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Reading I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day


This term, small groups of Portland State University students in the Social Justice in K12 Education and Anti-Bias Education courses read middle reader own voices books together, reflecting on intersectionality, studying the Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards, and thinking about children's fiction authors as our teachers and guides. Read on to find out more about the book from Isabel Brodniak, Anaiz Martinez, Sydney Frank, and Lauren Smythe.

 

ABOUT I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE

This book is about a 12-year-old girl named Edith rediscovering her culture through the perspective of an important family member from her mother’s past. As she learns this information, she struggles with her identity and her culture, as well as many other troubles that come about in her adolescent years. With this discovery of her identity, Edith and her friends work on a film project that challenges their ideas of family, tradition, culture, and friendship.


This book offers a personal look into Native American culture and identity, specifically Suquamish and Duwamish, using the story of a young Native American girl. It offers diversity in showing a perspective that is not normally shown within school settings, such as revealing the struggles and difficulties of being a Native American girl growing up in the United States without her having any knowledge of her cultural background. The book also shows the battle in finding justice through the many unfair historic events that have happened to such communities, which include but are not limited to white supremacy, colonialism, and decolonization. This book will raise questions about action into battling these injustices happening to Native American people pertaining to past and present historic events.

LISTEN TO A FIRST PAGES READ ALOUD...AND GET HOOKED!


OUR TOP 10 FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK

  1. During the scene with the fireworks on the reservation, Edith seeing various aspects of Suquamish and Duwamish (e.g. fry bread) culture she wasn’t familiar with was interesting.

  2. The cultural diversity of Edith, Serenity, and Amelia (in that they all came from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds) was nice to see in a book aimed at children around the age of the main characters.

  3. I loved how easy the book was to understand regarding the issues presented to Edith throughout the story, as well as how important they were. Some examples of these issues are misrepresentation of Native culture in media, lack of research and knowledge about Native culture, social relationship issues that are common during that age.

  4. The book provides accurate examples of white supremacy/colonialism as experienced in everyday life.

  5. The book seemed really relatable for the targeted audience ie friendship, relationship issues, etc.

  6. Does a good job of presenting real-life Native American issues (specific to Suquamish and Duwamish) and situations.

  7. Brings attention to social issues, like protesting and stereotypes in the media.

  8. Has an engaging storyline while still being informative of past and current historic events within Native communities. History is not often talked about amongst this age group, even more so with Native American history. This book does a good job to create a compelling story to motivate kids to learn more about Native culture.

  9. The dynamic between the parents and Edith (like her hobbies and the competition)

  10. Had a really playful energy towards Edith’s want for exploring her family’s past.

It is all of our hope that you will get a copy of this book from the library or from your favorite local book shop and share it widely -- with young readers in your life!

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