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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Native American Heritage and a dearth of children's books

November 13, 2009

This morning my son was asking me about a movie he saw ages ago called "Hook" (Sony, 1990). It's a Robin Williams film that involves an adult Peter Pan and Captain Hook.

As I was re-examining books on my shelf, I came across a stunning book with the same title but an all together different subject. Hook by Ed Young (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook) is about an abandoned egg that hatches into an eagle.

The chickens recognize this ugly little guy is meant for greater things, and so with the help of an Indian boy, is taken up to the top of a pueblo and gains his wings — and his rightful place in the natural order of things.

Stunning illustrations appear to be pastels and echo images of the West and a people that once lived there. But it's the soaring eagle that that stayed with me. The story is a little like an ugly duckling story, Western style.

And that reminded me the November is Native American Heritage Month — a time to celebrate a living people and their rich heritage. There are terrific resources on Reading Rockets and its sister site, Colorín Colorado as well as from the U.S. government.

But I'd like to see more books by Native people written and available — they are severely underrepresented in books for children and young adults — but I'm flummoxed as to how to encourage it.

Any ideas would be most appreciated.

Comments

I agree. There are not many Native American authors out there. At least not in the main stream. Hopefully I can help to change that. I am Nanticoke Indian and am in the process of sending in a few manuscripts. None of those however are about my heritage. I have one book idea for that but it's still in my head. I'll have to work on that. :~>

My name is Chad Solomon; I am the Grandson of a Traditional Healer and Justice Activist, Art Solomon. With the help of my Elders and co-writer Christopher Meyer, we created a graphic novel series called Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws. It is based on the Native American (Anishinabek) Seven Grandfathers of Love, Respect, Wisdom, Bravery, Honesty, Humility and Truth. To view sample pages of the graphic novels www.rabbitandbearpaws.com/gnovel.php www.rabbitandbearpaws.com/aboutus.php This is the premise of the graphic novel series, Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws the series is set in 1750’s colonized North America and features the comical adventures of two brothers, Rabbit and Bear Paws. The characters are mischievous and the audience learns enjoyable life lessons from their numerous pranks and mistakes. The idea is to have the family - Rabbit, Bear Paws, Clover Blossom and Grey Stone travel to different parts of the country, from coast to coast in new humorous adventures. In those adventures the audience will learn about the different cultures and the gifts that Native American people have contributed to modern society.

Thanks for the links, Chad. The graphic format (comics, to some) are increasing in popularity as they find new and younger readers. It's a neat way to introduce Native cultures.

Hello Maria. My name is Darin Corbiere and I, like Chad, am also Anishnaabe. I am in the process of writing a series of graphic novels called BALANCE. There are four stories in total, based on the legands of the Anishnaabe and the teachings of each of the four cardinal directions. Giiwedinong ( North) is nearly complete, and I am in the process of looking for an agent and a publisher. I have never written before, and have no idea about the work that is required, so any advice would be appreciated.You can see one chapter from each book posted on my facebook page at jcorbiere@hotmail.comPS search for "stories from the little White Bear"on my facebook page. Please feel free to comment - even if it is critical. These are preliminary drawings ( my own and I don't draw)

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