November 16, 2017-- Thanksgiving is upon us, and the library is full of picture books, indigenous folklore, illustrations of Plains Indians, and political history surrounding indigenous populations of the Americas.
This week’s challenge in the ISD library is to give children “good” books to read about the subject of Thanksgiving.
How do I balance a child’s pleasure in reading with developing the child’s complex understanding of colonization? How do I balance a child’s literacy with the promotion of accurate historical information about Indigenous Americans? It’s a tricky beast for librarians to tackle. We want to “turn kids on” to reading, not bore them to tears. We want to make them knowledgeable, but not at the expense of the joy of reading. What’s a librarian to do?! I will leave you with a collection of cover images, and I challenge you, the family, to discuss with your children why there there is so very little indigenous representation on the covers of these children’s books. What does the absence of indigenous representation reveal about America’s treatment of our first nations and our understanding of Thanksgiving? If you or your children could change the cover of the book, in what ways would you do so? How will you discuss the pronounced absence of indigenous representation in the library’s elementary books overall?
I would love to hear back from you regarding the quality of conversation you have with your families about these elementary picture books that your kids can check out for seasonal reading.