LONGMONT, Colorado (Oct. 19, 2016) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has partnered with Debbie Reese, Ph.D., (Nambé Pueblo), to create the Native American Children’s Literature Recommended Reading List and Discussion Guide to encourage a “national read” and discussion about these important Native narratives. Dr. Reese, known for her expertise in the field of Native children’s literature, is an educator and has served on many national literacy boards. She is the editor and publisher of the American Indians in Children’s Literature website.
And with November just around the corner, that means it’s time to prepare to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. In observance, First Nations is launching the #NativeReads campaign that features five books of Native American children’s literature – selected by Dr. Reese – as part of its effort to educate others and share authentic resources about Native histories, cultures and peoples.
“We feel it is important to provide an opportunity for people to learn more about Native experiences from a culturally and historically accurate perspective,” noted First Nations President & CEO Michael E. Roberts (Tlingit). “A core part of our work is to change the narrative on how American Indians are viewed … by making the invisible visible, by actively refuting persistent negative stereotypes, and by shifting the pervasive misperceptions. Education makes a significant difference in breaking down stereotypes, reshaping collaborations and building bridges of understanding in the world today. A great place to start for young people is with Native authors writing about Native America.”
The list of five books are essential reading for young ones in Head Start and preschool, to elementary and middle schoolers. For high school students there is even a Native comic book. The reading list is full of wonderful, culturally authentic stories and illustrations. These are the featured books:
- Wild Berries by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis) – Head Start and Preschool
- Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee (Creek) – Early Elementary Grades K-3
- In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III (Sicangu Lakota) – Middle Grades 4-7
- If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (Onondaga) – High School 8-12
- Super Indian Volume One by Arigon Starr (Kickapoo) – Comics and Graphic Novels
The campaign includes a discussion guide for each of the books. The book list and links to the discussion guides can be found at www.firstnations.org/HeritageMonth2016. The effort also includes “10 Ways to Make a Difference” – a call to action – using the featured books. The full list of recommended reading by age group can be found here. Suggestions include reading one to a child, sharing the list with libraries and bookstores, donating copies to teachers or schools, discussing one in a book club, and promoting the books on social media using the hashtag #NativeReads.
About First Nations Development Institute
For 36 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information about First Nations, visit www.firstnations.org.
Randy Blauvelt, First Nations Senior Communications Officer
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Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer
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