Saying ‘No Thanks’ to Lying to Kids about Thanksgiving

Saying 'No Thanks' to Lying to Kids about Thanksgiving

by Dr. Tehia Starker GlassUNCC’s College of Education.

Tis the season for depicting the stories that coincide with the holidays!  Thanksgiving is up next and my husband and I have the responsibility of educating our 18 month old and  3 year old about what and why we celebrate.

We choose to say, “No Thanks” to going along with the ‘traditional’ depiction of the Thanksgiving story–the one where the Pilgrims and Indians sing ‘kum by yah’ around a perfectly styled dinner table.

We believe we have to prepare our boys with a foundation of historical accuracy for not only their racial group, but other’s racial groups so they can discern truth from a false or deficit-oriented narrative about themselves and others.  Based on current curriculum that is taught in schools, we know we have to provide a less Eurocentric perspective of history.

It’s critical that our boys learn:

  • a historically accurate representation of Thanksgiving–time, location, people. Ask, ‘Who are the “heroes?” ‘Was it really Thanksgiving like we see in current time?’
  • accurate language–names of the Native Americans/Indigenous people,
  • multiple perspectives (Native and European) of Thanksgiving, 
  • and a developmentally appropriate representation of Thanksgiving. What my 3 year old learns will be different than what my 18 month old learns.

We identified resources that support what we’d like our boys to see.  We found Native American/Indigenous authors, illustrators, historians, organizations and the like to get an authentic perspective of Thanksgiving. Beyond the resources, we chose to incorporate larger ideas of Thanksgiving and what it means to our family.   

Here are some resources we found. So, pull out the arts and crafts supplies, books, and the love, and have some fun celebrating Thanksgiving! 

Constructing Knowledge about “The first Thanksgiving”

North Carolina Native American History (for caregivers and teachers-includes lesson plans)

Lesson Plan for grades 4-12

Children’s Book List from American Indians in Children’s literature

Bible verses about giving thanks.