by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
I was a young child when I started writing thank-you notes.
It could have been my somewhat obsequious personality, a demanding grandmother who really wanted her gifts acknowledged, or just a plain old-fashioned 1960s child-raising strategy, but whatever—from a young age, I was hardwired to craft a good thank-you note.
Choosing the note card (or even using personalized note paper, which was a huge novelty in my childhood), picking out the perfect pen, and even writing several drafts of my notes all go into my gratitude-expressing process that lives with me today.
(And while these days I do write email thank-yous because they are efficient and immediate, they still don’t feel quite the same to me. Although emails don’t require the person being thanked to decide whether they have to keep my note or not—which is always a struggle for me, as I shared in this post from Valentine’s Day a while back.)
Not everyone in my life writes thank-you notes. My husband, a grateful guy in his own way, isn’t a big fan of the actual note-writing process. But he does come up with meaningful and thoughtful gestures and small gifts—and grateful emails—to express his thanks.
The hundreds of thousands of teachers I work with in my job at Scholastic Book Clubs are overall a very grateful group. I get many, many heartfelt and creative thank-yous every day from teachers (and their students) all around the country who are grateful for the books, resources, and support for their class that they get from Scholastic Book Clubs.
It seems to me that teachers are also grateful for the opportunity to make a real, lasting, critical difference in the lives of their students. And, of course, it is all of us who should be eternally grateful to teachers for choosing to do this life-changing work.
(Choosing that holiday or end-of-year gift for my kids’ teachers was always a fun and challenging exercise. In the end, a gift certificate to buy books with a heartfelt note from my kids always trumped soap and candles.)
David Vozar and I have worked side by side for decades, and among the many things we share is a deep sense of gratitude for our own teachers:
As we get ready to celebrate Scholastic’s 100th anniversary beginning in January 2020, I want to take this opportunity to express gratitude to some of Scholastic Book Clubs’ partners who are all dedicated to helping kids discover the joy and power of choosing and owning their own books:
Book Trust: An inspiring early-literacy national nonprofit organization dedicated to giving every child the opportunity to discover the joy and power of reading to create limitless possibilities. Book Trust’s classroom-based program engages students in high-need elementary schools to choose and own their own books, cultivating literacy-rich communities. For many of these students, these will be the first books in their homes. Learn more.
Pajama Program: A nationwide nonprofit that is dedicated to providing children in need with their own pair of cozy new pajamas and a brand-new book. Your kids can help these children by participating in the 11th Annual PJ Drive. Learn more.
James Patterson Partnership: Scholastic Book Clubs is thankful for bestselling author James Patterson’s generosity. For the past five years, we’ve teamed up with Mr. Patterson to provide teachers across the country with grants to fill their classroom libraries with books. Learn more.
We wanted to find just the right Book of the Week to help extend and amplify the message of gratitude. And so the Book of the Week is We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga written by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frané Lessac.
It is a perfect expression of gratitude and a beautiful introduction to Cherokee culture and language that can be read and enjoyed in every classroom.
“A gracious, warm, and loving celebration of community and gratitude.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Traci Sorell, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, takes readers through a full year of Cherokee traditions and celebrations. Along the way, she teaches us a few words in Cherokee, such as otsaliheliga, which is a word used to express gratitude.
We also created exclusive resources and videos to help you introduce your students to We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga:
• The Book Boys discuss their takeaways from the book.
• Kindergarten teacher Arielle Rosenstock shares how to use vibrant pictures as an entry point for teaching about new cultures in Book Talks.
• Author-and-illustrator duo Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac tell us about the inspiration behind We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga in Behind the Scenes.
• We teamed up with Adrienne Smith, manager of the imagiNATIONS Activity Center at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, to create a classroom activity in Cooked Up from a Book for students to share their own seasonal traditions.
As always, I am incredibly grateful for the work teachers like you do to help get books into the hands of children everywhere. I hope you and your students embrace the message of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs