Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Part 2: I'm Thankful for Indigenous and Decolonizing Children's Literature

...and Its Many Authors, Named and Unnamed 

I'm thankful for the small presses who have taken on the enormously significant task of publishing and promoting Indigenous children's literature. I'm thankful for Inhabit Media Inc., "an Inuit-owned publishing company that aims to promote and preserve the stories, knowledge and talent of northern Canada," who have published beautiful books like The Legend of Lightning & Thunder by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt. I'm thankful for Magabala Books, a publishing house in Australia working "to preserve, develop and promote Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures."

I'm thankful for Oyate, an organization which offers many services such as thoughtful children's book reviews, workshops on respectfully teaching about Native peoples through literature, and curriculum suggestions. I highly recommend taking a look at Oyate's Living Stories, a compilation of testimonies from Native peoples who want it understood that they are not relics of the past; they are "still here."

I'm thankful for Leanne Simpson, whose response as an activist to the fracking in Canada was to publish a children's book called The Gift is in the Making which re-tells traditional stories about Nishinaabeg cultural values and people. I'm thankful that Maori author Patricia Grace has written and published children's books Maraea and the Albatrosses, Areta & the Kahawa and others. I'm thankful that Samoan author Sia Figiel wrote The Girl in the Moon Circle. I'm thankful that Australian Aboriginal author Doris Pilkington wrote Home to Mother.

I'm thankful that children's literature is underestimated. It's an odd thing to be thankful for, but as Trinh T. Minh-Ha wrote in Woman, Native, Other, "associated with backwardness, ignorance, and illiteracy, storytelling in the more 'civilized' context is therefore relegated to the realm of children." Because children's literature is underestimated the decolonizing power of storytelling is thriving in the field. Keep an eye out for an upcoming article in the Unjournal of Children's Literature titled "Mythical and Missing Mothers," by Megan Parry for more about the subversive and decolonizing potential of children's literature.

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