Nov 18, 2012

Thanksgiving- from Many Points of View

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebration observed at different times and with various traditions around the world. Even in this country it had a mixed history until it was first formalized as a national day of thanks by President Lincoln, as noted in a last week's post.

Long before that, long before the Pilgrims ever landed at Plymouth Rock, Native Americans honored Mother Earth and her bounty with harvest ceremonies and celebrations. It is foolish to suggest that any one person, blog, or group speaks for all Native Americans, but it is safe to say that attitudes about traditional American Thanksgiving are wide-ranging, and much more complex than typically depicted in the Pilgrims/Indians tales.

Lee & Low Books, 1995

One way to incorporate a balanced approach to this holiday is to share a simple and powerful picture book by Chief Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup, Jr. GIVING THANKS: A NATIVE AMERICAN GOOD MORNING MESSAGE offers an inspiring start to Thanksgiving or any day of the year.

The words of thanks in this Reading Rainbow book come from Native People known as the Haudenosaunee, or more commonly, the Iroquois or Six Nations, whose native lands centered around the Great Lakes.

Puffin Books, 2002

Reflecting for even a few minutes on this book is a perfect prelude to reading BROTHER EAGLE, SISTER SKY, a message from Chief Seattle, with remarkable and inspiring paintings by Susan Jeffers. His message about the need to respect every aspect of the Earth and its resources, his plea to recognize that we are but one strand in a web that is both vibrant and fragile, rings even more true today than it was over a hundred years ago when his words were first spoken.
Read what Kirkus Review had to say about this timely and timeless book.

Scholastic Paperback, 2000
Speaking of timeless, here's another challenge for anyone willing to search libraries, used book stores, or online resellers. A THANKSGIVING WISH, by Michael J.Rosen, illustrated by John Thompson, is the perfect selection for those dealing with the loss of a loved one, for those still struggling to recover  from the East Coast superstorm, and for those who believe traditions can draw us closer, especially at holiday times.

With a cumulative 4.29 stars, this synopsis is from Goodreads:
"After her grandmother Bubbe's death, Amanda is worried that Thanksgiving will never be the same. But when she recalls Bubbe's favorite custom -- having her grandchildren make wishes on wishbones she had saved up throughout the year -- Amanda and her family discover the power and comfort embedded in tradition."
I'll add to that. This Thanksgiving story, unlike most, features a Jewish family, a massive storm and power outage, and the generosity of strangers. 

Here's hoping that one or all of these titles find their way into your lives this week or some time in the future. All provide food for thought, as well as heartwarming illustrations and reflections. 

I'm wishing everyone happiness and good company on Thanksgiving and every day.

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