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[Monday Reading] Celebrating Native American Culture Through Picture Books by Joseph Bruchac, John Bierhorst, and Paul Goble


Fats here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! It’s that time of the year to set new reading goals for the coming year.


Here is the sign up page and the July-August linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of The Dark Wild by Piers Torday courtesy of Pansing Books.


Click here to view Myra’s announcement post to learn more details.


It’s not very often that I come across a Native American picture book. I found some titles in our library and I found the others online. What’s interesting was that the books I picked were created by the same authors. I didn’t realize it until I drafted my post for BHE yesterday. I decided to group these books by author and I also included sample pages from the books. The illustrations are breathtaking! Hope you get a chance to read these books! Information about the authors and illustrators were taken from the flap jackets of the books.

Books by Joseph Bruchac

Joseph Bruchac is of Abenaki Indian descent. Three of his works – Flying with the Eagle, Racing the Great Bear, and The Girl Who Married the Moon (co-authored with Gayle Ross) – received the Skipping Stones Honor Award for Multicultural Children’s Literature. He is also the recipient of the Hope S. Dean Memorial Award for his lifetime contribution to children’s books.

Artist Robert F. Goetzel is from New Jersey and his work has appeared in galleries as well as in the Society of Illustrators. He had an exhibition on the lost cultures of Native American life. Many Nations was his first book illustrated for children.

Artist S.D. Nelson is of Lakota (Sioux) Indian descent. He is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. He explains in the Illustator’s Note in Crazy Horse’s Vision that his painting has been influenced by the traditional ledger book style of his ancestors.

bhe171hMany Nations
(An Alphabet of Native America)

Author: Joseph Bruchac
Illustrator: Robert F. Goetzel
Publisher: BridgeWater Books (1997)
Copy owned by: Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library

Here’s another unique alphabet book that can be shared to the young ones. In Many Nations, Joseph Bruchac and Robert F. Goetzel take readers to the rich and beautiful Native American culture. Drawing from his own Abeneki heritage, each letter in this book represents a Native American community. Goetzel’s powerful paintings depict daily activities of the Native American people. This is a good book to introduce children to Native American life.



bhe171jCrazy Horse’s Vision

Author: Joseph Bruchac
Illustrator: S.D. Nelson
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (2000)
Copy owned by: Orrville Public Library
Award received: Parents Choice Gold Award (2000)

Crazy Horse’s Vision tells the story of a young boy named Curly who grew up to be known as Crazy Horse, one of the best-known Native American heroes. Curly had always been different. He didn’t cry when he was born. He grew up to be a strong young man and a good leader to his friends. Needless to say, Curly was also brave. He tamed his own wild horse and hunted buffaloes for people in their camp who had no one to hunt for them. Curly had a heart of gold. His courage was tested when Wasichu settlers passed through Lakota land and set up a fort. Curly wasted no opportunity and rode away from camp in search of his own vision. Later, he would be known as a man who always defended his people, and his name will be remembered forevermore.

Parents and teachers can check out this activity guide provided by Live Oak Media, as well as a classroom guide created by The Active Learner.



Books by John Bierhorst

John Bierhorst is the author-editor-translator of more than 30 books about the Native American people. He has received numerous awards for his works including National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and eight Notable Book award from the American Library Association.

Artist Robert Andrew Parker has illustrated many children’s books and collaborated with John Bierhorst a few times. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Morgan Libary in NYC.

bhe171iThe People With Five Fingers
(A Native Californian Creation Tale)

Retold by: John Bierhorst
Illustrator: Robert Andrew Parker
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish (2000)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Public Library

Californian creation tales were best-loved among the Native American people who lived in the valleys of California before it became part of the United States. In The People With Five Fingers, John Bierhorst tells of an ancient time when the world was created by Coyote and other animals. The Gopher brothers created valleys. The Coyote made small creeks as roadway for the fish. The Eagle’s feathers became bushes and plants. The Black Bear and Grizzly Bear spilled plums and pine seeds on the ground. It was agreed among them that the people will have different colors and speak different languages. When Coyote said that he would print his paw on the soft rock, Lizard slipped up behind him and printed her own hand on the rock so that the people would have five fingers to work on. Eventually, the place was filled with people and the animals scattered about and did not speak since then. This book offers an interesting take on the story of creation.



bhe171kThe Woman Who Fell From the Sky
(The Iroquois Story of Creation)

Retold by: John Bierhorst
Illustrator: Robert Andrew Parker
Publisher: William Morrow & Co (1993)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Public Library

Here is another creation myth retold by John Bierhorst. Unlike the creation tale in The People With Five Fingers, the world was created when a woman fell from the sky. It was believed that before the world was new, there were sky people who lived on a floating island in the air. Out of jealousy, a man pushed his wife into a hole where a tree once stood. Sky people saw what happened so they changed into ducks and locked their wings to cushion her fall. They sky woman was believed to have the power of creation. With the help of her sons, Sapling and Flint, they created the world. This simple but unique story of creation – through Sapling and Flint – illustrates how there are two minds in the universe: one that is gentle and one that is hard.



Books by Paul Goble

Greatly influenced by his adoptive father, Chief Edgar Red Cloud, and other Native American people, Paul Goble has written notable books that celebrate Plains Indian culture. He noted that throughout his works, he tried to reflect the special Indian feeling of mystical relationship with nature. He was named an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by South Dakota State University in Brookings.

bhe171lThe Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

Author and illustrator: Paul Goble
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (1978)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Public Library
Awards received: Caldecott Medal (1979), ALA Notable Children’s Book, NCSS/CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses is an award-winning picture book tells of a young Native American girl’s love for horses. She would get up at daybreak and lead the horses to drink at the river. She knew which grass they liked best and she would tend to a horse if it was hurt. Her people knew that she understood horses in a special way. When she was out with the horses one day, she decided to spread her blanket and lay down. Suddenly, there came lightning and a rumbling that shook the earth. She hopped on a horse and led the other horses away from the storm. When they reached safety, the girl saw a beautiful spotted stallion who told her that he was the leader of all the wild horses who roamed the hills. Will she ever go back to her village again?



bhe171nMystic Horse

Author and illustrator: Paul Goble
Publisher: Harper Collins (2003)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Public Library

Mystic Horse is another horse-themed story written and illustrated by Paul Goble. This picture book is based on an old Pawnee story called The Dun Horse. In this book, a young man lived with his grandmother. They were poor. Their shelter was made up of patchwork pieces of old tipi covers that other people had thrown away. One day, they came upon a sickly horse. The young man told his grandmother that nobody would want the poor horse. He suggested that they take it back with them and take care of it. The other men in the village made fun of the young man for bringing home an old worn-out horse with him. He was ashamed but it wasn’t long until the young man discovered that the horse could talk and that the horse could help him achieve greatness. The horse provided strict rules for the young man to follow, only to be betrayed later on. What will happen to both of them?




Currently Reading…


None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio


Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky



#AWBRead2015 Challenge Update: 59, 60 (35)


What about you, dear readers?
What are you reading?

3 comments on “[Monday Reading] Celebrating Native American Culture Through Picture Books by Joseph Bruchac, John Bierhorst, and Paul Goble

  1. What a great collection of books you have here! Another Native American author I am a huge fan of is Tim Tingle. Canadians who write about more recent First Nation’s history include, Christy Jordan-Fenton, & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. Together they tell Margaret’s story of her time in residential schools. The picture books are When I Was Eight, and Not My Girl, but they have also written short novels/biographies of that time.


  2. Joseph Bruchac is such a diverse author. Thank you for sharing his books and the other books in the collection above.

    Happy reading this week! 🙂


  3. I remember reading Girl Who Loved Horses during my Caldecott reading challenge. I’m still thrilled when someone buys a copy!


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