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Native American Books & Activities

Books to help you connect young patrons to Native American culture and history.

Arrow to the Sun: A Pueblo Indian Tale, by Gerald McDermott
McDermott's retelling of a Pueblo tale won the Caldecott Award in 1975. Unlike many children's books it has kept its vibrancy over the years. This tale explains how the spirit of the sun was brought down to the Pueblo people.

Patrons can look more closely at the illustrations and use them to describe the inhabitants of each kiva (ceremonial chamber) as he entered and exited. Patrons can create their own sunbursts. Encourage the use of geometric shapes and patterns. Emphasize heat by using "hot" colors (red, orange, yellow). Use paper shapes that begin with a center point and radiate interesting shapes out from the center. Alternatively, use stencils to color in, creating patterns on the rays of the sun.

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, by Tomie de Paola
A young, Plains tribe boy dreams that he will one day be able to paint the vivid colors of the sunset on his buckskin canvas. Little Gopher is encouraged to celebrate his gifts. Tomie de Paola approaches the story with gentleness and care, which enhances the characteristics of this boy as an individual.

Discuss patrons' individual gifts. Using panels from large paper bags have patrons draw pictures of their own special talents. They can use markers or paint. Patrons can also write stories on how it feels not to fit into a group.

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, by Paul Goble
For most people, being swept away in a horse stampede during a raging thunderstorm would be a terrifying disaster. For the young Native American girl in this story, it is a blessing. Although she loves her people, this girl has a deep connection to horses. The storm gives her the chance to live her dream with the wild horses she loves.

Use the Caldecott Award winning illustrations to identify together the plane figures found in the story, particularly the blanket. Define a polygon for the students and have them compare and contrast different polygons. Show the students how to count a figures sides and angles (e.g., a triangle has three sides and three angles).

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