Text copyright © 2018 by Traci Sorell. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Frané Lessac. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.

For Elementary Readers

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Celebrate community and gratitude with the Cherokee people who reflect daily on the blessings and challenges each season brings with the phrase “Otsaliheliga,” or “we are grateful.”

Apply in the Classroom

The artwork on the first page of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga depicts a tree showing all the way it changes with the seasons. After reading We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, head outside with students to choose and identify a deciduous tree in your community as your gratitude tree. Have students observe their tree every Thursday and make notes and drawings as the tree changes with the seasons. Each “Thankful Thursday” as students take notes about the tree, have them include one thing they are grateful for that week. At the end of the school year, celebrate your gratitude tree with:

  • a gratitude paper chain to decorate the gratitude tree that includes all the things students are thankful for written on the chain links
  • student poetry based on student reflection of all students are thankful for, transforming their tree once again into a “poetree”
  • a reading of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga under the gratitude tree.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

What matters to you? What do you notice about the world around you?

What are you grateful for? Why?

What ways do you show your gratitude?

Why is it important to reflect on both your blessings and difficult times?

What did you learn about the Cherokee and Cherokee traditions and culture? What more would you like to know?

What is a syllabary? Discuss the importance of the Cherokee syllabary today.

Author Traci Sorell

Cherokee Picture Book Shares Lessons of Gratitude for Thanksgiving and All Year Long

Traci Sorell was born and raised in the Cherokee Nation and began writing for children when she noticed a lack of books that feature contemporary Native Americans. NEA Today spoke to Sorrell about We Are Grateful: Ostaliheliga and the lessons it contains.

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