This month on the Deerfield Public Library Podcast, we are honored to welcome Dr. Debbie Reese, a tribally enrolled Nambé Pueblo author and scholar. Dr. Reese is best known for her popular blog American Indians in Children’s Literature which “provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books.”
Our conversation offers an introduction to Dr. Reese and her work, which many librarians, teachers, parents, authors, and others consult to evaluate books by and about Native people, who are often underrepresented and misrepresented in literature. As Dr. Reese tells us, these types of misrepresentations in children’s literature—including stereotypes, omissions, and inaccuracies—come at a great cost to both Native and non-Native readers.
Dr. Reese is also the co-adapter (with Dr. Jean Mendoza) of An Indigenous People’s History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press, 2019). We spend some time discussing the ways in which Drs. Reese and Mendoza adapted the often disturbing and violent history of the United States from a Native perspective, a perspective that is often left out of U.S. history books and classrooms. An Indigenous People’s History of the United States for Young People has recently appeared on several lists of books that some want to be banned or removed from school and public libraries. We hear Dr. Reese’s perspective on why books like hers are being challenged.
Finally, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to highlight just a few of the many wonderful books by contemporary Native authors in our collection. Listen to the end of our conversation for some great recommendations of recent books for a wide range of readers, also listed below.
You can check out An Indigenous People’s History of the United States for Young People here at the library and find out more about Dr. Reese at her blog American Indians in Children’s Literature.
You can also find some of the books we discussed in our conversation in our collection:
- SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose, illustrated by Brian Deines
- On the Trapline by David Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett
- Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
- Ni, Elisi! Look, Grandma! by Art Coulson, illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight
- Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman by Sharice Davids with Nancy K. Mays, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
- We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
Early Chapter Books
- The Used-to-be Best Friend (Jo Jo Makoons, book 1) by Dawn Quigley, illustrated by Tara Audibert
- Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell
- #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy
- Apple: Skin to the Core: A Memoir in Words and Pictures by Eric Gansworth
We hope you enjoy our 53rd interview episode! Each month we release an episode featuring a conversation with an author, artist, or other notable guests from Deerfield, Chicagoland, or around the world. Learn more about the podcast on our podcast page.
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