Read This Book

Read This Book: WE ARE GRATEFUL: OTSALIHELIGA by Traci Sorell and Franâe Lessac

Welcome to Read This Book, the newsletter where I recommend a book you should add to your TBR, STAT! I stan variety in all things, and my book recommendations will be no exception. These must-read books will span genres and age groups. There will be new releases, oldie but goldies from the backlist, and the classics you may have missed in high school. Oh my! If you’re ready to diversify your books, then LEGGO!!

Friday is Native American Heritage Day, designated as a day to honor and pay tribute to America’s indigenous peoples and their many contributions to the United States, so today I’m recommending an informative and award-winning picture book about the Cherokee Nation.

We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga Book Cover

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and Franâe Lessac

We Are Grateful is a look at modern Native American life from the perspective of a Cherokee National citizen. The word “otsaliheliga” is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Follow a full year of Cherokee celebrations and experiences from the beginning of fall to the end of summer and learn what makes the Cherokee people feel grateful.

One of the immediate standouts for me about We Are Grateful was the focus on present day life of the Cherokee people. They live similarly to their fellow Americans by playing in the leaves during Fall, building a snowman in Winter, or gathering around the table with family to enjoy a good meal. They also observe their own traditions like enjoying the first harvest at the Green Corn Ceremony or commemorating the Cherokee National Holiday. 

I also appreciated the continued education of the Cherokee way of life at the end of the book. In addition to the author’s note, there are definitions and further explanations for some of the Cherokee culture and heritage highlighted throughout the story. Along with that, there is the Cherokee Syllabary to help readers better understand the language. 

The absolute best thing about We Are Grateful was the immersive experience of reading the ebook with narration. While the narrator read the story, the reader hears sounds associated with the book’s activities like ceremonial dancing and children playing stickball. 

Tomorrow, many Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving, but for many Native peoples it is the National Day of Mourning because Thanksgiving is just a reminder of the genocide of their ancestors. We must leave behind the lie of “Pilgrims and Indians coming together for the First Thanksgiving” by learning the actual history of our indigenous population. Reading We Are Grateful can be a small first step.

Until next time bookish friends,


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