I recently shared my 2019 Holiday Picture Book Guide. I shared over 30 books with you that were written by authors of color, featuring protagonists of color; however, I need to remove one of the books from the list.
It pains me to have to do this, but after chatting with an educator friend via Instagram I need to remove Parker Looks Up from the list. We both discovered, with the help of the American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL), that there is one page in particular that misrepresents Native People. In the book, there is an image of the oil on canvas painting by Charles Bird King titled, Young Omahaw, War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees. The painting is actually in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Honestly, after reading the book with my children I did not see anything wrong with the painting, but after a little bit of digging I found out the image of the painting in the book was altered. The illustrators increased the size of the painting and also added more feathers to the image. Unfortunately, the additional feathers became the focus, and the main character comments, "Feathers! Lots and lots of brilliant feathers!" So instead of highlighting the story behind the painting the illustrators rendition of the image reduced Natives to the feathers that were ADDED to the image.
At first, it might not seem like such a big deal, but when you look at how Native Americans are portrayed in the media they are often reduced to stereotypes. The illustrators should have kept the painting in its original form or not have included it at all. To read about what the AICL had to say about the image click HERE.
It is important for us to continue to educate ourselves, so we can disrupt the stereotypes that exist - specifically against marginalized groups.
Below are few pictures books suggested by the AICL written by Native authors and featuring Native people.