November is Native American Indian Heritage Month in the U.S. Often, the only activities related to this month honoring Native Americans are some variation of the Thanksgiving story, including an account of the first celebration between pilgrims and indigenous people complete with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. For those teachers looking for new Thanksgiving reading activities, this can be the perfect time to enrich your students’ understanding of Native American Indians and provide greater context and study beyond Thanksgiving.
For students in grades 2–5, reading and discussing 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving (Catherine Grace) or Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times (Kate Waters, Russ Kendall), may be a way to encourage your students to take a deeper look at Native American history. Full-color photographs, taken at the Plimoth Plantation historical site in Massachusetts, offer “a more measured, balanced, and historically accurate version…” (School Library Journal).
Children of the Longhouse (Joseph Bruchac) may be another reading choice to extend beyond Thanksgiving.
Middle School and High School
For older students in middle and high school, an opportunity to explore the history and to tie in often overlooked fiction and non-fiction can lead to rich reading and writing opportunities between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Works by Sherman Alexie, a Native American writer