A Sampling of Native Authors

November is National American Indian Heritage Month, and we have been reading books by Native American authors.  Here are some picture books, children’s chapter books, and poetry to try:

Code Talker

Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac

This is a story about the Navajo Marines during World War II who used their native language as a code that could not be broken by our enemies.  -Ms. Cathy

Grandpa's Girls

Grandpa’s Girls by Nicola I. Campbell

A girls describes a family visit to grandpa’s house and what she and her cousins do there.  The story has a nice mixture of images that are universal (“when our moms and aunties are together, they laugh so long and so loud that sometimes they get the snorts”), culturally specific (“The yuxkn is a small log building…  It’s a storage shed now, but a long time ago my grand-auntie lived there…), and personal (“The walls are covered with photographs of family and rodeos…Grandpa’s army regiment…and Yayah, young, with a beautiful smile”). -Ms. Sarah

Holler Loudly

Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Barry Gott

Holler Loudly is a very fun picture book about a boy who was born very loud.  His parents called him Holler.  He comes from generations of other loud men in his family. As he grows, the town that he lives in becomes very aware of how loud he is!  He is so loud that eventually the town won’t let him go to school, or go fishing, or even go to the movies.  Holler becomes very frustrated until one day he hears music from a quartet. He learns that quiet times can be good times too, especially when there is beautiful music playing.  As the music was playing, when all was quiet, a tornado appeared! Holler then learned that there are also times when he needs to be loud!  He yelled so loud that he whooshed all the townsmen off their feet and into safety.  Then he began to yell at the tornado, but the tornado persisted.  Holler then took a big breath and yelled as loud as he could at the big gust of wind to GO AWAY!  The tornado listened and disappeared.  Holler saved the town!  He not only became a hero but he also learned a valuable lesson about listening.  -Ms. Ashley

Indian Shoes

Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Ray Halfmoon, age 12, lives with his Grampa Halfmoon in a red-brick bungalow in Chicago.  His parents were killed in a storm in Oklahoma.  Ray and Grampa go to Cubs games and eat hot dogs, take care of the pets of out-of-town neighbors, and participate in a family wedding.  Ray trades his hightops for a pair of authentic moccasins for Grampa, and Grampa teaches him the art of fishing in the very early morning in Oklahoma.  This short novel is a heart-warming depiction of a close family relationship.  -Ms. Nancy S.

Shinchi's Canoe

Shin-Chi’s Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell

Shin-chi’s canoe is a story about two Native American children who are sent away from their families to be educated in a government-sponsored, church-run residential school.  Shi-shi-etko is Shin-chi’s older sister and she has already been in school for a year.  She tells him what to expect and how to behave at the school.  The months at school are filled with lessons, hard work and hunger and the little boy feels lonely and is missing his family.  He is not allowed to speak to his sister.  He finds some solace by going down the river and letting go on the water a toy from his father.  The children are looking forward to reunite with their families at the beginning of the summer a time marked by the return of the sockeye salmon in the river.  The author of this book is a descendent of Interior Salish and Metis.  Her mother and grandfather attended residential schools.  The illustrations of the book are inspired from archival photographs and discussions with elderly people.  -Ms. Andreea

Songs for the Seasons

Songs for the Seasons by Jamake Highwater

This poetry book takes the reader from one season to another with delightful pictures and text.  -Ms. Cathy

When the Shadbush Blooms

When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger

This is a great story of the Lenape Culture told in two stories of the Traditional Sister and Contemporary Sister.  The illustrations by David Kanietakeron Fadden are beautifully done showing nature how it was then and now.  The Lenape culture glossary in the back on the story brings the history of the culture into the story.  -Ms. Nancy L.

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