Sunday, February 23, 2014

American Indians in Children's Literature--on Tumblr!

I've done few posts this month (February 2014) because I've been participating in a month-long discussion on CCBC-NET on multicultural literature and because I've been playing with Tumblr. The CCBC-NET discussion has traveled along familiar territory, with people assuming that my preference for literature by Native people means that I don't think non-Native people should be writing books about us, and assumptions that African Americans don't want people who aren't African American writing books about them either.

Though that perception is out there and gets circulated a lot, it can be quickly batted down if one pauses to think about some of the books I recommend: Debby Dahl Edwardson's My Name Is Not Easy. Debby is not Native. Joseph Bruchac's The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale. Joe is not Cherokee.

That said, my preference is books by Native writers because when a parent or teacher or librarian recommends them, they can use present tense verbs in the recommendation. This will increase visibility of Native people as part of today's society. They could, for example, say "Tim Tingle is Choctaw. His book, How I Became A Ghost, is set on the Trail of Tears. Members of his family were on the Trail of Tears." And--they could say "The Choctaw Nation has a website, and so does Mr. Tingle. He's pretty cool... He's on Twitter, too!"

There have been some very eloquent posts to the CCBC-NET discussion that sought to bring clarity and context to it. If you're not currently a subscriber to CCBC-NET, you can join anytime and read the archived discussion.

Online, you can read what Cynthia Leitich Smith wrote about it at Cynsations. Her post, titled "Writing, Tonto & the Wise-Cracking Minority Sidekick Who Is the First to Die" is full of terrific information. Reading it, I was thrilled to learn that she's introduced a Native character in book 2 of her Feral trilogy. The first book is Feral Nights. It, and book two, Feral Curse, are getting bumped up on my reading list.

A few years ago when Tumblr started gaining traction, I created one for AICL but hadn't done much with it at all. I am taking a little time of late to develop it. It is a new thing for me, and because it is new and not very deep, I'm willing to play with the HTML code a bit. A bit. A tiny bit. This morning I added a date/time stamp and, hurray! It worked. Here's a screen capture of my latest post:

If you're on Tumblr and want to see what I'm doing, here's my page: If I'm not doing something right over there, let me know!