Six great books for kids to read over summer, when learning is definitely not on their minds. If you can request these books at your local library, that would be great because a lot of books by Native authors don’t make it in library reviews, and librarians can only respond to what readers want. If you want these, librarians will make the magic happen.
Joseph Marshall III’s In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse (Harry N. Abrams, 2015) has a lot going for it. First off, it’s set in the present day. The main character, Jimmy, is Lakota. But, he has blue eyes and light brown hair because his lineage includes people who aren’t Native. That means he gets teased for his looks. In steps his grandpa, who takes him on a road trip. As they drive, Jimmy learns about Crazy Horse, but he also learns that Native people have different names for places. One example is the Oregon Trail. Jimmy’s grandpa tells him that Native people call it Shell River Road. Marshall’s storytelling is vibrant and engaging, and the perfect tone for kids in middle school.
You can’t miss with Arigon Starr’s Super Indian (Wacky Productions Unlimited) stories. She’s got the inside track on telling it like it is. Or, could be, if eating commodity cheese could give you super powers. In other words, every panel of Starr’s comics is a reflection of Native life, and she brilliantly pokes at the uber popular Twilight books and movies, and testy issues like blood quantum. There’s a ka-pow to this super power series (two volumes at this point) that will have you and your kids laughing out loud.
Richard Van Camp’s A Blanket of Butterflies (HighWater Press, 2015) is riveting. This graphic novel opens with a boy who looks to be in his early teens, standing in front of a samurai suit of armor in a display case in his tribe’s museum. That suit is going to be returned to its original owner, but the sword is missing. That launches this fast-paced story in which Van Camp provides us with an opportunity to think about museums and who owns items in them.