Most of you are probably aware of the year 1492. The year Columbus sailed the ocean blue on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. The voyage when Columbus "discovered" America.
You may not have heard the story from the Native American point of view. This morning I read "Encounter" by, Jane Yolen to the class - a piece of historical fiction that tells the Columbus story from the voice of a young Taino (Native American) boy. From that point of view, Columbus came to the Americas and "discovered" a land that had been inhabited for thousands of years. He claimed that inhabited land for Spain.
After reading the story, third graders were very thoughtful. They said, "You can't discover something that already belonged to someone else!" This in fact is true. Columbus did not truly "discover" America. From another point of view however, Columbus did introduce the New World to Europeans. Certainly a kind of discovery.
Third grade readers questioned whether a man should be honored with his own holiday when he was responsible for enslaving many Native Americans (and many other brutal acts that we didn't discuss in Room 221.) Talk to your child about Columbus. Talk about the story that you learned originally and how your thoughts may have changed. Talk about how stories change depending upon the point of view.