There are many books related to Native Americans of the Southeast that can help students better visualize and understand the people, their history, and their present. Some short picture books can be used as a whole class read-alouds, where other longer books can be used as longer novel studies. In this activity, students will create a plot summary of the book using visuals and descriptions.
The example used for this activity is Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom by Tim Tingle.
Here are some additional suggestions for literature relating to the Indigenous People of the Southeast:
Tim Tingle, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is a sought-after storyteller and award-winning author:
Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith is a modern story about a girl named Jenna of Muscogee-Creek heritage living in Oklahoma that wishes to honor her family tradition by jingle dancing in a powwow.
Indian Shoes, also by Cynthia Leitich Smith, is a modern tale about a boy named Ray, a Seminole-Cherokee boy and his Grampa Halfmoon. It's a witty story about what it is like to grow up between the big city of Chicago and rural Oklahoma and is an easy chapter book perfect for ages 6 and up.
The Good Luck Cat by Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee-Creek nation, is a modern Native American story about Woogie, a cat who seems to get into one misfortune after another and its loving owner.
Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Cornelia Cornelissen is historical fiction describing the true event of the brutal, forced removal of all Cherokee people in 1838 from the southeast from the perspective of 9-year-old Soft Rain.
Mary and the Trail of Tears: A Cherokee Removal Survival Story by Andrea L. Rogers is another historical fiction about the Trail of Tears from the “Girls Survive” series of books and tells the story through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl. It's perfect for ages 8-11.
A Walk to the Great Mystery: A Cherokee Tale by Virginia A. Stroud (Cherokee-Creek) is the story of Dustin and Rosie learning about their heritage from their Grandma Ann, a Cherokee medicine woman. This is a picture book great for ages 4 and up.
The World in Grandfather’s Hands by Craig Kee Strete (Cherokee) is a story about a young boy who moves into his Grandfather’s home. It touches on serious subjects including the U.S. government’s policies relating to Native Americans. The chapter book is perfect for ages 8 and up.
Wilma's Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller by Doreen Rappaport tells the story of Wilma Mankiller, an activist and the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.
The Talking Earth by Jean Craighead George is a modern story about a Seminole girl named Billie Wind who gains appreciation for her community’s legends and lessons. It's great for ages 11 and up.
The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story by Joseph Bruchac, award-winning Native American storyteller, tells the Cherokee legend, which explains how strawberries came to be.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Objective: Summarize the story in a 3-5 cell storyboard describing the main events in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
Grade Level 4-5
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
Each of the cells represents a different part of the story. The cells are in order from beginning to end.
One cell is out of order, or the storyboard is missing important information.
Important information is missing and/or two or more cells are out of order.
Cells include images that accurately show events in the story and do not get in the way of understanding.
Most images show the events of the story, but some are incorrect.
The images are unclear or do not make sense with the story.
Descriptions match the images and show the change over time.
Descriptions do not always match the images or mention the importance of the event.
Descriptions are missing or do not match the images.
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling and grammar is mostly accurate. Mistakes do not get in the way of understanding.
Spelling is very inaccurate and hinders full understanding.
Text is very difficult to understand.