Saturday, September 03, 2011

Mercer Meyer's JUST ME AND MY MOM

Bummer! (Using that word dates me, eh?!)

Susan Santee-Buenger at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire wrote to tell me about this page in Mercer Meyer's Just Me and My Mom. When my daughter was little, we had--and enjoyed--several of the Little Critter books.

In this part of the book, Little Critter and his mom are at a natural history museum. Meyer is not alone in putting American Indians in natural history museums...  He does, in fact, reflect a reality. Putting us there is a problem! American Indians are often found in natural history museums with the dinosaurs and the bears...  Remember this page from Danny and the Dinosaur

Placing us in natural history museums is a problem! Placing us alongside dinosaurs suggests that is the proper time frame for us to be presented. It isn't. It suggests we are extinct. We are not. It suggests we are primitive. We are not. And, placing us alongside animals suggests we are animal-like, and we are not.

Course, maybe authors could interrupt that problem by having characters challenge the status quo. It would be way cool to have Little Critter or his mom say "Why are American Indians here with dinosaurs and animals instead of in a museum with other peoples?" instead of having Little Critter dress up that way...  Or, to have Little Critter ask a docent "what tribe is this supposed to be?!"  Is that too much to ask for? Is it too didactic?


bonfire of my vanity said...

i just had this conversation with my almost 5 year old last week while we were on a long road trip and passed through several reservations and rancherias in northern california. about tribes and how unique each one is and how american indians are not a lost society that no longer exists. . i really want him to *get* that, you know? that american indians are not extinct, or this homogenous group. as usual, i enjoy your blog immensely. thank you for creating this resource.

Lyn @ Classic Books said...

Interesting book! As a parent, I'd say this must be in our kids' bookshelves.