debbie is a founding member of the Native American House and American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois. She is on the Literature Advisory Board for Reading is Fundamental and the Advisory Board for Reach Out and Read American Indian/Alaska Native.

Here is a collection of Debbie's posts about Thanksgiving:

This one spoke to me particularly:

An interactive website using primary sources to uncover the history of Thanksgiving. For older students.
A Thanksgiving resource for educators created by the National Museum of the American Indian. Targeted to grades 4-8, but there are sections for younger students, too.