Five Books that Reframe the Thanksgiving Narrative

These children's books, authored by Native writers, help set the record straight.

By Aura Bogado Nov 20, 2013

November is Native American Heritage Month, and as Thanksgiving looms, too many people scramble–and fail–to make sense of its meaning. A good portion of Awkward Family Photos about Thanksgiving, for example, feature people dressing up in ways that are often more offensive than they are awkward.   

Over at Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN), Debbie Reese, who researches the way Natives are represented in children’s books, offers a list of five books that challenge the dominant Pilgrim and Indian narrative. Although the books are written for a young audience, some adults might also benefit from reading and thinking beyond Thanksgiving.

Among the five books is Cynthia Leitich Smith’s "Indian Shoes." Reese writes:

This easy-reader chapter book is about Ray Halfmoon, a Seminole-Cherokee boy, and his grandfather, who live in present-day Chicago. Indian Shoes is one of six stories in the book. Sprinkled with humor and warmth, each story is rich with details about Native life. Being set in Chicago, it makes clear that Native people are part of today’s America, and that some of us–be it by choice or other circumstances–live away from our homelands.

You can read the full list over at ICTMN