Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction.

Greet the Dawn - The Lakota Way is a beautiful book that shares the Lakota Way. According to the author, this way "offers a means of living in balance." S.D. Nelson provides an introduction explaining this way of life that is lived in a circle with humility and balance. I appreciated the mix of tradition and modernity in the book within the text and illustrations. He honors traditional patterns and imagery, but is also bringing a new vision to the work including playfulness with colors and even some cartoon elements among other things. Another part of this fusion is that he provides modern scenes along with timeless illustrations. The reader will know that this is not only about Lakota from long ago. On the title page we see a pickup truck amidst a grouping of tipis. There is also a fantastic spread with a big yellow school bus. Within this contemporary school type scene he includes colorful patterns along the road and pictographic images in the sky that point to the Lakota heritage. This image may be seen in the opening of the trailer below.

The text is also a fusion of old and new. Through the simple poetic lines, Nelson is sharing the many teachings that have influenced his life. In a note at the end, Nelson tells of the people who have provided this  teaching including Black Elk and many others. I appreciated that he points to the sources. The text also includes several songs in the Lakota language that he notes are from Teton Sioux Music. I always appreciate seeing other languages within picture books.

I think Greet the Dawn would pair well with Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp or, though much more simplified, you also might compare it to Our Journey by Liz Jaakola

All three books come from different traditions (Lakota, Mohawk, and Ojibwe), but they share many similarities such as thankfulness for the many things nature provides and greeting the day.

Another interesting type of pairing would be to look at other "ways of living." 

In Ka's Garden: Kab Lub Vaj, the story teaches about the Hmong way of life and at the end there is a note that lists out some core beliefs. Several are similar to those expressed by S.D. Nelson.

Alone or paired with other books, I highly recommend Greet the Dawn and look forward to sharing it with staff and students.  


  1. What a wonderfully diverse set of books - and I am not familiar with all of them, wow! Have to be on the lookout for these titles. Thanks for sharing dear Crystal! :)

  2. What a diverse set of books! I love that you continue to broaden our horizons. I did not know any of these titles, so I will have to look for them. Thank you!