Sunday, June 20, 2010

National Aboriginal Day (Canada) – June, 21, 2010

This is a day that celebrates the cultures and contributions of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.

And so, to celebrate, I’d like to highlight a few Canadian First Nations authors that contribute to the canon of children’s literature with wonderful stories that have drawn me in and told me something I didn’t know.

The first two books I recommend are historical:
Shi-shi-etko by Nicola Campbell (823 C1532S PIC BK) about a young girl leaving her home to go to residential school. Over the last few days she takes in all the wonderful details of her home that she loves, the beauty of nature, and her family. This story has a quiet, reflective quality. But there is sorrow, too, which I think as a reader, we layer on, as many of us know that life at residential schools often resulted in irrevocable changes for its students and seldom for the better.  But would children feel the same? Wonderful illustrations tenderly look at Shi-shi-etko’s world. (Suggested for grades 1-4)

My name is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling (823 St458M FIC) is also about the residential school experience.  This is based on the author’s own experiences that introduce us more fully to the hardships and cruelty that was often the norm for Aboriginal children.  (Suggested for grades 5 and up.)

I love Thomas King’s writing and recommend A Coyote Columbus Story (823 K598C PIC BK).  This is a Christopher Columbus story with a twist. Coyote is creator of all things and for the love of baseball she cooks up schemes to find people to play with. Columbus and his crew come along looking for India and stuff to sell, like gold, computer games, videos.  Nothing is as it should be and it gets crazier as the story develops.  The illustrations by William Kent Monkman add a lot to the whole wildness of the story. (Suggested for grades 3 and 12.  Lots to work with.)

Also, check out Dreadful Water shows up and The Red power murders, also written by Thomas King.  These two detective/mystery novels (with another in the works) would be suitable for grades 10 and up.

A contemporary, coming-of-age novel that just crossed my radar is The lesser blessed by Richard Van Camp (823 V2767L FIC).  It deals with a lot of common adolescent issues, school, complicated social scene, love, sex and family trust issues told from the perspective of a Dogrib Dene young man. I don’t usually go for stories with a lot of teenage angst but this one pulled me through with the writing.  (Suggested for grades 11 and up).

PaperTigers  also recently highlighted First Nations writers including lists of favorite children's books, interviews with authors  (including a very interesting one with Richard van Camp - must be read!) and online support resources.

I would also direct your attention to a blog that I recently found
Twinkle's Happy Place,
written by Starleigh Grass, gives us perspective about integrating Aboriginal content into classroom teaching as well as recommending some very worthwhile resources for teachers.


Starleigh Grass said...

Thanks for the props! I recommend Kinnie Starr's Oh Kanada :)

Tammy Flanders said...

Thanks for stopping by, Starleigh. Tammy

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