Introduction to Native North Americans

Note: I occasionally accept review copies from the publisher. Posts written from review copies are labeled. All opinions are my own. Posts may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for any purchased items.

We have been “officially” doing unofficial kindergarten at home for a little over a month now. I’ve been teaching my son (now age 5) at home for much longer, of course, but I had to call it official at some point.(I am not legally required to track his schooling in my state until he is 7 years old.) I decided we would learn about American History this year, and I feel it’s definitely time to report on some of the books I’ve discovered in this year’s journey.

We began with a week-long study of the Native Americans. This is a difficult subject in which to find “living literature” or even nonfiction that was geared toward very young children. North American Indians by Douglas Gorsline (first published 1978) was one we read. It was okay. It provided good information without overwhelming the young reader. It also was written so that a strong early reader could take over the reading.

Although it is somewhat dated in its approach, the illustrations were well done. Further, the focus on the different Indian groups provided some context for how the different tribes lived differently in various parts of the country. It also emphasized the complexity of pre-Columbian society by explaining how different tribes communicated through sign language. Still, I was not very satisfied with this book.

The First Americans by Jane Werner Watson (first published 1980) was similarly an okay book for introducing children to the various tribes, containing similar and somewhat dated information in how it was presented. My son did not like the pictures in this one, however, so we didn’t read all of the book together. I also cannot find it in any of the online shops so I assume it’s out of print, and probably with good reason.

I couldn’t give either of these a rating above a 2/5. They were just not very engaging, and I do question the dated aspects. It gave us an introduction but more of an idea of what we should be looking for otherwise.

Reviewed on October 9, 2012

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • Just wanted to say I’m enjoying your posts, it’s great to see about all the great books out there for kids in all these subject areas. I have two kids (ages 6 and 4) and although I’m not homeschooling, I’m always on the lookout for quality books for them. It’s helpful to read your thoughts on each one. Keep up the good work!

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