On Thanksgiving Day, the myth goes, we remember the “first Thanksgiving,” where Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated a good harvest and shared a meal. But that story is often told in an inaccurate or outright false way, and the history that followed is obscured, such that many families now choose to focus on the “giving thanks” aspect of the holiday rather than the historical one.
As educator Debbie Reese (Nambé Pueblo) writes, “Here’s the thing. I want teachers, parents, and librarians to consider that a lot of American Indians don’t necessarily ‘celebrate’ Thanksgiving as it is celebrated in the mainstream American holiday scheme….Native peoples and our cultures were attacked. But we persevered, and many of us have a different view of this holiday….I want you to see me and Pueblo people (in my case) as a people that existed and exists on its own merits – not as minor characters, or colorful ones, in the story that America tells about America.”
So below, we have included books about giving thanks and being grateful, books about cooking and sharing meals together, and books by Native American authors, centering Native kids, both historically and in the present. For more #OwnVoices books, check out the American Indian Youth Literature Award.