We Are Grateful, Otsaliheliga

I’m feeling very grateful. And I’ve got the perfect picture book to share. Open the cover and be welcomed into Cherokee culture for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

we-are-grateful-hiresTitle: We Are Grateful, Otsaliheliga
Written by: Traci Sorell
Illustrated by: Frané Lessac
Charlesbridge, 2018
Suitable for ages: 3-7

Themes/topics: Cherokee Indians, Native Americans, gratitude, culture

Cherokee people say otsaliheliga to express gratitude. It is a reminder to celebrate our blessings and reflect on struggles—daily, throughout the year, and across the seasons.

Brief synopsis
The Cherokee community is grateful for blessings and challenges that each season brings. This is modern Native American life as told by an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.

Activities and Resources:
Teachers’ Guide
Discussion: What are you grateful for? Why? How can you show your gratitude?
Interview someone from a culture that’s different than yours. Ask about what they are grateful for.
Write about your own special celebrations and activites for each season.
Make a class book with contributions from students for each season.
Compare and contrast your customs with those of the Cherokee Indians.
What can you learn from the illustrations that is not expressed in the text?

Why I like this book:
I am grateful for any book that builds knowledge and understanding of a culture. Traci Sorell takes us inside the Cherokee community and shares celebrations, crafts, history, family traditions, food, games, language, and customs through the four seasons. In the text and illustrations children will no doubt find connections to their own lives as well as differences. While this book is an obvious selection for Native American month or Thanksgiving, don’t wait for a special occasion. Every day can benefit from this inspiration for conversation and this pause for a a few minutes of gratitude.

Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

5 thoughts on “We Are Grateful, Otsaliheliga

    1. Thanks for sharing the book, Gwen, but I don’t need any credit 🙂 A civility project! What a great idea!! Would love to learn more about it! There might be a few more appropriate titles on the blog too – like The Lion Inside, Separate is Never Equal, Grandfather Gandhi. And one that I haven’t reviewed yet is Mela and the Elephant. And there are several new books out about kindness….


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