• Sarah Tobias

Giving Thanks: Perfect Picture Book Friday


Title: Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

Author: Chief Jake Swamp

Illustrator: Erwin Printup, Jr.

Publisher: Lee and Low Books, 1995


Ages: All


Themes: Earth, Poetry, Native Americans, Peace, Thanks


Opening Lines:

To be human is an honor, and we offer thanksgiving for all the gifts of life. Mother Earth, we thank you for giving us everything we need.


Today's picture book comes from a culture that I can't claim as mine, but one that I admire and strive to learn from and practice their values and relationship to Mother Earth in my life.


Why I Love This Book:

This poem / prayer serves as a simple reminder that we need the earth to survive. It reminds us that each of us is just one of many human beings living on the planet. We share this earth with the animals, waterways, plants, and weather. We are all connected. Without one, we do not have the other.


This book is a prayer to save the planet in order to save ourselves.


This prayer is a call to action.


It is a call to peace.


Wishing you Peace, joy, and the treasures that can be found around you each day.


Give Thanks. Spread Peace.


Activities and Resources:


I have been digging deeper to understand our history in this land we call the United States. I am currently reading An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese. I have also purchased Kate Messner's History Smashers: Mayflower. This new series seeks out the truth and fiction of the history we were taught and lays it out with evidence, and research including primary resources. I recommend diving to learn and understand our history from different perspectives and with an open-mind.


Make simple birdfeeders and hang them from a tree near you.

You can use just peanut butter or you can make a mixture of 1 part lard, 1 part peanut butter, and 1 part corn meal. Pinecones are falling from trees this time of the year. Pick a few up when you see them on your walk.


Pick up garbage you notice while out on a walk.


If you celebrate Christmas, maybe this is the year to buy a living tree. If you have room in your yard or maybe your local park could use an extra tree., this is a fun way to create memories and help the earth. Many Home and Garden stores have them available. You will want to dig the hole for the tree now so that after Christmas you can plant it on the ground.


Learn more about Chief Jake Swamp, the Tree of Peace, and Erwin Printup, Jr.


Companion Books:

If We Were Gone by John Coy

Our Ocean Home by Robert Lyn Nelson

Click on the Indigenous People Category at the top to find more beautiful books by and about Indigenous Peoples.


To learn more about which Native American books are valued by Native peoples and which ones are problematic (including why), check out Debbie Reese's blog. I head there when I am looking for books to read or when one pops up in my social media feed, and I want to know if it has cultural value.


Click Here to order a copy of this book.


Check out Susanna Hill's blog for more Perfect Picture Books

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