Why Books About Holidays?

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I tend to turn onto rabbit trails quite a bit.  Sometimes the causes are obvious – I started collecting and reviewing board books after Baby arrived, I started the Diverse Disabled booklist because I wanted to read more books specifically about people of color who were disabled and couldn’t find a similar list anywhere else.

At other times the causes are less obvious.  I started the 30 Day Project because I couldn’t find anything like it at the time (but later found plenty of places with similar information).  There are lots of booklists for indigenous #ownvoices books, but I wanted to record my own progress on the subject and keep the info about each author’s ancestry or tribal membership in one place rather than scattered across various reviews.

This year I’ll be posting some reviews of holiday-themed books, but with a twist.  These books look at popular holidays from a different perspective.  So while I will be posting reviews of some books that look at minority holidays or celebrations, what I mean by this is books that look at Thanksgiving from a Native American or immigrant or Latino perspective, or a book about the Fourth of July from a Chinese-American perspective.  Some of these are more recent publications, while others are classics that I wish were better known.

This particular series has the distinction of being the longest-planned yet on my blog, being that I had the idea and started gathering and reviewing the books a full year ago.  It was set in motion by a particular incident around the book How Many Days to America?, and originally I planned to share the story when I reviewed that book, but it got too long to include in a review, so here it is now.

How Many Days to America? is the book that got me interested in multicultural Thanksgiving stories.  It’s a rather unusual topic and not the easiest to find books about, yet there are many available.  Thanksgiving Day is a uniquely American/Canadian holiday, but most books about it are rife with inaccuracies and downright offensive to the indigenous peoples whose land was stolen, whose way of life was destroyed, and many of whom were outright killed off when Europeans entered the Americas.

Yet… Teachers are still teaching Thanksgiving in classrooms today.  I even occasionally do a lesson with that theme, with a focus on modern Native Americans to counter the dominant culture a little bit and inform my students.  Every so often a teacher comes to me on library day with a desperate request to read something that will help them meet their learning objectives for the week.  That’s how I came across this book.

A teacher needed me to change my prepared read-aloud to something relating to Thankgiving.  I let her know I would not be reading any of the popular texts that perpetuate disinformation.  She was okay with that, so then I had a few minutes to find something currently in the library before class started.

That particular library is quite small and didn’t have many books on Native Americans, those I would normally recommend were already checked out for the holiday.  So I grabbed this text instead.  It was too heavy for the young class in that day, but it worked out okay, and got me interested in other diverse Thanksgiving titles.  (I also after that time made sure to have one in reserve in case this happened again.)

After keeping a lookout for Thanksgiving books of this nature, I started to notice books about other holidays as well.  Having noticed them, of course I wanted to read and review those too…

And that’s how I ended up down this rabbit hole, and you’ll get quite a few quirky offbeat holiday book reviews this year, as I’ve been doing them for the past year and saving them up!