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Commemorating Native American Heritage Month

Commemorating Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to honor and learn about the history and culture of native peoples across the country. Scholastic Reading Club offers a number of fiction and nonfiction books about Native Americans past and present, both in November and all year long. Here are a few of my favorites.

Island of the Blue Dolphins and Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell

Karana, the last person left on an island after the rest of her tribe evacuates, survives there alone for 18 years. Bright Morning endures earth-shattering changes to the Navajo way of life with resilience and hope. These richly drawn heroines anchor two of Scott O’Dell’s most acclaimed books, both based on true events in the 19th century. O’Dell, who wrote about Native American life many times over the course of his long career, crafted these stories with careful attention to details of time and place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DK Eyewitness Books: North American Indian and Aztec, Inca & Maya

Wonderful photography, easy-to-navigate layouts, and exceptional attention to detail make these two books excellent sources of information about the native civilizations of the Americas.

 

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, wrote this book as a counterpoint to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, which excludes the perspective of native peoples from its picture of pioneer life. Set in the late 1840s, this story about a young Ojibwa girl finding her place in her community during a time of change is full of authentic detail and poetic language that reveals the essential role of nature in tribal life.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Flight by Sherman Alexie

Native American Heritage Month isn’t just about studying the past—it also serves as a window into contemporary Native American life. These two novels by Sherman Alexie, who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in western Washington, take an unflinching look at the worlds of two Native American teens.

 

The books cover themes such as alcoholism, poverty, the enduring weight of history, and the limits and possibilities of tribal identity. Though some readers may find their content and language disturbing, these stories provide invaluable insight into the challenges confronted by many Native Americans today, and I am proud that Scholastic Reading Club offers them to mature readers.

 

Author Bio: Morgan Walker does online title presentation for Scholastic Book Clubs.

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November 7, 2013