Native American Children’s Books Featuring Coyote

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

Designed for Indigenous people, Coyote represents many different characters or things; not one of them is cute. Coyote is a trickster and all trickster figures are more or less human in Native American literature. Besides being such a fool, Coyote is a supernatural being. While the supernatural powers do not necessarily appear in every story, that background knowledge affirms the Coyote stories. We tend to laugh at many of the messes he gets himself into but we also know what he is capable of. In different ways, his characteristics frequently portray some of our worst human aspects. For him “good” and “evil” are not opposites, but represent a continuum.

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Native American Children’s Books Featuring Animals

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

One of the themes from my studies, animals, derives from Native American children’s books featuring animals and the encountered stories about ethical or moral behaviors contained within them. Many Indigenous American cultures honor and revere animals. The people know that animals came into existence before man and animals have long been prevalent on Mother Earth. When men came, Animals communicated with humans and they still do. Therefore, they are respected; animals are considered Spirit helpers. Each animal has qualities that are special and powerful and shared with human beings if the animal is respected.

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Native American Children’s Books and Foundations of Self-Knowledge

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

One way children can make a connection between history and their own lives is through storytelling that emphasizes self-image and knowledge of one’s own people. The stories of indigenous people, past and present, are important because one must understand the larger context of life to gain perspective on personal experiences. To gain this understanding of perspectives, we must overcome the voicelessness imposed upon generations of Native Americans and draw from deep within ourselves to contemplate our existence, pondering our origin as well as who we are. We must do this both as a cultural group as well as interconnected, yet unique, individuals. The following books tell stories of indigenous children learning about who they are, where they come from, their history, and the relationships and responsibilities that support them as a foundation of self-knowledge.

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Native American Children’s Books on Indian Residential Schools

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

Children today, all children, need to be given the opportunity to understand history, even the parts that illustrate one people’s inhumanity to another people. For this understanding to occur, children need to be able to make a connection between the history being taught and their own lives. Dehumanizing Indian peoples in text and picture, justifying the atrocities committed in the name of “civilization,” presenting Carlisle founder Richard Henry Pratt’s disingenuous propaganda as fact, further adds to the vast body of disinformation being taught about Indian people.

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Refugee and Migrant Narrative in Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

baddawi_coverIn Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq, Ahmad, a struggling young boy raised in a refugee camp called “Baddawi” in North Lebanon, tries to find himself and his identity growing up in a place he cannot call home. His is the story of just one of the many thousands of refugee children born in Palestine who fled or were forced to leave their homeland after the war in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel.
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Refugee and Migrant Narrative in Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

Echo by Pam Munoz RyanEcho by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a poignant story about the journey of a magical mouth harp (harmonica) through time and space. The masterful enmeshing of timeless fairytale and historical reality binds this powerful text into a strong narrative that highlights world events, prejudice, and social class distinctions. It all begins with Otto, who is lost in a jungle and found by three sisters bound by a witch’s curse. Otto promises to break the curse by taking the harmonica out to the world. The harmonica, through its magical music, tangibly joins three children who are separated by place and the curse is lifted, freeing the three sisters.
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Refugee and Migrant Narrative In No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

No Safe Place by Deborah EllisThe plot of No Safe Place (2010) by Deborah Ellis is well-executed. The story follows the journey to freedom of three undocumented immigrant children who struggle to reach the shores of England where a British orphan joins them after he is released from the bounds of an oppressive uncle. These children are: Abdul from Baghdad, Cheslav from Russia, Jonah from England, and the only female, Rosalia, a Romani. The character development is also well-done. Ellis depicts a rich cultural background of the countries and distinct circumstances of each character. This story begins in France, culminates in England and provides a fine description of the traumatic lives many immigrants lead in France.
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Recent Refugee and Migrant Narratives in Picturebooks and YA Novels

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

World populations relocated to varied geographical areas throughout history and time. Such movement contributed to the United States of America and its place of power in the world. The recent significant global impact of large bodies of refugee populations and forced movements of Mexicans and Muslims to U.S., Europe and other Western nations is at the forefront of national and international news and politics. One cannot turn on the TV or visit an Internet or social media site and not find a reference to these emigrating populations.

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STORY in Storying Studio

by Prisca Martens, PhD, Towson University

STORY in Storying Studio is used as a verb as well as a noun. In addition to being a narrative, story/storying as verbs mean to compose by weaving together meanings in writing and art as in picturebooks. Children don’t write and illustrate; rather, they story. Story as a verb refers to the multimodal process of composing meaning in writing and art.

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EXPLORE in Storying Studio

by Prisca Martens, PhD, Towson University

EXPLORE in Storying Studio is a time when children play with ideas and concepts by getting inside of them. They experiment with making meaning as authors and/or artists do, using drawing or concepts discussed in minilessons.

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