Last semester, I took a required Education course called “Encounter with Cultures” taught by Professor Susan Cherup. In this course, there was a unit on Native Americans with readings focused on Native Americans and current Native American issues. All of this helped prepare me so well to read our upcoming Big Read 2021 book, An American Sunrise, by Joy Harjo.
If you are looking to learn more about Native Americans in preparation for your reading of our Big Read book, I encourage you to give these books and movies a try!
One meaningful read was an excerpt from Shaping Survival: Essays by Four American Indian Tribal Women by Lydia Whirlwind Soldier. She is one of the six Native American voices joining us in November to share her story!
Lydia Whirlwind Soldier went to an Indian Boarding School. The most famous boarding school is the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I live nearby and have family in this town, so it surprised me that I knew so little about the boarding school.
The movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was based on the book of the same name by Dee Brown. It tells the story of Sitting Bull, a Sioux chief, Charles Eastman, a Native American who became a doctor, and the displaced Native Americans as settlers moved West. This movie was very emotional and sad. I’ve learned about these concepts or people, but it was different to watch the history on the screen.
My favorite book from the class was Neither Wolf Nor Dog, a novel by Kent Nerburn. Kent traveled to the Lakota Indian Reservation to learn from an Indian elder named Dan. It was easy for me to relate to Nerburn since he was trying to learn and gain a better understanding from Dan. One of the things I appreciated most about this bookis that the reader gets to learn from someone who makes mistakes while trying to navigate Lakota culture and relationships.
“Encounters with Culture” was one of my favorite courses at Hope College and showed me how much more there is to learn about various cultures. I’m excited for our community to learn about similar topics from our Big Read speakers this fall.
If you want to get a head start on your learning, check out the Native American authors who will be participating in our program on our Instagram @bigreadlakeshore or read/watch one of the resources above!
I recently traveled to Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, the largest used and new bookstore in the world! This inspired me to share a few of my favorite things about libraries and feature the libraries that serve our Lakeshore community.
Libraries offer a wide collection of books, movies, audiotapes, CDs, and various services like internet, printing, or classes. Also, libraries sponsor summer reading programs or other event opportunities for people of all ages.
My mom took me to storytime at my local library and signed me up for the summer reading programs. I still set a book goal and try to reach it each summer. This summer my book goal was 10 books and I’ve read 6 so far!
These poems by Nikki Giovanni speak to her love of libraries. The line from “My First Memories (Of Librarians)” states, “A big room with heavy wooden tables that sat on/a creaky/ wood floor.” The library I went to as a child always creaked as we walked. Even after some recent renovations, the floor still has a familiar creak.
Scan the list below for the library closest to you. If you visit your local library often, comment below and tell us what you love about it. Keep your eyes open for upcoming updates about our event partnerships with the lakeshore libraries!
There are 17,000 public libraries in the United States, which is more than Starbucks or McDonald’s locations.
Alaska’s Resources Library and Information Services in Anchorage has a taxidermy collection that patrons can check out. Boy scout troops sometimes use these items in their ceremonies.
Ben Franklin founded the first library, the Library Company of Philadelphia, in 1731. The initial collection of books from this library burned in the War of 1812.
We are thrilled to announce our 2021 program! will be headlined by six Native American authors and poets: Joy Harjo, Lydia Whirlwind Soldier, Angeline Boulley, Dr. Debbie Reese, Kevin Noble Maillard and Cynthia Leitch Smith.
“This year, I’m excited to announce our program will be centered around Native American voices. It’s important to amplify the voices of Native American people and learn about history and culture from a Native American lens. This is a new focus for our program and the first time we’ve ever had so many authors join us. I’m looking forward to the discussion and learning that will occur in November!”
Dr. Deb Van Duinen, associate professor of English Education and director of the NEA Big Read Lakeshore
Joy Harjo, author of “An American Sunrise”, the program’s 2021 selection, is scheduled to kick off our program on October 25, 2021 at 7pm. With Joy Harjo joining live, this virtual conversation will be hosted in-person at Dimnent Chapel on Hope College’s campus.
“It’s such an honor to have Joy Harjo, our current US Poet Laureate, participate in our program in this way. She’s a prominent voice in the Native American community and well-known around the world for her beautiful poetry. I can’t think of a better way to begin our month of programming than with her visit.”
Dr. Deb Van Duinen
Writer, musician, and current Poet Laureate of the United States, Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. “An American Sunrise:—her eighth collection of poems—revisits the homeland from which her ancestors were uprooted in 1830 as a result of the Indian Removal Act. It is a “profound, brilliantly conceived song cycle, celebrating ancestors, present and future generations, historic endurance and fresh beginnings,” wrote critic Jane Ciabattari.
Harjo’s many awards include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas; the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets; and two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. Joy Harjo previously visited Hope College in the fall of 1993 and spring of 2012 through the college’s Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series.
Lydia Whirlwind Soldier, a renowned poet and member of the Oak Lake Tribal Writers Society, joins Lakeshore readers on Tuesday, November 2 at 7:00 pm. At the virtual event, she will read her poetry and share the story behind each poem.
Born on the Rosebud foundation, Soldier graduated from Sinte Gleska University and holds a graduate degree from Pennsylvania State University. As a member of the Oak Lake Tribal Writers Society, her poetry is well known throughout the community. Not only is she a well-known poet, she is also a non-fiction writer, teacher and craftswoman. She received the 2015 South Dakota Living Indian Treasure Award that recognized her dedication to preserve traditional art forms. Lydia is a member of the Lakota tribe.
#1 New York Times Bestselling author Angeline Boulley will discuss her bestselling book, “Firekeeper’s Daughter” on Monday, November 8 at 7:00 pm. This virtual event is presented in collaboration with Herrick District Library.
Boulley is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and tells the story of her Ojibwe community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Previously, she was the Director of the Office of Indian Education in the U.S. Department of Education. The YA thriller “Firekeeper’s Daughter” is her debut novel. She resides in southwest Michigan.
To discuss why literature matters, Dr. Debbie Reese is next on the program. Her event, “From Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie to Harjo’s An American Sunrise: Words Matter,” is set to occur on Wednesday, November 10 at 7:00 pm at Winants Auditorium in Graves Hall, Hope College. She will consider how words shape what readers know about this place called America and the people who call it home.
Dr. Debbie Reese is the founder of American Indians in Children’s Literature. She’s an educator focused on Native Americans in literature and holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois. She co-edited a young adult adaptation of “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” with Jean Mendoza in 2019. She is an enrolled member of the Nambe Owingeh tribe and grew up on Nambe’s reservation.
The Big Read Lakeshore’s Little Read Lakeshore for children occurs concurrently and focuses on similar themes. This year, the Little Read selection is the picture book “Fry Bread” by Kevin Noble Maillard. Maillard will connect with young readers on Friday, November 12 at 9:00 am. He will show readers his studio, share his inspiration and describe how “Fry Bread” was created. This event is presented in collaboration with Herrick District Library.
“I’m thrilled that the authors of both our Big Read and Little Read selection are joining us this year,” said Van Duinen. She continued, “It’s an incredible opportunity for our community and particularly area students to interact with the authors of the books we are reading. We cannot wait for the special discussion we get to have with these authors!”
Dr. Deb Van Duinen
Maillard’s debut novel is “Fry Bread” which won the Sibert Medal and American Indian Youth Literature Honor. He is a Professor of Law at Syracuse University, co-founder of the Black Stream Partners consulting firm and contributor to the New York Times. He also has provided written commentary for The Atlantic and on-air commentary to ABC News and MSNBC. Maillard is an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. He resides in Manhattan, NY.
Rounding out the robust line-up of authors is Cynthia Leitich Smith on Monday, November 15 at 7pm. Another collaboration with Herrick District Library, this event, “Native & First Nation Books for Young Readers with Cynthia Leitch Smith,” features literature for children and young adults that has created a movement towards equity.
Smith celebrates this work through her own work as an editor, author and curator for HarperCollins’ Native-American focused imprint, Heartdrum. She is the 2021 NSK Neustadt Laureate and a New York Times bestselling author. Her books for young readers, including “Hearts Unbroken,” tell Native American history and amplify Native American voices.
Smith’s most recent releases are “Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids” and “Sisters of the Neversea.” She is the curator of Heartdrum, a Native American focused imprint and is the Katherine Paterson Inaugural Chair on the faculty of a MFA program, Writing for Children and Young Adults, at Vermont College of the Fine Arts. She is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation and currently resides in Texas.
“Last year, we reinvented our program to be fully virtual. While we are looking forward to being in-person with our readers this year, we’ve still incorporated virtual events. Our team loves the connection that virtual events provide. We are able to connect with authors and readers from around the globe while being right here in West Michigan! This year’s hybrid program allows us to have the best of both worlds.”
Dr. Deb Van Duinen
These are the first events we have announced regarding the 2021 program. These events will be available for registration on bigreadlakeshore.com/events within the week. As we announce more events, the website will be updated.
Here’s a recap of the poetry tips shared on our blog and social media posts so far. Use these tips to explore poetry and this year’s book collection, An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo.
Read Outside: Sometimes all it takes to better understand something or to want to read something is a change of space. Find a poem about the outdoors and take it outside. Being in an environment like the poem may help you connect and understand the poem!
Read aloud: Reading a poem out loud is one of the most simple and effective poetry strategies. By reading a poem aloud, you can pick up on pauses, rhythm, and words that may be missed when reading silently. Also, reading aloud often improves your memory of the piece.
How do you feel after reading?: Oftentimes we prioritize understanding a poem over considering what we like and do not like about the poem. How does the poem make you feel? The author likely selected words or phrases that would make the reader feel a certain way.
Consider the history: Some poems are hard to grasp because they contain historical context. This is especially true with older poems and poets. There is no harm in researching a poem to better understand the context or references a poem makes. This just increases how much you learn through a poem!
Words matter: Any English teacher or professor drilled into my head the idea that words are one of the most important parts of poetry. Poetry crams so much into a few short lines, so each word has to have a purpose. This means readers have to give their attention to each word. Look up words you do not know, consider word repetition, or just think about a word choice that surprised you.
Keep a lookout for more poetry strategies on our upcoming blog posts and social media. Comment below which has been the most helpful to you as you dive into poetry!
Have you ever thought about the similarities between songs and poetry? Music often feels more accessible because it is part of our daily lives, but poetry can be just as accessible with practice!
There are countless genres of music, which means each individual has different variations of genres and artists. Similarly, people have favorite poets and forms of poetry that connect with them.
Music also uses figurative language, rhyme schemes, and different forms that listeners may not think about when listening to a playlist. Music and poetry seem contradictory, but many of these elements are prominent in both mediums.
Storytelling is a key part of both of these forms. Songs and poems both tell stories in a different way from novels or movies. Songwriters or poets pack their stories into several minutes of listening or reading. Fans often interact with a song or poem multiple times before the meaning and rhythm become clear.
Sometimes songs are inspired by poetry or have similar lyrics. The Lighthouse by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the song The Lighthouse’s Tale by Nickel Creek both tell the story of a lighthouse and use imagery associated with the sea and lighthouses. These two pieces provide different perspectives: one reflecting on the lighthouse and one from the vantage of the lighthouse.
Print out your favorite song right, contemporary or classic, and read the words. You may be surprised by the ways poetry is already incorporated into your daily life!
Earlier this year, we featured a series entitled Reading Together on our Little Read Lakeshore social media accounts! This series provides intentional tips for reading, discussing and exploring themes of books with Little Readers. And surprise! Two NEW tips are spotlighted only here, our blog!
Let your kids see you read! 👀 Tell them what you are reading and why you’re interested in it. Point out to them when you go to the library or purchase a new book for yourself! Sit down on the weekends and read in front of your them. Encourage them to love reading by reading yourself!
Enjoy a series! 📚 For older kids who are growing in their reading skills, a book series is an exciting and reliable option. Ask your librarian for a recommendation and get started! (Or check out our #BookRecWednesday series on either @bigreadlakeshore or @littlereadlakeshore on Facebook & Instagram!)
Enjoy audiobooks together! 🎧 Audiobooks count as reading! Play audiobooks as you have breakfast or a snack. (This also helps kids stay seated and finish their food!) Talk about the story the same way you would a book and ask what them what they thinks will happen next or who their favorite character is!
Don’t forget about nonfiction! ⚠️ Notice what subject interests your kids (baking, bugs, trains, etc.) and find that section in the children’s area of the library. Bring home as many books as you like on one subject and take a deep dive into learning together. Feel free to flip through the pages casually and enjoy books without the pressure of reading cover to cover.
Visit your local bookstore! 🔖 Our local West MI bookstores are the perfect place immerse your Little Reader in books. Combine supporting local business and reading with special one-on-one time with a child. Pick one out a new book buy and bring home! And maybe stop for a treat on your way home too?!
Host a reading party! 🥳 Surprise your kids with a giant bowl of popcorn and announce a reading party. Make a stack of as many books as possible. Sit and read through them all (and don’t forget to have a glass of water nearby for all those read alouds!). Celebrate reading in your home by throwing a party.
For tips and tricks like this, as well as fun ways to get Little Readers involved with our program, find us at @littlereadlakeshore on Facebook and Instagram or email us at email@example.com!
Looking for more books to read this summer? Here are a few classic books, both past and more current, that are perfect additions to your reading lists this summer!
This semester My English class Literature of the Western World assigned a group project to craft a list of the fifty books deserving of inclusion in the Western Canon. We tended to choose books true to their time and books that contained moral lessons, so you may notice those themes throughout the books I highlighted here. I added several of our selections that were either my favorites ones or ones that I am hoping to tackle this summer.
This short novel tells the story of an old, Cuban fisherman and his struggle with the largest fish he has ever encountered, an Atlantic blue marlin. Throughout the story, Hemingway uses a simple narrative to explore perseverance and surviving the struggles of life. I love to fish with my brothers and I grew up going to the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland on vacation, so this book has always reminded me of those moments with family.
Anne of Green Gables is a classic story that describes the adventures of a young orphan named Anna on Prince Edward Island. It is a coming-of-age story filled with imagination, everyday life, and the relationships that form with those close to you. I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time over Christmas break and couldn’t put it down. Prince Edward Island is on the top of my bucket list for places to travel and I was fascinated by Anne’s imagination.
This tale features a 12-year-old boy, Douglas Spalding as he spends a summer in a rural, Illinois town. The story uses Dandelion Wine as a metaphor for life and explores what it means to truly be alive. I’ve never read this book, but it caught my eye when I read a few of the selections by my peers. It fits with the previous books because it is a simple narrative and tells a story commenting on life. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, not Illinois, but I always enjoy a story that takes place in a small town.
Hosseini’s story is a heartbreaking tale about Amir and his life growing up in Afghanistan. During a time of tension in Afghanistan, the novel touches on the themes of friendship, regret, shame, and the possibility of redemption. This book has stuck with me since I read it in high school. My younger brother recently read it and reminded me of how impactful the story is for the reader.
Stanley Yelnats is shipped to Camp Green Lake for the summer after being falsely accused of theft. At this camp, Stanley is forced to dig holes each day for his rehabilitation. As the story unfolds, the author shows how history and ancestry impact the present. Holes always makes me think of the summer. I read this book back in middle school, but I hope to reread the book soon!
Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor, shares his experiences inside a concentration camp during World War II. In the camp, a nurse asks him to dying Nazi soldier, who is hoping to gain forgiveness from a Jew for his crimes against humanity. The author explored the possibility and limits of forgiveness in this novel. I had never heard of this book before, but this book caught my attention since I am researching World War II at Hope College this summer.
Published in 2014, this book takes place after a flu pandemic that resulted in the collapse of civilization. Station Eleven is a story of hope, pain, joy, regret, and how one uses these emotions to craft a better world. This book is also at the top of my to-read list! It takes place in the Great Lakes region during a pandemic, which feels a bit familiar. It was also a past Big Read selection.
Are you wondering how to get outside and enjoy reading this summer? There are so many outdoor activities and places for you and your family to choose!
A great strategy for reading is finding a spot outside where you feel refreshed and at peace. Being outside is a great way to make reading fun. You can do this by the pool, the beach, in the grass, or at a park around town.
Lakeshore parks also feature literature to engage the mind and get outside and enjoy. Did you know that poems and art are featured at Windmill Island Gardens? Check it out!
Centennial Park features a Wizard of Oz theme, while a yellow brick road leads into Herrick District Library. L. Frank Baum, who wrote the Wizard of Oz, owned a home in Holland, Michigan, and was inspired to write the story while in Michigan.
The Outdoor Discovery Center is another great place to visit to see native structures that relate to our chosen book, An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo. Check out their exhibits to the left!
Poets and authors have long been inspired by nature as a subject. Many poets in England moved to the Lake District in Cumbria, England to write poems, such as “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey…,” by William Wordsworth. Check out some of the trails along the lakeshore community and write or enjoy the views. My personal favorite hiking spot is Sanctuary Woods!
Use this link to find more ideas for family activities outside. Some cool ideas include painting story stones or finding a guidebook for a hike through nature.
Suggest more summer activities for readers in the comments below!
One of our past poetry strategies has been to think about your mood as you read a poem. Another great strategy is to think about the tone the author takes within a poem.
Tone and mood often go hand in hand because the attitude or tone a poet takes within a poem impacts the mood of the reader when reading the piece. The mood can change throughout the poem, while the author’s tone usually is consistent within a poem. Confused? Keep reading!
Read or listen to the poem Stillbirth by Laure-Anne Bosselaar and think about the tone of the poem.
I felt a sense of panic at the beginning of the poem because of the lines, “It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing,/ but I rushed in, searching for your face.” These lines caused me to feel rushed and confused as the reader.
The poem continued and I began to feel sad as I started to understand what the poet was talking about. The poet writes, “I was told not to look. Not to get attached—.” This line along with the title “Stillbirth” filled me with sadness once I understood that this was a poem about loss.
Once I thought about how the mood shifted throughout the poem I started to consider the author’s tone when writing the poem.
The repetition of the word “grief” stood out to me, such as “Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.” It seemed to me that the poet wrote this poem as a response to her grief and used the poem to express the pain from the death of a child.
What was a line from this poem that stood out to you and communicated tone or mood? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
With summer vacation upon us, it seems like the perfect time to highlight some recommendations for summer reads.
Poetry has been featured for the past several weeks, so let’s shift gears and highlight a different genre – nonfiction.
Many of the books I have read lately have been memoirs and biographies. Here are a few of my favorites and some other popular recommendations:
This book tells the story of a writer for the New York Post, who developed a rare form of encephalitis. This rare autoimmune disease affects the brain and causes patients to experience symptoms commonly associated with Schizophrenia or “madness” as Collins calls it.
I read Unbroken in high school for a summer reading project and was surprised to enjoy this book so much. Laura Hillenbrand records the life of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic athlete, who served in World War II as an airman. The story details his time during the war as a survivor of a plane crash, eventual prisoner of war, and his struggle to cope after the war.
In this book, readers can delve into Malala’s miraculous recovery after being shot for advocating for her right to education in northern Pakistan. This book is perfect if you enjoy stories of bravery, the fight for education, and the power of one voice.
This story by Dave Peltzer is sure to be a shocking and emotional read as it details one child’s life of abuse and journey in the foster-care system. It is a deeply felt novel that follows the author’s story of resilience and struggle.
Dive into the memoir from the poet of our chosen book this year. Joy Harjo tells her story from her childhood, time at an Indian boarding school, and struggles before becoming the current United States poet-laureate and acclaimed author.
What are the books on your summer reading list? We’d love to hear them!