“What happened in this country, especially since the Industrial Revolution, was that wild foods were deemed of lesser quality, and therefore less desirable, than cultivated foods. The prevailing attitude seemed to become that if one had to forage for food, that meant that one was too poor to purchase food, and in this Land of Opportunity, where everyone could and should be rich, being poor was akin to being worthless and lazy. Only those who were very desperate foraged, and only in times of extreme hardship … or only for certain foods.”
The Thanksgiving holiday has a fascinating history. There are many reasons and historic events behind the holiday, some good and some bad, but most people think of it in terms of two things: family and food.
Bear Says Thanks, is the perfect representation of Thanksgiving as a family-and-food holiday. It’s similar to the old ‘stone soup’ fable, where everyone brings a little something and the feast they share as a community fills both bellies and hearts.
In this story, Bear is sad because he doesn’t have any food and he wants his friends to come over for the holiday, but he can’t host a gathering without food. His friends come over anyway, each bringing something to share. Bear’s den provides the gathering space and the warm fire. A wonderful time is had by all.
It’s a simple and lovely story with beautiful illustrations that very young children will enjoy hearing over the holiday weekend.
A quote can be read HERE.
Suggestions for Building Excitement Over The Holidays
Ordering Books: Whether you are building a family library or simply looking for a fun way to build-up to the Holiday celebration, having brand new books shipped to your home, in your child’s name, is a great way to do it. To a child, it is super exciting to receive a package in the mail, addressed to them! They may even want to read their brand-new book immediately AND before bed.
Library Holds: If you’d prefer to review the books before buying them, or need to maintain a tight budget, then use the local library. Go to the library website, locate the book and place it on hold. When the notification arrives, bring the child along and let them help find the books in the on-hold shelves.
Aunt Zelda’s suppers usually took people’s minds off their problems. She was a hospitable cook who liked to have as many people around her table as she could, and although her guests always enjoyed the conversation, the food could be more of a challenge. The most frequent description was “interesting,” as in, “That bread and cabbage bake was very…interesting, Zelda. I never would have thought of that myself,” or, “Well, I must say that strawberry jam is such an…interesting sauce for sliced eel.”
I am not a teacher or an expert in Native American culture (or language or history or…), but when I read this book it occurred to me that this might be a particularly useful story for Native American Heritage Month. The reason is that the story is about an Ojibwe boy who arrives at a community event feeling very hungry. Ojibwe traditions require allowing the elders to eat first, so Johnny (who loves to eat), must learn to sit patiently and wait his turn.
It’s a very simple story about a cultural tradition that kids can readily understand. It’s also the kind of thing that exists in many cultures, in one form or another, so it’s an easy thing to talk about.
Again, I’m not an expert, and I most certainly could be wrong about all of this, but those are my thoughts. Take them for what you will.
“He looked at all the people still waiting to eat and started to count them. “One, two, three…” Grandma tapped Johnny’s knee. “It’s Time to eat.””
–Hungry Johnny, written by Cheryl Minnema and illustrated by Wesley Ballinger
“When the people up in the castle saw what had happened, they began to cheer. Without the Nasty Knight, they were once again free!…From that day on, Nick made sure that at last his poor mother and his family had enough to eat every day.”
–Nick and the Nasty Knight by Ute Krause
“As we reflect on our year of foraging adventures, one thing we marvel at is nature’s capacity to heal, and while we cannot prove it (yet — more research definitely needs to be done), we are certain that the foods nature offers at any given time of the year are exactly the foods we need to achieve optimal health. That is, what grows where we live is what we need to stay healthy.”