November is Native American Heritage Month! In this edition of the Kindness Connection, we highlight three books that teach children about Indigenous Peoples, and include links to additional educational resources below.

“Rez Dogs” by Joseph Bruchac, is a heartwarming story told in verse, about an 8th grader, Malian. Milian is visiting her grandparents at the reservation when the covid quarantine prevents her from returning home. A rez dog, who she names Maslum, becomes her companion and protector. Malian’s grandparents’ stories are interspersed throughout, with wisdom and humor, and address tough topics, such as Indian Boarding Schools, in an honest and gentle manner. The call for kindness to each other, the land, and all living things is encouraged throughout. The age recommendation is 8 to 12 years.

 

“We are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom, honors the tribal nations that are protesting to stop oil pipelines on their tribal lands. The story is a about a girl following in the footsteps of generations of Indigenous women who protect the water. Michaela Goade use of color provides beautiful and vibrant illustrations. At the back of the book is an “Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge” where we can pledge to act with “kindness and respect” to Mother Earth and all her inhabitants. This book is recommended for children ages 3 to 6.

 

“We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know” written by Traci Sorell, is a nonfiction book that is a great tool to begin conversations about Native American history. The book opens with an Indigenous teacher assigning twelve concepts, such as assimilation, termination, and tribal activism to her students to research. The following pages contain each concept, which are succinctly explained in terms of history and legislation. The second half of the book contains vocabulary definitions and a precise chronology of events regarding the twelve concepts and is geared toward an older audience. This book is recommended for ages 7 to 10; however, we recommend that children under 11 be introduced to these concepts with an adult and recommend it for children between the ages of 11 to 13. The illustrations by Frane Lessac provide emphasis to the underlying message, that through it all Indigenous Peoples survive and thrive.

 

Check out these additional resources!
The Library of Congress is host to the “Living Nations, Living Words” project, which features work by 47 Native Nations poets.  You can access the collection here.
The Native American Heritage Month website includes many resources for parents and teachers. Additionally, if you are interested in learning about a tribe in your region many have education departments that can assist you.
IllumiNative is a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the visibility of – and challenge the negative narrative about – Native Nations and peoples in American society. Check out their website for lesson plans and videos.
All year we should lift the voices of Indigenous Peoples, respect their time-honored traditions, and give thanks for their tireless work to protect Mother Earth.

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