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Thank You, Omu!

In anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday I read an award winning picture book by Oge Mora, Thank You, Omu! I wanted to share a book about gratitude that wasn’t about a turkey because for some students in our classrooms, their families don’t celebrate with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. And for BIPOC Thanksgiving books, this book was on the list.

In the back matter, Mora states that omu is a Nigerian word meaning queen, which she used for the elderly woman who cooked a delicious red thick stew in her story. The smell wafts out the door, down the hall, and into the streets. Before she can eat, her door is knocked upon by many—first a little boy, then a police officer, then more people from the block, until her soup is all gone. After they all leave, Omu finds there is none left for her. Not to spoil the whole ending, the little boy returns and gives Omu a shiny red envelope. And inside is a handwritten thank you note.

My kindergartners were captivated by this story. It’s a wonderful read aloud, with a repetitious plot that they can chime in on. But in its essence, the story line was simple for them to catch the author’s theme of thankfulness.

After my class returned from lunch, one boy piped up and said that he did something like the little boy in the book. He said “thank you” to the lunch lady who served his food. I was impressed that it touched his heart.

This book sparked a discussion about whom at our school we could write thank you notes to. The students listed their specials teachers, art, music, PE, and also the counselor, the principal, the librarian, the recess teachers, and lunch ladies. So our plan is for them to make thank you cards to surprise them before Thanksgiving break.

As we try to reach all the students in our classroom, I hope you think outside the box this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving, no matter what you eat!

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