What does Thanksgiving mean to you, and how do you share it with children? The Thanksgiving holiday has a complex, mythology-steeped history that means different things to different people. Many Indigenous people do not celebrate Thanksgiving because of its association with genocide and land theft. At the Plymouth Rock landing site, United American Indians of New England (UAINE) observe a National Day of Mourning annually on the 4th Tuesday of November.
Here's what National Day of Mourning is all about, from UAINE's website:
"Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands and the erasure of Native cultures. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Indigenous ancestors and Native resilience. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide."
At the library, we work hard to connect people to accurate information from credible sources. So how can families and educators navigate books about Thanksgiving when so many portray stereotypes and convey inaccurate history?
This is a great time to read books by Indigenous authors and share stories that reflect Native perspectives about the Pilgrims and European settlers. There’s also a growing body of Thanksgiving books for children that share historical facts rather than a mythological story. We can also choose books that center shared values like gratitude and generosity, celebrate the beauty of autumn, and that lift up the joy of community and warmth of a shared meal with friends and family.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite children’s titles on these topics:
- Gratitude & Generosity
- Food, Friends, and Family
- Thanksgiving History
- New Kids Books to Celebrate Indigenous Heritage
You can also visit any branch library to pick up a bookmark of children’s titles by Indigenous authors and illustrators to enjoy all year long!