Thursday, August 10, 2017

Top Ten for Ten – Indigenous children’s literature

I love this event. #pb10for10 is such a great way to see what teachers, librarians and others who use children’s literature are reading and teaching with. I always collect a large number of titles from these lists and sometimes, new ideas about using the books, too. 

The premise is to list your 10 best picture books. These can be the 10 picture books you love most in the world. Or the 10 best picture books connected to a specific topic. Or it might be the top 10 authors of picture books. Or any other top 10 theme you might want to create.

I encourage everyone to visit and browse through these lists.

Last year I created four Pinterest boards that support a course in the education undergraduate program focusing on First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. One of the assignments has students evaluating children’s literature. The Pinterest boards lists books for different grade levels for both fiction and nonfiction.

And, so here’s my list for this year’s Top Ten on the Tenth Event.

A Coyote Columbus Story by Thomas King, illustrated by William Kent Monkman
This is not your typical Christopher Columbus story. It presents a native perspective about the arrival of Chris with Trickster Coyote responsible for the whole terrible mess. She only wants to have some people to play baseball and instead creates a group of greedy, ill-mannered thieves. Very interesting illustrations. The book can be used with younger grades but I think older students will have a rich opportunity for deconstructing it.

I am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland 
This picture book is based on the author’s grandmother’s experiences in a residential school where she endured many horrific hardships. Recommended for upper elementary grades.

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
This book demonstrates a wonderful sense of community of support as a little girl from the Muscogee Nation looks to create a dress to wear for a jingle dance. Family and friends all contribute jingles from their own dresses to help Jenna. Recommended for early elementary grades.

Mwakwa Talks to the Loon by Dale Auger 
Mwakwa is a skilled hunter who provides many essential supplies for his village. But he becomes conceited after receiving much praise from the other villagers and loses his ability to talk to the animals he has always hunted. This traditional story speaks to the importance of being humble about one’s abilities and respectful of the sacrifices others make for the greater good. Recommended for elementary grades

Orca Chief by Roy Henry Vickers 
I am a big fan of this illustrator’s work. In this traditional story, we learn about respecting nature. When a group of men are careless about how they treat the ocean the chief of the orca whales teaches them how to sustainably harvest food from the ocean. It's about being respectful and thankful for what the earth provides us. Stunning illustrations with Northwest Coast aboriginal motifs.  Recommended for elementary grades.

Based on the author’s grandmother’s experiences facing adversity and racism, this picture book shares a unique perspective about resiliency. Recommended for elementary grades.

Secret of the Dance by Andrea Spalding 
A boy sneaks out one night to watch a potlach, a ceremony forbidden by the Canadian government. Those involved risk arrest, confiscation of artifacts and even their children by participating. Recommended for elementary grades.

Thunder Boy by Sherman Alexie 
This one is all about identity, individuality and wanting to be recognized for one’s own abilities. Little Thunder is named after his father which he finds frustrating. He wants a name for himself that acknowledges who he is. Yet, at the same time, he worries about hurting his dad’s feelings. Recommended for primary grades.

What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?By Richard Van Camp, illustrated by George Littlechild 
When you live in a small village where horses are not all that prevalent, how would you describe one? One cold day when there is nothing better to do, a young boy asks different family and friends what they think about horses. The illustrations are a really strong element in this picture book. Recommended for primary grades.

Wild Berries by Julie Flett 
What could be better than being outdoors picking wild blueberries with your grandmother? For this boy, exploring the forest and observing wildlife, it’s an enjoyable and educational experience. Swampy Cree words are included identifying the various things that the pair see.  Recommended for primary grades.


Linda B said...

Beautiful list. I've seen some of these on other posts from Canada (in the past) and have read some, like Jingle Dance and Salty Pie. I may need to purchase I Am Not A Number. It's still not available at my library! Thanks for sharing.

Sandi said...

Thank you for this list. It is important to me that my First nations students see themselves and their culture reflected in the books on our classroom shelves.

laurasalas said...

This looks like a great list. I know Jingle Dancer, but that's it. I heard a beautiful interview with the author of When We Were Along (have you seen that book?) a month or two ago on, I think, the All the Wonders podcast.

Tammy Flanders said...

Hi Laura. Thanks for your note. I hadn't seen David A. Robertson's book, When We Were Alone until this morning! It has only recently come into the Doucette Library. It is wonderful. Also, thanks for the heads-up about the podcast, I just finished listening to that as well.

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