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.

Related Teaching Resources

Classroom and Activity Guide for We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Cherokee Nation choir singing Celebration in Cherokee

Gratitude: A Powerful Tool for Your Classroom from Edutopia

Opening the world through nature journaling: Integrating art, science & Language arts

More Titles to Try

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp

The Circle of Thanks: Native American Poems and Songs of Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac

Gracias / Thanks by Pat Mora

Feeling Thankful by Shelley Rotner

Thanks to the Animals by Allen Sockabasin

Thanku: Poems of Gratitude edited by Miranda Paul

Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes