November 28, 2014

Sacajawea: Her True Story

Today is National Native American Heritage Day and in celebration, I'm reviewing
Sacajawea: Her True Story, the story of Sacajawea.

Sacajawea was a Shoshone Indian/Native American who assisted the explorers Lewis and Clark on their expedition, which was at the request of President Thomas Jefferson. Sacajawea's story is important for children to know, because no matter what negative events came her way, Sacajawea always stayed strong. Her story is an amazing story of courage and strength in the face of hardship, at a time when women had very little rights.

Sacajawea grew up in the Shoshone reservation Northwest of Canada, but she was kidnapped by an enemy Indian tribe as a teenager, and grew up as a captive. She was later bought by a French fur trader named Toussaint Charbonneu, who took her as his wife. Charbonneu and Sacajawea moved to North Dakota where they met Lewis and Clark, who asked Charbonneu to join their group of explorers. Charbonneu joined the group, who became known as the Corps of discovery, but the group of men had to wait until the Spring to begin their expedition. During this time, Sacajawea gave birth to a son named  Jean Baptiste, who was  nicknamed "Pomp."

When Spring arrived, the men set off to explore, but realized that they would need horses to go up and over the mountains. The only horses available on the mountain were owned by Shoshone tribe. Sacajawea was the only one who knew the Shoshone language, and they would need her to translate for them, so with her son on her back, Sacajawea traveled with Charbonneu, Lewis and Clark to Shoshone territory.

Throughout their travels to the Shoshone territory, Sacajawea showed wisdom, courage and strength that the men themselves did not display. She prevented supplies from being lost when their boat was tipped over; she kept her group from drowning during a flash flood while exploring a deep ravine, ans she told Lewis and Clark about peace signs to wear on their face, which allowed Lewis and Clark to communicate with Shoshone women who got the word to their chief that the group wanted to buy horses. Sacajawea did all of this while carrying her infant son on her back.

It is very possible that without Sacajawea and her resourcefulness, Lewis and Clarke may not have survived their expedition. Sacajawea's story is one that both boys and girls can appreciate because it is both a story of adventure, as well as one of bravery and courage. Sacajawea's legend is honored today by a golden dollar coin.

*NOTE: Sacajawea: Her True Story is a Penguin for Young Readers Level 4 book for fluent readers. It has great illustrations and language that is understandable for children ages five years and older. However, for children younger than eight years-old, it is best read by a parent, as the reading level is best suited for children who have fluent reading skills.

Sacajawea: Her True Story
Author: by Joyce Milton
Illustrator: Shelly Hehenberger 

November 1, 2014

Grace for President

Girls rock! Do you agree? If so, you will love the picture book Grace for President, that teaches children not only about the election process, but to be ambitious and believe that they can achieve anything they set their minds to!

Grace for President, begins with an innocent question from a young student and turns into a race for school president!  In school one day, Grace is shown a large poster featuring all of the past U.S. presidents, and she notices that none of them are women. Grace then asks her teacher "Where's the women?" - to which her teacher responds, informing Grace that there's never been a female president, which bothers Grace, who then decides she will run for class president! Grace wants to show her classmates that women can be president too! Besides, how hard can it be? Or so Grace thinks to herself.

The next day, its announced that Grace has an opponent from another class - one who happens to be the Spelling Bee champion, AND captain of the soccer team. Grace realizes running for president won't be as easy as she thought, but she doesn't let it discourage her and presses on, working hard to win the election. She does doing everything from handing out cupcakes to joining the school safety squad and creating a school beautification committee.

Grace for President is an absolute treat of a picture book for many reasons. It's simplistic style of educating children about politics in a way they can understand and can relate to. It's non-preachy lesson, and fun illustrations featuring diverse children of all races and every skin shade. And most importantly, it encourages young girls and children in general to be ambitious through a fun civic lesson that has the reader wondering what will happen next! If you find these ideals important, purchase Grace for President today!

Grace for President
Illustrator: Leuyen Pham
Available at: Teaching for Change bookstores,