November 6, 2015

We are the Many: A Picture Book of American Indians

It's Native American Heritage Month and in honor of the many contributions of that countless Naitve Americans have made, I am reviewing We Are the Many: A Picture Book of American Indians.

Have you have heard of Sacajawea, the woman who is now on the gold one-dollar coin? Perhaps you know or have heard of Wilma Mankiller, the first female Native American Chief of the Cherokee nation. But I bet you haven't heard of the first Osage Native American ballerina Maria Tallchief or the Dakota artist Shumka-Ishnala aka "Lone Dog," or how about the 420 code talkersNavajo Native American soldiers who helped defeat the Japanese in World War II. These and more notable Native Americans are highlighted in We Are the Many: A Picture Book of American Indians.

One of my favorite people featured in the book are Tisquantum aka Squanto, one of the Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive a sickness that was killing off hoards of people. He taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn with fish, and how to catch fish with tall, thick grass that was weaved into fishing nets. The pilgrims thanked Tisquantum by inviting him and other Native Americans to a feast, now known as Thanksgiving.

We Are the Many: A Picture Book of American Indians is a wonderful historical picture book that every child should read, as many of these figures - if not all, are rarely depicted in U.S. history books. The book also provides a small pronunciation guide at the end to help readers practice the correct pronunciation of Native American names. It also provides a reading list for young readers so that children can continue their learning about Native Americans.

The best part of the book is that it doesn't just state facts, it tells a  personal story about each person profiled. It tells of how Susan La Flesche Picotte, a doctor from the Omaha nation struggled by horseback in a snowstorm to reach a child with pneumonia. These and more personal stories are told in the book. Others profiled in We Are the Many: A Picture Book of American Indians are Olympian Jim Thorpe, writer Sherman Alexie, and the Conley sisters of the Wyandot nation - lawyers who helped to keep a Wyandot cemetery in Wyandot control. If you value the contributions made by Native Americans, this book is a must read for the children in your life.

Written by Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by: Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu

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