Traci Sorell began writing for young people when she saw a lack of children’s books featuring Native Americans to share with her son. She is an enrolled Cherokee Nation citizen and lives in northeastern Oklahoma where her tribe is located. We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga is her first picture book.
I could not find any picture books featuring modern Cherokee culture or people to share with my son. Given that we're Cherokee Nation citizens, this concerned me. If I couldn't find any books, then other Cherokee parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents must have a similar problem. Then I began to think about what books were teachers, librarians and other educators using to teach children. Everything I found showed Cherokee people and culture prior to 1900 as if we simply didn't exist after that date.
"About" taken from the Charlesbridge fall 2018 catalog.
I hope they experience a few things. First, that the universal value of gratitude can be expressed many different ways. Cherokee people are taught to be grateful for the struggles life brings as well as its joys. Then, I would like them to see Cherokee people, culture and language still exist. Even if textbooks don't talk about the Cherokee Nation after the Trail of Tears, we are still here and thriving. Last, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga makes them curious to learn more about the Cherokee Nation and its citizens.
I have told my child stories and read to him since before birth. Although he can read well by himself, he loves to have me read to him still. It's a wonderful time that we share together. I also take him to the public library where he has his own card and can pick out what he wants to read in addition to the books he gets from his school library.