Here's another book to add to your poison pile of inappropriate, misleading Thanksgiving resources (if it's not already there).
I asked my sister where she got the book, and she said the boys chose it from a book fair at their school. I explained to her why I didn't want to read it to my nephews, and she donated it to the library where I work so we can include it on our shelf of "not recommended" kid lit (our main clientele are Metis and First Nations students studying to be elementary school teachers).
I just assumed that a book this bad (it manages to include every single bit of American Thanksgiving misinformation and stereotyping out there; to add insult to injury, the turkey in the book is named Squanto) would have been written in the 1970s or 1980s with all of the other Berenstain Bears books I grew up with, so I didn't give it much thought. As I was cataloging it today, though, I was shocked (well, more dismayed than shocked, I guess, as I'm a regular reader of your blog) to see that it had been published in 2009. And in a series of books called "Living Lights," which professes to "help children learn how God wants them to live every day," no less.
Sorry to go on for so long. Thanks so much for your blog. Reading it has been a big part of my education over the last couple of years.
I read Kim's email and clicked on the link she provided. On that page you can read most of the book.
Well. I have literally been stuck on that "I..." ever since I got Kim's email and looked at the book. I don't know what to say. I'm shocked, and not shocked. I'm surprised, and not surprised. Maybe the right word is disgusted.
They named the turkey Squanto! And they're fattening him up so they can KILL him and EAT him. In the end, he is saved and turned into their PET. Kristina Seleshanko, managing editor of the Christian Children's Book Review, writes on Amazon that:
when Mama calls "Dinnertime!", Sister suddenly remembers Squanto. But she's relieved when Papa points out the window at the pen he's made for the family's new pet: the turkey Squanto. A fine salmon is the center of the family's Thanksgiving dinner and when prayers of thanksgiving to God go round, Sister adds, "And I am especially thankful for my wonderful new pet, Squanto the turkey!" "AMEN!" everyone cries.Amen?! Can you see why this book is problematic? Are Jan and Mike Berenstain that obtuse?! Or do they know perfectly well what they're doing???
Is The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks in your library? If it is, can you move it, as Kim is doing, to a place where it can be used as a teaching tool?
You can also write to Jan and Mike Berenstain at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or directly to Zondervan (the publisher) at email@example.com.
Note: Sunday, March 11, 2012
See the follow-up at Update on Berenstain Bears Give Thanks
You might also be interested in the stereotyping in Berenstain Bears Go to Camp.