North American Indians

Book review by
Wesley Sharpe, Common Sense Media
North American Indians Book Poster Image
Book lends itself to child-parent discussions.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, despite unexceptional writing, kids will pore over the colorful illustrations of everyday Native American life. The book lends itself to child-parent discussions, though it lacks a pronunciation guide.

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What's the story?

The media have led many American children to think of Native Americans as a single group. But in this honest portrayal of life in North America at the time of the first European colonization of the continent, the illustrations and text combine to help children understand that each tribe, with its own language, customs, and habits, was a separate culture.

 

Is it any good?

The Gorslines' narrative and illustrations make this a favorite of many children. Kids learn from the pictures and text that Native Americans usually were peace-loving and friendly, and that the lifestyles of different tribes were often vastly different. Primary school children may find the vocabulary too difficult to read, and even older kids may be challenged. Also, the book lacks a pronunciation guide for Native American names, making it difficult to know how to pronounce some words correctly.

But children will enjoy browsing or listening to this as a read-aloud. They probably will enjoy studying and trying Native American sign language, which was used to enable communication among tribes from different regions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Native Americans have been treated by the U.S. government throughout history, and note that the book was written before the term "Native American" became more commonly used/accepted than those like "Indian" and "American Indian." Talk about the different terms -- where did they come from? Why is it best to identify specific tribes when possible?

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