January 20, 2014

#CanLitChoices for "The Birchbark House"

The Birchbark House
by Louise Erdrich
Hyperion Books
244 pp.
Age 8-12
RL 4.9
This novel, winner of countless book awards including the National Book Award, is a favourite novel used in the middle grades as an example of historical fiction with the focus on Aboriginal Peoples. Written at a reading level at 4.9 (this means a child should be able to read this at the ninth month of Grade 4), The Birchbark House provides teachers with an emphasis on historical fiction and the following themes:
  • community
  • family
  • Aboriginal Peoples
  • culture conflict
  • death
While all of these themes are not present in each of the following youngCanLit, these eight titles provide a variety of options, at different reading levels, for historical fiction that has an emphasis on the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.  I encourage teachers to delve into these titles to provide your young readers with Canadian alternatives to The Birchbark House.

Blood Red Ochre
by Kevin Major
Delacorte Press
160 pp.
Ages 11-14

When a Newfoundland boy, David, travels to Red Ochre Island, to help with a school project on the Beothuk, he learns of the Beothuk way of life from Dauoodaset, one of the last of tribe, before it goes extinct.

Broken Circle
by Christopher Dinsdale
Napoleon Publishing
98 pp.
Ages 8-12

When twelve-year-old Jesse meet his late father's Wendat relatives for the very first time, he is transformed into a deer during an unexpected vision quest, and finds himself experiencing the Wendat history of the mid-17th century.  That historical period has Iroquois invading Wendat territory and the French fort at Ste. Marie seeming to be possible shelter. By presenting himself as a spirit guide, Jesse finds a way to help his Wendat ancestors.

Counting on Hope
by Sylvia Olsen
Sono Nis
299 pp.
Ages 10-14

Though twelve-year-olds Hope (whose family moved from England to an island off the coast of British Columbia) and Letia (whose tribe, the Lamalcha, make their summer home on the island) become secret friends, there is much suspicion and conflict between the settlers and the First Nations in the early 1860s on Wallace Island.

The Dream Carvers
by Joan Clark
Puffin Canada
240 pp.
Ages 11-14

A Norse boy from 11th century Greenland is captured by the Beothuk and struggles with retaining his own identity until he adjusts to their world and their ways.

Outcasts of River Falls
by Jacqueline Guest
Coteau Books
242 pp.
Ages 9-13

After her father dies, Kathryn must leave her upper class life in Toronto to live with her Aunt Belle in River Falls, Alberta. There, in the community of shacks, she learns of her Métis identity and the life of the Métis, including the grave injustices they endure.

Sister to the Wolf
by Maxine Trottier
Kids Can Press
348 pp.
Ages 10-14

In 1703, French Canadian Cécile Chesne rescues Lesharo, a Pawnee, from brutal slavery but learns more about prejudice when they travel to Fort Detroit.

by Pamela Porter
Illustrated by by Mary Jane Gerber
Groundwood Books
104 pp.
Ages 9-11

The life of the Métis living with the Blackfoot is told through the voice and eyes of a young girl, emphasizing the poverty and discrimination as well as historic events in 1960s Montana.

by Jan Hudson
168 pp.
Ages 11-15

Life on the early 19th century Canadian prairie is not easy for Sweetgrass, a fifteen-year-old Blackfoot, especially with starvation and smallpox forcing her to break a tribal taboo for which she must endure the consequences.


Leave comments if you have any other suggestions for alternatives or to select an age-old novel that needs refreshing with #CanLitChoices.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful selection. I plan to check some of them out. Thanks for pointing them out.