When I became an official blogger for Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children's Literature, the thing I was most excited about (besides helping to promote great multicultural books of course!) was being matched with one of the sponsors to review a book. I found out that I was being connected with Wisdom Tales Press, and I couldn’t wait to see which book I’d be receiving from them!
Well, my package arrived last week. I tore into it and this was the book inside:
I am always looking for good books that will give us the "other" side of the story in our study of history. As you know, too often in our American and World history books the accounts are written from a White man or person's point of view. I want our children to hear the side of women, of religious minorities, and of racial minorities. I want them to understand the side of the oppressor and the oppressed. I want them to know that our world and what happens in it is not black and white, cut and dry, but is complex and interconnected. I don't want them wondering where the people of color are, nor do I want them to see all people of color as either "barbarians" or "savages" as American Indians are too often portrayed in history, or as helpless victims as African Americans are too often portrayed in historical accounts. I want them to hear the voices of all involved, as often as we can.
So, Custer's Last Battle: Red Hawk's Account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn came to me as a gift. The battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand, was a battle between the Cheyenne and Lakota (or Sioux) tribes and General George Custer and his soldiers along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Eastern Montana during the American Civil War. It was a great victory for the Cheyenne and Sioux, but a victory that would unfortunately prove to be the last in their struggle to maintain their freedom and way of life. In this book, Paul Goble retells the events through a fictionalized character named Red Hawk, a fifteen year old Oglala Sioux. Goble has taken great care in writing this story so that it reflects the stories that he's read from the accounts told by numerous Native Americans. The authenticity of this story is solidified by the forward in the book, written by Joe Medicine Crow, whose grandfather was one of Custer's Crow scouts. At 98 years of age, he has met and talked with many of the survivors of this great battle. The book also includes a map, a detailed forward, and a resource list in the back for further reading.
This was a very good book - well written and illustrated in great detail. It is also an important book, for it tells the "other" side of the story like I want my children, and all children, to know. Thank you, Wisdom Tales Press!
For more information on Multicultural Children's Book Day which is on January 27th, please click on the link. There you will find dozens of book reviews on other great multicultural children's books! MCCBD is being sponsored by Wisdom Tales Press as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, but also by Lee & Low Books, Chronicle Books, and Susan Daniel Fayad, author of My Grandfather's Masbaha.
If you'd like to know more about why and how to teach the perspective of the native people of this country, a teaching resource that I highly recommend for ALL teachers and parents is Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson.
"Why rethink Christopher Columbus? Because the Columbus myth is a foundation of children's beliefs about society. Columbus is often a child's first lesson about encounters between different cultures and races. The murky legend of a brave adventurer tells children whose version of history to accept, and whose to ignore." - summary of the book off of the Rethinking Schools website.