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Uplifting native literature: picture books by Indigenous voices

Uplifting native literature: 

picture books by 

Indigenous voices

Indigenous voices

Indigenous literature matters!  We need to hear the native voices and let kids see themselves represented in literature.

    We are Water Protectors is written by Carole Lindstom who is Anishinabe/Metis and 
a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe.  It is illustrated by Michaela Goade of the Tlingit (pronounced Klinkit) and Haida tribes.  This book is a New York Times best seller and a winner of the 2021 Caldecott award, which is no small thing.  Water is our most precious resource and when a black snake tries to poison it, the water protector stands up to it.  It's a simple story that kids can understand.  The illustrations are simply beautiful.

    A classic you are probably familiar with is Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard.  He is a member of the Seminole nation.  OK maybe not a was written in 2019.  But I've been using it so long, I thought it was!  It is written in powerful verse.  It is about what fry bread is but also what it represents.  Make sure to read the authors note which gives you further insight into the language and the images shown. 

    I Sang You Down From the Stars is written by Tasha Spillet Sumner who is both Inninewak (Cree) and Trinadadian.  This book is also illustrated by the prolific Michaela Goade.  This is a perfect book to give to new parents. "I loved you before I met you.  Before I held you in my arms.  I sang you down from the stars."  The language is just so lyrical the illustrations are lovely.  Again make sure to read the authors and the illustrators note to gain more insight into the text and illustrations.

    Last one, We are grateful: Otsalihega by Traci Sorell who is a Cherokee Nation citizen.  Frane Lessac is from Australia. Otsalihega (oh-jah-LEE-hay-gah) is a Cherokee word is to express gratitude- "We are grateful". The Cherokee new year begins in the fall and ends in the summer and has many celebrations during the year.  Each page has a Cherokee word, the pronunciation, it is written in the language.  Go here to hear the words pronounced.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about indigenous voices and how to address it in the classroom.

What ways will you teach students about Native American culture?

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Let's talk picture books for SEL

Let's talk picture books for SEL

Social emotional learning is always important but even more so with living through a Pandemic and your world being upended.

Have you read The Good Egg?  It's by Jory John and Pete Oswald. This a really great way to get across the idea of self care.  See, the good egg is veeerrry good.  The egg always tries to be the very best and tries to make every other egg good too.  One day, the egg noticed some cracks in the shell! The doctor said it was the pressure the egg was putting on itself!  So the egg left to make time for itself.  It read books, had massages and went on walks.  The egg finally decided to go home but realized it didn't have to be perfect or make sure any other egg was either. An activity you can do with your kids is "It's up to you."  Give them an outline of a head.  Inside they can write what they have control over: themselves, their thoughts and actions.  Outside of the head, they can write things they have no control over: the pandemic, school closures, parents fighting.  You can only control what you can.

Next up is I Am Enough by Grace Byers. "Like the sun, I'm here to shine."  I love this poetic book about why we should each accept ourselves.  It focuses on loving ourselves, respecting others and being kind.  A great activity to do with kids is Kindness cards.  First we discuss positive personality traits and chart them together.  Then students put blank cards on their desks.  I play music as we walk around.  When the music stops, you put a kind comment on whoever's card you are standing in front of.  Once they are filled, I collect them check that they are indeed all kind and then pass them out to the kids.  They become something they can always pull out to read then they are having a bad day.

    There will be times when you walk into a room and no one is quite like you until the day you begin to share your stories." Last up is The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodsen.  I have to say she is one of my favorite authors: chapter books like Brown Girl Dreaming and picture books like Each Kindness.  She just has a way of reaching in to heart! There are always times where might feel like outsiders but once we share, we realize we have more in common than we realize.  A cool activity is Cross the room.  Students start in the middle.  Then the teacher says something like, "If you've traveled outside the US, move to the left, If not, go to the right."  As the teacher makes more statements "Eaten seafood?" "Ridden a train?"  "Used a hula hoop?", the kids will see they have more in common than they realize.   If you need some more activities, check out my products in my store


Katie, from A Basket Full of Apples, Kelli, from The Beachy Teacher, and I talk about picture books on Tuesdays at 4:30 PST on Clubhouse.  Are you on Clubhouse?  It's an app for the iPhone and you need to be invited to join. Come join us to share your favorite books.  We'd love to bring you on stage to share.  There are so many great reads out there.  Help us discover them!


It's Spring time Let's talk picture books

It's Spring time

Let's talk picture books 

It's Spring!  Flowers are blooming, weather is warming and it's getting greener everywhere I look!  Let's discover some great reads together.

First up is one of my most favorite books! Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.  It's about Miss Rumphius who has an exciting life traveling and working in a library.  OK maybe not everyone's idea of exciting but it is mine!!  When she grows older, she settles down and decides she wants to beautify the world.  She does that by spreading lupine seeds as she walks the town.  They take to calling her the lupine lady.  And eventually the whole town is covered in lupines every Spring.  The Pinning Teacher has some great ideas on her board.  Check her out!

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Knauss is an oldie but goodie.  This little boy plants a seed.  Everyone tells him it won't grow!  But he has faith.  He takes care of it and he waits.  You won't believe what happens!   Why not have your kids create art inspired by the story?  They can use construction paper to create carrots or paint them!

Finally, a book by Kevin Henkes! He's opne of my favorite authors. I just love When Spring Comes, which is illustrated by Laura Droznek.  It is about how the whole world changes when Spring comes.  From darkness to light and color!  It is actually a part of a quartet:  In the Middle of Fall, Winter is Here, When Spring Comes and Summer Song. Spring is a great time to go out and observe.  Take your students out and breathe in the beautiful Spring air!  Maybe even do some meditation.  Then go on a scientific hunt!  What fantastic things can they find?


Katie, from A Basket Full of Apples, Kelli, from The Beachy Teacher, and I talk about picture books on Tuesdays at 4:30 PST on Clubhouse.  Are you on Clubhouse?  It's an app for the iPhone and you need to be invited to join.  I learn so much on Clubhouse every time I listen.  Come join us to share your favorite books.  We'd love to bring you on stage to share.  There are so many great reads out there.  Help us discover them!

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