Colonialism is a controversial concept. Although history makes clear its role as an imposed structure that uses destruction as a method of substitution and domination, there are still those who perceive it as a “benevolent act of salvation,” often from a religious point of view.
In one way or another, it is impossible to deny the historical impact that colonization had and continues to have.
It is time to explain to our children the nature of the concept, its impact, and the reality of its consequences. Although it may seem a complex task, many books and programs can help us.
While it is true that the education of our children is largely in the hands of teachers, education always begins at home.
A good way to achieve this is through children’s books. We can read them with them, talk about the most important points and open the conversation while encouraging the habit of reading.
Here is a list of three great books that show the history of colonialism from three different points of view: that of a Native American, that of a settler, and that of a child.
Squanto’s Journey: The story of the first Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
This book tells the story of Squanto, a member of the Patuxet tribe who was taken against his will to Spain and then returned home. He tells of all the things he saw, the tragedies he experienced, and what it was like to be taken captive and lose his family to “the great disease.” The importance of this book is that, besides talking about the origin of the first thanksgiving, it also tells us about colonialism and how it was experienced from the perspective of the oppressed, deprived of their freedom and taken away from their culture.
You Wouldn’t Want to Be an American Colonist! by Jacqueline Morley
This is a fun and interactive book that tells how the colonists lived in Jamestown at the end of the 16th century, how they interacted with the Native Americans, and the critical circumstances of the time, such as famine and drought. It is a book loaded with information (it even has a glossary) and allows our children, guided by our reading, to understand a dark episode in history with some humor and perspective.
Hornbooks and Inkwells by Verla Kay
This book tells the experience of two young brothers, John Paul and Peter, and how their childhood was like during colonization. Without a doubt, this is a reading that children will feel more connected to, allowing them to compare what it was like back then as opposed to what they experience today.