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Can you recommend historically accurate children's books about (American) Thanksgiving?
November 20, 2012 5:44 AM   Subscribe

Looking for equitable Thanksgiving curriculum materials

I'm a first grade teacher at a school with a strong equity focus. I'd like to find some read alouds that are historically accurate with respect to the story of Thanksgiving. It obviously doesn't need to say, "Then the white man raped and pillaged" or go into gross detail, but I would like to find a story that, e.g. tells the story of Squanto in detail including the sad bits or portrays the Wampanoags accurately in pictures. Most of the books I find make it sound like, "Squanto showed the pilgrims how to cut up a fish to make fertilizer, then they sat down and ate and they had a really really nice time together."

Suggestions?
posted by mermily to Education (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you can't find anything with the historical "equity" you're looking for, perhaps it would be worth talking about the simple trials and tribulations of everyday life both sides faced at that time, in a first-grade-appropriate way?

Maybe look at how houses were designed that didn't really protect people from cold it was, or how sick people got because they didn't have modern medicine, or how all the foods we like to eat today weren't around then.

It might be interesting for them to compare the relative abundance of their own lives and the harsh existence of people hundreds of years ago.
posted by mdonley at 6:00 AM on November 20, 2012


I'm not sure you'd be able to find things which deal with Thanksgiving specifically, which are also aimed at a first-grade audience. Agreeing with mdonley about the "everyday life" angle in this case - it could help underscore that "just because the Wampanoags lived differently from the Pilgrims didn't make them better or worse -- just like if people today live differently than you it doesn't make that better or worse either".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:37 AM on November 20, 2012


Here is a scholarly paper with a suggested story and study questions for kids in the Tacoma School District. I'm sure you can use this to work with your students.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:41 AM on November 20, 2012


You might find some ideas on the Plimouth Plantation website. The section for children has some Thanksgiving related stuff. Also see their Thanksgiving history page. (Note, some of these pages load slowly this time of year).
posted by gudrun at 7:26 AM on November 20, 2012


These books are for older kids, but might give you some ideas:
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
By: Catherine O. Grace & Margaret E. Bruchac
Illustrated by: Sisse Brimberg, Cotton Coulson
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A considerable amount of information is packed into this pictorial presentation of the reenactment of the first Thanksgiving, held at Plimoth Plantation museum in October, 2000…Five chapters give background on the Wampanoag people, colonization, Indian diplomacy, the harvest of 1621, and the evolution of the Thanksgiving story. — School Library Journal
Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition
By: Russell Peters
Illustrated by: John Madama
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

For the Wampanoag Indians (the descendants of those who greeted the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620) in Mashpee, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, the clambake is more than just a many-splendored outdoor dinner; it is a traditional ceremony of their people. Twelve-year-old Steven Peters, grandson of the author, learns from Peters the history and traditions of their people, including the creation of a special clambake. — School Library Journal (We Are Still Here: Native Americans Today)
These resources might also be of interest:
- Tips for Choosing Culturally Appropriate Books & Resources About Native Americans
- American Indians in Children's Literature
- Oyate (seems to be down right now).

And this isn't Thanksgiving related, but here's a list of children's books about Native Americans.

Disclaimer: I work on colorincolorado.org, but not the other sites.
posted by sa3z at 9:21 AM on November 20, 2012


Oh, I forgot one more book! This isn't exactly what you're looking for but is perfect for 1st grade:
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message
By: Chief Jake Swamp
Illustrated by: Erwin Printup
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In this poignant and graceful picture book, Chief Jake Swamp gives thanks to Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants for sharing their rare and precious gifts. According to the author's note, these words are still spoken at ceremonial and governmental gatherings held by the Six Nations. Available in Spanish. Related classroom activities are included in this teachers guide.
posted by sa3z at 9:39 AM on November 20, 2012


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