Monday, March 07, 2016

Debbie Reese at Northern New Mexico College on March 9, 2016

I'm looking forward to time I'll spend with students in the P'ôe Project at Northern New Mexico College. If you're nearby, I hope you'll come! My goal in this lecture is to talk about what children are taught in schools. In textbooks and in children's literature, we tend to see the same problems: factual errors, bias, erasures, and missed opportunities, too. 

Take, for example, a very popular series called Geronimo Stilton. One of them is in Scholastic's Arrow (4th-6th grade) flyer for February 2016. The book is Geronimo Stilton's Race Across America. It is a good example of erasure.

In it, Geronimo visits Arizona. Those of you with knowledge of Native people know there are a lot of Native people in Arizona, but there aren't any in Race Across America.

I understand that it might have not fit with the story to include Navajo people for Geronimo to interact with when he's on Navajo lands, but throughout the book, there are pages that provide information that doesn't have much to do with the story. In Race Across America, Geronimo and his bike racing team fly to the West Coast aboard a large plane. In that part of the story, there's a page about exercises anyone can do to stretch their limbs when flying. You see these exercises in the airline magazines. They're the kind people should do to avoid thrombosis.

So--why not include something about the Navajo Nation and sovereignty rather than pages about Westerns that were filmed in Monument Valley?

I'll be doing a review of Race Across America later.

Scholastic publishes the series. It also provides teachers with lesson plans to use with the books. Here's a screen capture of one:

Books like this are popular, but what are they teaching Native and non-Native kids? And, what can we--whether we are parents or teachers--do about this? My lecture includes a what-to-do component that includes the #StepUpScholastic campaign. Some publishers listen. I think Scholastic is one that does. If you're in Northern New Mexico Wednesday evening, please join us! 

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