By Smarty Guest Blogger Erin Holmes, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
“This month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges” says the National Congress of American Indians. These are important words that we all must take to heart.
In recognition of this important month, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides resources and books to honor the contributions of Native American authors and storytellers. From books that share the author’s own experiences and history to re-imaginings of traditional tribal tales, there is so much to celebrate and learn through the traditions and histories that each of these stories provide. Below are a few recommendations to get you started! (All photos from goodreads.com.)
“Thunder Boy Jr.” by Sherman Alexie
With a story from award-winning author Sherman Alexie and illustrations from award winner Yuyi Morales, this sweet picture book not only examines the relationship between father and son but also celebrates the value of a name and how it can celebrate both a family heritage and history as well as the unique qualities that make us who we are. In addition to the lovely illustrations and engaging story, the author’s notes also provide their own opportunity for education and discussion.
“Rabbit’s Snow Dance: A Traditional Iroquois Story” by James & Joseph Bruchac
In this modern retelling of a traditional Iroquois story, the dynamic Native American storytelling team of James & Joseph Bruchac, tell the story of a long-tailed rabbit who wants a nibble of the highest, tastiest leaves and uses his special snow song in the summertime, despite the protests of the other animals. In addition to the story’s message about patience, the seasons, and listening to your friends, the stunning illustrations are sure to capture the reader’s attention as well.
“Jingle Dancer” by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Ages: Early Elementary
Jenna, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared by generations of women in her family. Jenna is looking forward to her own chance to dance at the next powwow, however, she’s nervous that without jingles her dress won’t be able to sing like her grandmothers did. The author, also a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, not only celebrates the custom of the jingle dance in her storytelling but also provides an author’s note and a glossary that tell more about the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the jingle dance tradition and its regalia.
“Two Roads” by Joseph Bruchac
Ages: Upper Elementary
In 1932, twelve-year-old Cal must stop “riding the rails” with his father and go to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, where he begins learning about his history and heritage as a Creek Indian. This middle grade novel provides a look at a very real time in Native American History and provides opportunities for readers to relate as Cal struggles with self-identify, family, belonging and friendship.
“This Land Is My Land” by George Littlechild
Ages: Upper Elementary
In this autobiography, George Littlechild uses text and his own paintings to describe the experiences of Indians of North America in general as well as his experiences growing up as a Plains Cree Indian in Canada. Littlechild’s stunning artwork and storytelling, make his experiences come alive providing opportunities for discussion.
Looking for library events celebrating Native American Heritage Month? Make sure to visit our Myers Park location on Monday, November 25, 2019 from 6:15pm-7:00pm for a special Native American Heritage Month Story Explorers program. Participants will explore books that celebrate the history and traditions of Native Americans, play a fun game, and make something to take home.