Finding culturally diverse books for children and tweens isn’t easy. Second Story Press from Canada has an excellent and growing selection of beautiful books written by marginalized voices as well as books written in the language of the storyteller. I call that a win-win situation!
I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.
kimotinãniwiw itwâwina : Stolen Words
by Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, and translated by Dolores Sand and Gayle Weenie. Second Story Press. September 2019. 24 pages.
This children’s book breathes beauty in both words and illustrations. A little girl walks home from school with her grandfather, and her simple question unveils a tragic story of what happened to her grandfather when he went to school.
The book, written bilingually in English and Cree, shares the story of a tragic epoch and its far-reaching effects. It’s a must-read for every conscientious parent who wishes to raise children who develop into citizens with a social conscience.
Educators (especially history teachers) and lawmakers should also read this book. In fact, buy one for yourself and another one for your representative. This heartbreaking book by a marginalized voice ends with a note of hope that leaves the reader wanting to know more and do more. The publisher offers teaching helps on line, too.
Second Story Press, a Canadian imprint, leads the way in helping the minority understand what has happened in the past in order to prevent it from happening in the future. It’s too bad imprints in the United States haven’t caught on yet.
Their books also allow the majority to understand that Native Americans and First Nations people had rich cultural backgrounds long before Europeans invaded North America.
Gaawin Niin Ndoo-Gindaaswisii : I Am Not a Number
By Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland, and translated by Muriel Sawyer and Geraldine McLeod and contributions by Tory Fisher. Second Story Press. 2016. 32 pages.
Eight-year-old Irene Couchie can’t understand why she has to leave her family and travel to a residential school far from home. Her loving parents try to explain that the law requires that she and her siblings receive an education. She and two of her brothers get taken by the Indian agent and travel to a boarding school run by nuns.
The siblings get separated, and Irene discovers that no one at the school will call her by her name. They assign her a number. The nuns impose rule after rule on Irene. She struggles to understand their cruelty and learn how to not get punished so that she can make it through the school year and return to her family.
Readers will cheer for Irene as she and her family devise a plan to change their situation. They will also come to understand the grim reality of Indian boarding schools that felt they had a mandate to ‘Kill the Indian to save the man.’
Many people in the United States have no idea that the U.S. Government forced Native American children to leave home and attend boarding schools. The boarding schools often mistreated the children in an attempt to strip them of their language and culture.
I Am Not a Number, the true story of the author’s grandmother, an Anishinaabe woman from Northern Ontario. The tells the story in both English and Nbisiing—a dialect of Anishnaabemwin—Irene’s story is told in the language of her home. A fitting tribute to a woman who suffered under the guise of acculturation.
Who Should Read this Book?
Everyone. Unless we understand the shameful practices of the past, we won’t understand the suffering in the present. The more we know, the more we can advocate for and ally ourselves to marginalized voices. We need to shre this stories with our children to help them develop into citizens who treasure culturally diverse books.Don't miss these two beautiful #ownvoices books from @_secondstory Every #parent, #teacher, and #politician needs to ream them! #firstnations #nativeamerican #history @JennyKayDupuis @mflowrites Click To Tweet
Thank you for sharing these good books with us. I would like to read them, even though I am a little bit older than the intended age range! 🙂
Laurie recently posted…Humble Enough?
I would LOVE a list (like 10 or so) Of middle/low high school level books that increase empathy, cross-cultural understanding and dealing with life! Love your book reviews, I want more!