As we continue to share resources for rethinking Thanksgiving, today’s post focuses on literature you can use in the classroom. As you’ll see, a number of the resources below come from Debbie Reese’s blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature. It’s an amazing site that I can’t say enough about. As an expert in the area of Native American Literature, Reese knows far more about the subject than I do, thus I’m deferring to her recommendations and resources.
If you’re wondering why you may not want to use traditional children’s literature about Thanksgiving, I encourage you to check out her recent post “Looking for Children’s Books about Thanksgiving (Part 1)“. It’s a great discussion of some of the more popular children’s books about Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to reading the next part of this series of posts. Once you read Reese’s piece linked above, you may find yourself wondering what literature you should bring in to your classroom this month. She has suggestions for that as well. This month she authored the On Focus column for the School Library Journal. In her article “Resources and Kid Lit About American Indians,” Reese gives book suggestions for preschool, elementary, middle and high school with descriptions of each book she lists. On her blog, she also shares her Top Ten Books about American Indians for Babes, Elementary, Middle and High School.
Through both the Rethinking Schools Blog and Reese’s review I came across the recently published book, If I Ever Get Out of Here (Ages 12 and up) written by Eric Gansworth. Here’s a quick summary from the author’s page: “What do you do when you’re American Indian, so nobody in your class talks to you, dirt poor like snow-blowing-through-the-roof poor, small for your age so bullies like Evan Reiniger make you their punching bag, and a Beatles fan, meaning your favorite band broke up years ago? Well, you make friends like George Haddonfield, a new kid in town, tell lies because what George doesn’t know about your house won’t hurt him. Tell truths, ’cause someone’s going to listen to you about Evan, right? And make your own music since in the end your friends and family are all you have.” (As a side note, I think students would really enjoy the author’s site for the book, which has both links to youtube videos of songs featured in the book and some of Gansworth’s artwork from the book).
I’ve just started it, so I can’t offer a full review, but so far I love it. I had trouble putting it down, but unfortunately, I have a paper to work on, so I have to wait on finishing the book. Reviewers have had nothing but praise for the book. It would be a great read aloud or novel study for November. Francisco X. Stork (author of October’s book club novel Marcelo in the Real World) wrote the following of the book: “The beauty of this novel lies in the powerful friendship between two young men who are so externally different and so internally similar. Wonderful, inspiring, and real.” If you’ve read it or plan on using it in your classroom, I’d love to hear your thoughts. It seems like those who liked The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian will also like Gansworth’s book.
Hope you find these resources helpful!
In case you’ve missed any of our other posts on Thanksgiving, here are the links:
- ¡Mira, Look!: Rethinking Thanksgiving
- WWW: Plimoth Plantation – Thanksgiving Interactive
- En la Clase: Thanksgiving Reconsidered