Native Americans: A Visual Exploration by S.N. Paleja (Brief Thoughts)

I spent a few months reading about the Native Americans last fall, so Native Americans: A Visual Exploration by S.N. Paleja (Annick Press, 2013) caught my eye on Netgalley. As a brief visual overview to the subject, it was a nice book for young readers. In general, however, it provided too little to be an essential or intriguing read.

By using images, charts, and graphics, this book gives young readers a very active and attractive book. If my son were older, I would not have hesitated to hand it to him to get his thoughts. This truly is a visual generation. The book’s layout reminded me of those whiteboard infographic videos on YouTube  where the information is present with a narrator and a hand drawing images on a white board. Each image leads right in to the next, and at the end, the camera zooms out to show the entire whiteboard of images.

In general, however, Native Americans: A Visual Exploration was simply too brief. I believe there is a place for visual learning, but there also is a place for information, and there simply was not much in this book. I say this fully realizing that I have read a lot about the Native Americans, and this is for youth who will not know as much as I do. There were generalities that bothered me, such as the chart which showed that all Native Americans arrived from Beringia (evidence suggests otherwise) and some of the pages had lots of cute illustrations but little information. I really liked some parts of it and I loved the chart of climate and homes since that goes along with my own homeschooling booklet I made.

So, in all, I really did like the visual exploration. It had cute graphics and interesting information. But it would not work as a stand-alone because there simply is not enough. At less than 50 pages, we can’t be too surprised about that.

Note: I received a digital review copy from the publisher via for review consideration.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (published 1970, reissued in ebook form by OpenRoad Media) is an incredibly painful book to read. It is a straight-forward historical account of the last three decades of Native American Indians in the American West, an account of the great leaders and cultures that are no more.

Although I felt I had an understanding of the conflicts that happened in the American West during the 1800s, I feel now that I had no idea of the extent of the genocide. Before, I thought the Native American Indians tragically died out, due to disease and relocation. Now I see better that the local American government routinely slaughtered whole communities.

Brown’s book is written with the Native American perspective at the forefront, so of course there is bias. However, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a well researched record of the American historical experience, and it is a vital text for Americans interested in learning the not-so-pretty truth about American history.Continue Reading

Living Books for History: Early Colonists

I was able to time our American History learning to correlate to the Thanksgiving Holiday! We recently finished learning about the pilgrims, which works out very well for us since we’re taking the next week slow, as a holiday from lots of school work.

Before we got the pilgrims, though, we read a few books about Roanoke and Jamestown. Continue Reading

Living Books for History: Early America

We have been “officially” doing unofficial kindergarten at home for a little over a month now. I’ve been teaching Raisin at home for much longer, of course, but I had to call it official at some point.1 I decided we would learn about American History this year, and I feel it’s definitely time to report on some of the wonderful books I’ve discovered in this year’s journey.Continue Reading

  1. I am not legally required to track his schooling in my state until he is 7 years old.