Launched in 1998 by the National Education Association, March 2nd was designated Read Across America Day. This large celebration kicks off National Reading Month and focuses on motivating children and teens to read. Motivating kids to read means providing a variety of materials where the reader feels included, recognized and part of the world. Books that explore heritage and stories from the places we call home are a great way to not only learn more history but connect deeper with the things and people who surround us and those that came before. We have curated a list to do just that! Our Read Across America: South Dakota Addition list includes books for all ages that explore the place we all share as home…South Dakota.
Children’s Picture Books
A Dinosaur Named Sue: The Find of the Century by Fay Robinson
“When Susan Hendrickson set out to explore the rocky terrain of South Dakota, she had no idea of the awesome discovery that awaited her. Susan had never found more than a few dinosaur teeth and small bones. But on a routine archaeological dig one hot day in 1990, she came upon something that would astound the world; a 90% complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton: the most complete T. rex ever discovered! The T. rex was named “Sue” in honor of her founder. The Field Museum of Chicago bid more than 8 million dollars at a Sotheby’s auction to make their museum Sue’s home. Today, as scientists at the museum painstakingly work to restore Sue’s bones, they are learning and discovering new information about T. rex and the times in which it lived.”
The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
“Virginia’s old coat is too small. The cold South Dakota wind blows across the Rosebud Indian Reservation, making her shiver as she walks to school. Virginia dreams of a new coat arriving in the Theast boxes, parcels of clothing from churches in The East. But, she knows she may not have a chance for a coat this year. Her father is the village Episcopal priest, so her family chooses last, and as Mama always says, ‘The others need it more than we do.’ Generosity and unexpected joy remind Virginia of the importance of community within this story from the author’s childhood.”
A Boy Called Slow by Joseph Bruchac
“Anxious to be given a name as strong and brave as that of his father, a proud Lakota Sioux grows into manhood, acting with careful deliberation, determination, and bravery, which eventually earned him his proud new name: Sitting Bull.”
Hanging Off Jefferson’s Nose: Growing Up on Mount Rushmore by Tina Nichols Coury
“Lincoln Borglum was a young boy when his father, the great sculptor Gutzon Borglum, suggested to a group of South Dakota businessmen that he should carve the faces of four presidents into a side of a mountain as an attraction for tourists. But Mount Rushmore would never be finished by Gutzon. It would be his son who would complete the fourteen-year task and present America with one of its most iconic symbols.”
A Pizza with Everything On It by Kyle Scheele
Here’s a bonus book from the featured speaker at the SoDakSACA Fall Conference Kyle Scheele: Chronicle has bought A Pizza with Everything On It, a picture book written by Kyle Scheele and illustrated by Andy J. Miller. The story follows a boy and his father who try to make a pizza, accidentally destroy the universe, and try to rebuild it… out of pizza.
Children’s Chapter Books
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall
“Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy though you wouldn’t guess it by his name: his father is part white and part Lakota, and his mother is Lakota. When he embarks on a journey with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, he learns more and more about his Lakota heritage. In particular, the story of Crazy Horse, one of the most important figures in Lakota and American history. Drawing references and inspiration from the oral stories of the Lakota tradition, celebrated author Joseph Marshall III juxtaposes the contemporary story of Jimmy with an insider’s perspective on the life of Tasunke Witko, better known as Crazy Horse. Through his grandfather’s tales about the famous warrior, Jimmy learns more about his Lakota heritage and, ultimately, himself.”
Runs With Courage by Joan M. Wolf
“Ten-year-old Four Winds is a young Lakota girl caught up in the changes brought about by her people’s forced move to the reservation. Set in the Dakota Territory, it is the year 1880. Four Winds has been taken away from her family and brought to a boarding school run by whites. It is here she is taught English and learns how to assimilate into white culture. But soon she discovers that the teachers at this school are not interested in assimilation but rather in erasing her culture. On the reservation, Four Winds had to fight against starvation. Now she must fight to hold on to who she is.”
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber
“Praised by Alice Walker and many other bestselling writers, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is an award-winning debut novel with incredible heart about life on the prairie as it’s rarely been seen. Reminiscent of The Color Purple, as well as the frontier novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Willa Cather, it opens a window on the little-known history of African American homesteaders and gives voice to an extraordinary heroine who embodies the spirit that built America.”
“Mary Brave Bird grew up fatherless in a one-room cabin, without running water or electricity, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Rebelling against the aimless drinking, punishing missionary school, narrow strictures for women, and violence and hopelessness of reservation life, she joined the new movement of tribal pride sweeping Native American communities in the sixties and seventies. It is a unique document, unparalleled in American Indian literature, a story of death, of determination against all odds, of the cruelties perpetuated against American Indians, and of the Native American struggle for rights. Brave Bird recounts her difficult upbringing and the path of her fascinating life.”
Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris
“A deeply spiritual, deeply moving book” about life on the Great Plains, by the New York Times–bestselling author of The Cloister Walk (The New York Times Book Review).Kathleen Norris invites readers to experience rich moments of prayer and presence in Dakota, a timeless tribute to a place in the American landscape that is at once desolate and sublime, harsh and forgiving, steeped in history and myth. In thoughtful, discerning prose, she explores how we come to inhabit the world we see, and how that world also inhabits us. Her voice is a steady assurance that we can, and do, chart our spiritual geography wherever we go.
The Work Of Wolves by Kent Meyers
When fourteen-year-old Carson Fielding bought his first horse from Magnus Yarborough, it became clear that the teenager was a better judge of horses than the rich landowner was of humans. Years later, Carson, now a skilled and respected horse trainer, grudgingly agrees to train Magnus’s horses and teach his wife to ride. But as Carson becomes disaffected with the power-hungry Magnus, he also grows more and more attracted to the rancher’s wife, and their relationship sets off a violent chain of events that unsettles their quiet reservation border town in South Dakota. Thrown into the drama are Earl Walks Alone, an Indian trying to study his way out of the reservation and into college, and Willi, a German exchange student confronting his family’s troubled history. In this unforgettable story of horses, love, and life, Carson and the entire ensemble of characters learn, in very different ways, about the strong bonds that connect people to each other and to the land on which they live.