Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way, by S.D. Nelson (ages 5-12)

There is something very special about watching dawn break over the sky. At this time of year, as our world is transitioning into winter, I want to take a moment to celebrate a beautiful book: Greet the Dawn--The Lakota Way, by S.D. Nelson. My students loved the way Nelson blends modern and traditional imagery in this beautiful celebration of the circle of life.

Greet the Dawn:
The Lakota Way
by S.D. Nelson
South Dakota State Historical Society, 2012
your local library
Modern Lakota kids board a yellow school bus, with traditional images floating in the dawn sky above them. "Father Sun gives warmth to Mother Earth" as the day unfolds in this poetic tribute to the natural cycle of life.
My students marveled at Nelson's use of color, repeated imagery and combination of modern and traditional symbols. They noticed the geometric patterns repeated throughout and wondered about why he painted people in so many different colors. Some students speculated that it might symbolize many different tribes or races living peacefully together. Others thought maybe the different colors represented human forms of Mother Earth and Father Sun.
S.D. Nelson is member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas. He weaves into this picture book songs in the Lakota language, placed alongside English translations. I have loved browsing through the gallery he shares on his website, and his biography Buffalo Bird Girl is one of my favorites to share with older children.

For more resources and children's books that share the Native American experience, definitely check out Debbie Reese's article in School Library Journal. Debbie writes the invaluable blog: American Indians in Children's Literature.
I have also found PBS Learning Media's resources for Native American Heritage full of fascinating video clips. It would be great to share Nelson's book along with the watching the video about Truman Lowe, a contemporary Native American artist.

The review copy came from our home library collection, purchased on Debbie Reese's advice. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

1 comment:

  1. These are cute illustrations, and the story line sounds wonderful.