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Friday, July 24, 2009

Indian Shoes a Contemporary Story

Smith, Cynthia Leitich.
INDIAN SHOES
New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Interest Level: 4-8, Reading Level 5.2

Genre: Fiction
ISBN 006029532517

The opening paragraphs give a taste of the imagery spiced with humor that flavors Indian Shoes:

“Ray and Grampa Halfmoon traipsed down the cracked sidewalks of a steel and stone city. Ray tracked Grampa’s steps, danced to the rat-a-tat-a-clang of a trash-can band, and skipped beneath the ruffling branches.

“Let’s duck in here,” Grampa Halfmoon began, “and say ‘Morning.’”

When the wind whistled into Murphy Family Antiques, Ray and Grampa whistled in with it. At the welcome mat, Grampa said “Morning” to Junior Murphy.. Ray retied his neon orange shoelaces and took a look around the store.”

In the book, Indian Shoes, Smith gives a glimpse of contemporary life through the eyes of a young Seminole-Cherokee boy living in Chicago. Ray lives with Grampa Halfmoon. She weaves the love of a grandparent and grandchild throughout the six short stories in her book. Smith brings the characters to life with a light touch and a good dose of humor.

I believe this would make an excellent read aloud to share with 4-6th graders. I like the idea of using contemporary literature to set the stage for class discussions concerning the stereotype that Native American Tribes are gone and only existed in the past. This is a great piece to talk about diversity of Native American Tribes and that they have a living and evolving culture.

Teachers might want to pair this book with the short story “Medicine Bag” by Virginia Drive Hawk Sneve from her book Grandpa was a Cowboy & an Indian and other stories.

In the book, Indian Shoes, Ray Halfmoon lives with Grampa Halfmoon.Smith connects 6 short stories weaving the love of a grandparent and grandchild throughout the stories. She gives a glimpse of contemporary life through the eyes of a young Seminole-Cherokee boy living in Chicago. Smith brings the characters to life with a light touch and a good dose of humor.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How to Find Accurate & Authentic Stories

Integrating authentic materials is a critical piece to integrating Indian Education For All into the classroom. There are thousands of books and websites claiming to be Native American stories. A question that most educators ask is "Which ones can I rely on?" Here is an introductory list to help you decide on your selections.

The first site I would like to share with you is Oyate. Their books and resources are authentic and most are written by tribal members. I would like to highlight one of their books in particular: "A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children, edited by Doris Seale and Beverly Slapin, AltaMira Press and Oyate, 2005. This book deals with the issue of cultural accuracy in books for children and evaluates hundreds of books for children and teenagers published from the early 1900s through 2004." - from Montana Office of Public Instruction, materials sent to school libraries.

This is a great resource for reviewing books that you currently use. They often recommend other books that might meet your curriculum goals.

Strengths of the website - Authentic, stories specific to individual tribes, resources to evaluate materials.
Weakness of the website - This site is a little cumbersome. There is no"shopping cart" to easily keep track of purchases. Note-they are hoping to upgrade their current site.