November 01, 2008

Native book about Native books

American Indians and NovemberWith a few days left in October, librarians and teachers across the country are (likely) in the midst of planning activities about American Indians. Why? Because that month is "American Indian Heritage Month."

I urge parents, teachers, and librarians to provide children and patrons with books that portray American Indians in the present day. Given that Thanksgiving happens in November, there is strong precedent for doing the "Pilgrim and Indian" theme. Don't do it! You have the opportunity to disrupt the deeply embedded notion that American Indians and instruction about American Indians belong in the past.

The single best resource for you is an excellent book called A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children. It's got critical reviews of hundreds of books that portray American Indians. If you can, get the book from Oyate.
(Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature, 10/26/08.)

Comment:  It's that time of the year again...National American Indian Heritage Month (aka November).

In 2006 and 2007, I highlighted the month and noted a few recommended books. This year, I've reported on a wide range of nontraditional Native-themed books. If you haven't seen anything that interested you, you must not be a reader.

I plan to get a few of these books myself. I suggest you take advantage of the month to learn more about Native people and their culture and history.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Books.


Anonymous said...

I noticed your linked page was a little outdated and I wanted to recommend some works written since 2000 and one that was published in 1997. I just enjoy the book too much not to include it.

I should also note that I am not an American Indian. I am a librarian who attempts to find high-quality literature for her collection. If some of these books aren't acceptable, please tell me!

Cynthia Leitich Smith's Rain is Not my Indian Name and Indian Shoes

Sherman Alexie's Flight and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Richard Van Camp's What's the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?, The Lesser Blessed, and A Man Called Raven

John Smelcer's The Trap

Catherine O'Neill Grace's 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving

Joseph Bruchac's Hidden Roots

Lori Marie Carlson's (ed.) Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today

(Alright, I wrote this up once and it got lost on the internet tubes. In that comment, there was formatting and an attempt at giving all the information you would need to find these books. This listing is not as nice or long because I am frustrated now and have to get on with my day.)

Rob said...

By "linked page," I assume you mean my Indian Books page.

It's true the main portion of that page dates to 2000. But I regularly add the latest book-related postings at the end of the page.

I covered Flight and Absolutely True Diary when they came out because Sherman Alexie is something of a pop star. You can read about him and his work by following the Alexie link.

I haven't said much about the other books because this blog exists to document the intersection of Native America and popular culture. These books are primarily Native-oriented with no little or no crossover to the mainstream culture.

Alas, I don't have time to cover or even mention the hundreds of Native books that come out every year. I leave that to people like Beverly Slapin and Debbie Reese.

But you have a good point about my not listing the best Native books since 2000. If I see a definitive list of such books, I'll try to add it to the page.

Anyway, thanks for mentioning these books. I'm always willing to spread the word about worthy Native books.