Water in Indigenous Children’s Literature

Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

In Lakota language, water is called mni wiconi, literally “it gives me life.” Without water, there would be no life. Water is fundamental for every living being on this planet. Indeed, water, too, is living. Indigenous communities around the globe have always known that protecting and repairing water is essential for our survival. Stories of the the importance of water, its sacredness, and the fight of the water protectors are present in literature for children and young adults.

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MTYT: Squirrel’s Family Tree

By Deanna Day-Wiff, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA, and Kathleen Crawford-Mckinney, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

Trees. They make our world more beautiful and they provide food and shelter for wildlife and keep the soil, water and air clean for us. They decorate front and back yards across North America. Their wood is used for paper and lumber. Wooded areas are preserved for us to hike and enjoy nature. Trees are a necessity and are the theme of this month’s My Take/Your Take. Learn about all of the new children’s books around trees through the perspectives of Deanna Day and Kathleen Crawford-McKinney.

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Indigenous Crossover YA/Adult Fiction

Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

When I taught high school English at a tribal school, the primary class novel I chose was The Round House by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe), winner of the National Book Award for fiction in 2012. Choosing a whole class novel is never an easy task. It should be appealing to everyone (impossible). It should be able to be read and understood by all reading levels in the class (unlikely). It should be important, worthy of lengthy discussion, and worth convincing students that if they just give it a chance, they may like it, and see its worth. Of course, there is also the idea that we shouldn’t read whole class novels at all, allowing students to choose all their own books themselves, thus avoiding the above difficulties. However, for me, there is something deeply pleasurable and vital in having a shared reading experience and community dialogue around this reading.

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MTYT: Trees: Nature All Around

By Deanna Day-Wiff, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA, and Kathleen Crawford-Mckinney, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

Trees. They make our world more beautiful and they provide food and shelter for wildlife and keep the soil, water and air clean for us. They decorate front and back yards across North America. Their wood is used for paper and lumber. Wooded areas are preserved for us to hike and enjoy nature. Trees are a necessity and are the theme of this month’s My Take/Your Take. Learn about all of the new children’s books around trees through the perspectives of Deanna Day and Kathleen Crawford-McKinney.

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Sweeping Indigenous Histories

Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

In Redrawing the Historical Past: History, Memory, and Multiethnic Graphic Novels, editors Martha Cutter and Cathy Schlund-Vials remind readers of a speech that Toni Morrison gave at Portland State University in 1975 where she said, “No one can blame the conqueror for writing history the way he sees it, and certainly not for digesting human events and discovering their patterns according to his own point of view. But it must be admitted that conventional history supports and complements a very grave and almost pristine ignorance.” This year, after teaching a few sections of a course which, in part, is an overview of Indigenous histories of the Pacific Northwest, I have realized that this ‘pristine ignorance’ is sometimes because of a lack of information, and sometimes because of a strong and willful desire to maintain the settler colonial histories learned as children and throughout life. In my work as a teacher educator, I need to assist non–Indigenous adults in learning history through an Indigenous lens before they are able to bring these important histories to their own students. Children’s literature can be such a valuable resource for relearning histories, even for adults.

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MTYT: Wishtree

By Deanna Day-Wiff, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA, and Kathleen Crawford-Mckinney, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

Trees. They make our world more beautiful and they provide food and shelter for wildlife and keep the soil, water and air clean for us. They decorate front and back yards across North America. Their wood is used for paper and lumber. Wooded areas are preserved for us to hike and enjoy nature. Trees are a necessity and are the theme of this month’s My Take/Your Take. Learn about all of the new children’s books around trees through the perspectives of Deanna Day and Kathleen Crawford-McKinney.

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Middle Grade Novels Spotlighting Color-Conscious Casting

Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

Unlike in elementary school and junior high, I wasn’t quite one of the theater kids in high school. I was always on the edges of the theater crowd. A groupie, maybe. But perhaps I just appreciated the kind of personal expression, creative energy and openness that is often a part of the theater crowd. These days, instead of hanging around the drama room, I like to read novels that hang around the drama room.

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MTYT: The Happiest Tree: A Story of Growing Up

By Deanna Day-Wiff, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA, and Kathleen Crawford-Mckinney, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

MTYT September 2019 theme, the importance of trees

Trees. They make our world more beautiful and they provide food and shelter for wildlife and keep the soil, water and air clean for us. They decorate front and back yards across North America. Their wood is used for paper and lumber. Wooded areas are preserved for us to hike and enjoy nature. Trees are a necessity and are the theme of this month’s My Take/Your Take. Learn about all of the new children’s books around trees through the perspectives of Deanna Day and Kathleen Crawford-McKinney.

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Indigenous Authored Books

Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Indigenous authored books for youth being published in the U.S. and Canada have grown from only 6 in 2002 to 38 in 2018. Although having over ten times the number of Indigenous children’s books published is an exciting and promising amount of growth, this number only represents 1% of the total number of children’s books published. This unbalanced number does not reflect the 1.5% of the U.S. population and 4.9% of the Canadian population that have Inuit, Métis, First Nations, and Native American heritage, not to mention the low numbers of Central and South American Indigenous peoples in North America who choose to report as Hispanic without reporting Indigenous heritage.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: B is for Baby

B is for Baby CoverB is for Baby is delectable story begins on the title page where an adorable baby is being cuddled by her mama. The background shows an African village and a boy rocking to music on his headphones. He turns out to be baby’s brother. The adventure starts as baby plays with her toes on the first page with the simple accompanying text – “B is for Baby.” Each page highlights another B word with an accompanying illustration as Baby’s journey takes off. “B is for Basket,” and when baby opens the basket inside are bananas – “B is for Banana.” When baby reaches for a Banana she falls into the basket and the text reads, “B is for Breakfast,” as she peels the banana. Her be-bopping brother comes along, jiving to the music on his headphones, “B is for Brother.” He does not notice Baby in the basket of bananas, which he loads on his bicycle to take to their grandpa. Then “B is for going to see Baba.” Everything along the way that starts with B is highlighted – “Bumpy, Baobab, Big, Butterfly, Bird, Beautiful, Baboon, Bus, Bridge, Bougainvillea, Bungalow,” and at the end of the journey, Baba is surprised and delighted to find baby in the basket of bananas on the back of the bicycle. After a treat of biscuits and a bottled drink, the two siblings return home to Mama’s loving arms. A double-page spread shows in small pictures all the sights along way from the return home. Finally, Mama cuddles her baby again and the text ends with “B is for Baby.” Continue reading