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November 2018 Selections

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This month, we’re recognizing historical and modern indigenous perspectives in North America. Our selections this month were chosen with the utmost care and with the intention of honoring the cultures of indigenous groups. We chose to read about the incredible struggle of indigenous populations at the hands of colonization and oppressive governments because indigenous cultures have been made “other” in a place that has long been their home. There is so much to unpack when it comes to the history of indigenous cultures in North America — our team went through an unusually lengthy and intense preview process for this month’s selections, and we’re happy to report that each of our selections was written by an #ownvoices author. (If you’d like to know more about our selection process, our founder, Madeleine, is sharing an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek with our Patreon supporters.) We hope you choose to read along with us this month, and we can’t wait to discuss these titles with you.

Make sure you check out our Calendar throughout the month to keep up to date on our discussions and more -- November discussion dates will go up towards the end of this month!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you choose to purchase a book through an affiliate link, the DBC is granted a small commission at no additional cost to you. These commissions help to offset the cost of operations. Thank you!


A Note From Our Team:

This title was personally chosen by our DBC Founder, Madeleine, for the month of November and has also been highly rated by our DBC VIPs and Goodreads reviews (with an average rating of 4.54). Though non-fiction can often feel intimidating to readers, this was a non-fiction reading experience that Madeleine would recommend. The narrative style of the book made for accessible reading, and the story itself was incredibly compelling with an overview of both historical and modern indigenous experiences. Our team has some concerns that this book may not be widely available in library systems. If you library system does not own this book, please submit a request for them to purchase it. Our DBC team believes strongly that this book deserves to be in the hands of more readers.

From the publisher:

In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called for and four recommendations were made to ensure the safety of indigenous students. None of those recommendations were applied.

More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home because there was no high school on their reserves. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the -20° Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau’s grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang’s. Robyn Harper died in her boarding-house hallway and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie’s death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water. But it was the death of twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack that foreshadowed the loss of the seven.

Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against indigenous communities.

Trigger Warnings: violence, death


From the publisher:

Nineteenth-century American pioneer life was introduced to thousands of young readers by Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House books. With The Birchbark House, award-winning author Louise Erdrich's first novel for young readers, this same slice of history is seen through the eyes of the spirited, 7-year-old Ojibwa girl Omakayas, or Little Frog, so named because her first step was a hop. The sole survivor of a smallpox epidemic on Spirit Island, Omakayas, then only a baby girl, was rescued by a fearless woman named Tallow and welcomed into an Ojibwa family on Lake Superior's Madeline Island, the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. We follow Omakayas and her adopted family through a cycle of four seasons in 1847, including the winter, when a historically documented outbreak of smallpox overtook the island. 

Readers will be riveted by the daily life of this Native American family, in which tanning moose hides, picking berries, and scaring crows from the cornfield are as commonplace as encounters with bear cubs and fireside ghost stories. Erdrich--a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa--spoke to Ojibwa elders about the spirit and significance of Madeline Island, read letters from travelers, and even spent time with her own children on the island, observing their reactions to woods, stones, crayfish, bear, and deer. The author's softly hewn pencil drawings infuse life and authenticity to her poetic, exquisitely wrought narrative. Omakayas is an intense, strong, likable character to whom young readers will fully relate--from her mixed emotions about her siblings, to her discovery of her unique talents, to her devotion to her pet crow Andeg, to her budding understanding of death, life, and her role in the natural world. We look forward to reading more about this brave, intuitive girl--and wholeheartedly welcome Erdrich's future series to the canon of children's classics.

Recommended for readers ages 9+ due to content relating to illness and death.

picture book selections: