I don't know all the books on the list, but I do know two that shouldn't be on any list of culturally diverse books.
Amazing Grace is in the Early Years section of the article. Its selling point is its theme: "we can be anything we want to be." Many find that theme disingenuous. While we want to encourage children to persevere, we also must be mindful of realities. We live in racist societies. Studies show that African American or Latino names, for example, can be the basis on which someone's application for a job or mortgage is denied--unconsciously--but denied, nonetheless. A second problem with Amazing Grace is this image from the book:
That illustration, unfortunately, perfectly reflects several stereotypical ideas about Native peoples.
- She's sitting "Indian style."
- She's holding her arms crossed and away from her chest as shown in countless statues (that's the pose, by the way, that students at the University of Illinois assumed when the now-retired mascot came onto the playing field at halftime to do his "dance")
- She's barefoot. You know that Native people wore shoes, right?
- She's wearing what we might generously call a Plains headdress--the item that shouts INDIAN to the world.
- She's not smiling, because, as everyone knows, Indians don't smile.
- Hiawatha. There was an actual person named that, but the one she's portraying is a character created by a non-Native person.
The second stereotypical book on the list is Tanya Landman's Apache. In its description, the article says:
Following the vicious murder of her brother, orphan Siki vows to become an Apache warrior to take revenge upon her brother, Tazhi's, killers.Page after page, Landman feeds the perception of mindless, bloodthirsty Indians. She sets us up to think this relentless killing is justified by Tazhi's murder, but goodness! It goes on and on and on. For details on problems with it, see the three posts AICL did on it:
- Debbie's thoughts on Tanya Landman's Apache: Girl Warrior
- More on Tanya Landman's Apache: Girl Warrior
- Slapin's review of Landman's Apache: Girl Warrior
I don't know who put the list together for The Guardian. The problems with these two books are blatant. Or, they should be! That they're not is an indicator of how much we have yet to do with regard to Native imagery. I'll tweet my post to them and others who are tweeting/retweeting it. Please share it with others in your networks.