Rescue Bears Experience with Erin Fountain of Institute for Positive Mental Health

Posted & filed under Blog, Youth & Teen.

Join our Junior Justice League on December 8 at 3:30pm CST for a Rescue Bear-Making Experience with Erin Fountain, Executive Director of Institute for iPositive Mental Health (IPMH). Register here to join our live session.

The Institute for Positive Mental Health (IPMH) is a 501(c)(3) for-impact community mental health organization. They were founded in 1994 and have been known for many years throughout the South and West side for their EXCEL Job Training and Work First Program, their Entrepreneurship Program developing holistic body care products, and as makers of Rescue Bears from mismatched socks. We partnered with Erin last year for a fantastic bear-making program in person – so we’re so honored to be able to partner with the Institute for Positive Mental Health again to host a community-wide virtual Rescue Bear-Making Experience.

“We will take an old, lonely, forgotten sock and turn it into an adorable Rescue Bear,” Erin shared. “ The purpose of the Bear Making Experience is to give people hope during difficult times. Rescue bears are individually crafted and designed to demonstrate THAT and HOW we give purpose and meaning to our world. Once created, Rescue Bears are gifted to people who need a little something to hold onto. They also make a wonderful personalized and unique gift. No two bears are ever alike and there’s no wrong way to make a Bear.” 

Erin will guide us through the steps to make our Rescue Bears, offering tips, answering questions, and sharing ideas to help us make them unique and special. This is a program that is perfect to do as a family, especially when using crafting supplies like scissors and glue guns. Due to the small pieces, Rescue Bears are recommended for children ages 8 and up, especially middle schoolers and teens. Some adult supervision is recommended for young people, especially while using scissors and glue guns. 

Grab & Go Program Kits

We have created free Grab & Go Program Kits to pick up in our Great Green Box at the library, while supplies last, available starting November 30.

They will include: 2 socks, stuffing, mini-rubber bands, googly eyes, a card (to write a note to the person you’ll gift your bear to), and directions.

You’ll need to find these supplies at home: scissors, sharpie, hot glue gun with glue sticks OR fabric glue OR needle & thread, other crafting accessories such as pompons, buttons, feathers, fabric, etc.

You can always make a bear using the supplies you have at home and adapt the directions below accordingly. 

You can join us live on December 8 or you can use this post with our Grab & Go Kit to do this activity at your convenience. You can start by watching these videos.

How to Make a Rescue Bear

We have provided two socks, so you can plan to keep your first bear. This is the bear you are experimenting on and learning how to make a rescue bear. There’s no ONE way to make a bear and no two will be alike. Large socks make large bears; baby socks make baby bears. The heel of the sock will become the face of the bear so select your sock with that in mind. Most accessories are made from sock parts as well. There is no sewing involved. Recycled parts and pieces are valuable accessories.

Adapt these directions to best express your vision for your Rescue Bear. Due to the small pieces, Rescue Bears are recommended for ages 8 and up. Some adult supervision is recommended for young people, especially while using scissors and glue guns.

Select your sock. Orient it so the heel is the head. Put a little bit of fluff in the two bottom corners to make the feet. Wrap a rubber band around each foot.

Fill the rest of the body with fluff (but not too much). Take some fluff and push it out on the sides of the sock to make the arms. Wrap a rubber band around each arm.

Put a rubber band around the bottom of the heel to make a neck.

Fill the heel with fluff.

Wrap a rubber band around the head. (Rubber bands may be a bit fragile, so be careful not to pull them too tightly.) 

Cut the extra sock off but leave enough sock to make ears. Cut the extra sock into circles (ears) using sewing scissors. Put rubber bands around both of them. 

Put fluff in the ears. Put the fluff in with scissors and then glue it shut with a glue gun, fabric glue, or hand-sewing. 

Use a glue gun or fabric glue to affix the eyes. 

Draw on paws and the face with a sharpie.

Using the extra sock material, you can make a hat or scarf. Use the crafting accessories as desired. Be creative. You can even make a personalized facemask for your bear! 

Make plans to safely (think contactless) share your completed Rescue Bear with someone who could use it. Use the card to write a message to the person you’re gifting the bear to.

We’d love to see what you have created and how you’ve shared your bear with others to help them. 

Share pictures/video of your Rescue Bears with us on social media or via email at

Caldecott Club 2021: Session #1

Posted & filed under Blog, Book Discussions, Early Literacy, Youth & Teen.

Welcome to our 2021 Caldecott Club! I’m Miss Eti, one of the Youth & Teen Services librarians at Lincolnwood Library. We have come full circle during this, our 4th Caldecott Club, inspired by the fantastic program that Brian Wilson created at Evanston Public Library in 2016. This year we are hosting a collaborative virtual Caldecott Club WITH Mr. Brian and Evanston Public Library. Things will be a bit different in our virtual program, but the joyful fun of exploring awesome books together will be the same. And now we have the opportunity to welcome people from across our community – and beyond – to celebrate beautiful picture books together!

We met together on Zoom on November 9 with a group of wonderful readers, their families, and friends to talk about all things picture books. We were even joined by friends in other states, including teachers and a library school student! We were joined by our program buddy, Ms. Ann, and our Evanston Library buddies, Laura and Louise.

We designed this program to be open to kids from around 1st grade through 8th grade because picture books are for everybody and everyone can learn from each other. I’ve tried to recap their brilliance in this post.

We began our program by reviewing what the Caldecott Award is. Mr. Brian shared how it is the award for the most distinguished American picture book for children, given out each year by the Association for Library Service to Children. He pointed out last year’s Caldecott medal winner, The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Kwame Alexander, as well as the Honor books, Bear Came Along, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, written by Richard T. Morris, Double Bass Blues, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, written by Andrea J. Loney, & Going Down Home With Daddy, illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyon. Thank you to Curt Leppert at Baker & Taylor who has shared print posters with us in years past – and provided this graphic for us to use this year. You can find it in our resources.

Mr. Brian then talked about the criteria for evaluating picture books. Shoutout to Holly Jin at Skokie Public Library for sharing this resource with me in past years to make the evaluation language more accessible. Brian and I emailed the criteria handout to those who registered to print out or view during the program if they wanted to use it.

Once we established our criteria, we were ready to explore the books. Mr. Brian put the books in a cardboard box, so he could dramatically open it just like the grown-up committee does when books arrive in the mail.

The books we discussed in session 1 were:

A Girl like Me by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Nina Crews

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

I guess this is the place I should put a spoiler alert for all the books we’re discussing…

Picture Walk

Rather than doing a formal read aloud of each book, we did picture walks. For the picture walk, we discussed each book’s visual features to examine the techniques the artists used and how they worked. Often we would prompt the group by asking them: How well does this book do what it’s trying to do? What did you notice? What does it make you wonder? How does this page make you feel? What makes this art distinguished? (Shout out to Megan Dowd Lambert’s Whole Book Approach. I highly recommend her book, Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking about What They See.)

We used a strategy that ended up working well last year in person: scanning in the books so everyone could see them. While we had our copies of the physical books (insert my soapbox about books as objects, case cover secrets, and the texture and smell of picture books), it was very helpful to have digital versions to share with the group. We also added to our usual picture walk toolbox by encouraging participants to share and listen in lots of ways. People could unmute themselves and talk, raise their hands, use the chat, and use the reactions – and people did all of these things throughout the program, so ended up having a rich discussion in many places at the same time.

A Girl like Me by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Nina Crews

I (Eti) began our discussion by sharing some of the behind-the-scenes details about Nina Crews’ process to make A Girl Like Me. According to Nina, she made “patterns, scanned hand-made textures and used vector shapes created in Photoshop and collaged these with my photographs.” I was able to share some process pictures including thumbnails, sketches, and photoshoots she did with real girls – and emphasize how these real kids are the stars of this book, with their names on the copyright page and facts about them at the end. It was also able to share it as an ebook directly from Hoopla, which you can borrow and read without any waiting.

We began our discussion about A Girl Like Me by talking about the crowds of people who tell the girl who is flying that she shouldn’t be. L & S said, “they look mad.” We talked about Nina Crews used silhouettes to personify the crowds of naysayers – and how the girls have the color and focus on the page. When we explored the spread about the girl in the flowing scarves and a cowgirl hat, another participant pointed out, “she looks confident and brave.” Another participant noticed how “the building is slanted away from us and she’s standing upright, so she’s almost popping out of the building.” Another reader pointed out, “isn’t there a saying, on top of the world?” which is really the perfect way to express the emotions you feel looking at this spread. When we explored the spread with the girl swimming, someone pointed out that “her face makes it look like she’s trying to be a fish.” Ms. Ann commented, “This one is my favorite — she looks like a beautiful mermaid!!” Someone else added, “she looks like a dolphin too, when you see pictures of dolphins jumping out of the water.”

When the girls find community in the real world, people pointed out how much fun they are having with the capes and hats – and there are no grown-ups. We talked about how when the girls come together in the real world, walking past tall buildings, Nina Crews composed the real world elements to still feel fantastical. When we talked about the spread of the girls looking up at the butterflies on the way to the ocean, people pointed out how butterflies symbolize freedom and “they can do what they want.” Y & Z shared, “They chose butterflies because Monarchs migrate which means they are free.” We talked about the finale at the beach where they are all exploring their own interests. Another reader pointed out the buildings in the background, where they have journeyed from, perhaps swimming or boating to the beach. We talked about Nina Crews’ use of different geometric shapes throughout the book and what they symbolize. L. shared that “I think she used the stars because they are having fun.”

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

Mr. Brian began his picture walk of I Am Every Good Thing by sharing that the boy on the cover is the illustrator, Gordon C. James’s, son, Gabriel. Gordon C. James shared in an NPR interview, “My son is autistic, and so he doesn’t often get asked to do things or asked to be the center of things…It was powerful to illustrate his child “looking like how I feel he sees himself and how we see him as his family.” Mr. Brian shared how it is a celebration of joyful Black boyhood. He shared how the boys are doing different things throughout the book with the oil painting art sometimes being realistic and sometimes being expressionistic to show the feelings and moods the boys are feeling. We talked about how much we love the cover and how it makes you feel – and the sensory experience of the textured gold lettering.

We talked about how Derrick Barnes dedicated the book to Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, EJ Bradford, Jordan Edwards, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, and Julian Mallory, who were Black young people who were killed, who come from families who love them and are unconditionally deserving of love and a future. Gordon dedicated the book “to my son, Gabriel, and all little brothers like him.”

Our journey began with the flying boy. A reader shared, “I really like this picture because he looks like flying – but it really looks realistic like a regular kid who happens to have wings on him.” D. pointed out that the “cape looks like feathers of a bird.” Y & Z shared, “he’s going fast.”

Mr. Brian then pointed out how the next spread of the boys playing in the snow is more realistic. Ms. Ann pointed out the shadows on the spread make it look like “like during real winter.” We then talked about the skateboarding boy and how he felt after falling down. L. shared, “You can’t give up right away because you’d never do it again and then you would think about it and maybe want to try again.” Another reader shared how they did that with their bike. Our group noticed how determined he looks. L. shared that “I like the sole of his shoe.” (I literally never noticed it until this kid pointed it out, which is amazing!) Mr. Brian pointed out how Gordon C. James’ art draws your eye to the shoe and makes it look real.

Mr. Brian then showed how the next spread is more fantastical with the boy looking into the microscope and the other exploring space. He drew our attention to how the art in the background reveals what the boys are looking at, mixing molecules and the cosmos. L & S shared that “it seems like the book is showing different jobs.”

We talked about how Gordon C. James hired models to inspire the kids throughout the book, which helps make it all feel real. The next spread returns to realism with the boy standing with his grandmother “looking at something intently,” according to Y & Z.

Mr. Brian asked about the emotions on the “coooooooool breeze” spread with people pointing out how happy and silly the boys look. They personify that perfect paper airplane metaphor with the joyful fun they are having. On the next spread, L & S pointed out that “he seems like a star himself.”Mr. Brian asked if we’d want to join the boys having fun in the pool, which we wholeheartedly agreed we’d love to do. He talked about how the colorful art expresses this joy. Mr. Brian talked about how the art expresses movement on the page where he’s playing basketball and baseball.

On the next spread, the kids shared how he looks “serious and calm” when “people are saying bad things to him.” Ms. Ann pointed out he looks “strong with the halo behind him.” Mr. Brian shared how the words hurt but he doesn’t let them defeat him.

Mr. Brain shared how amazed he is by the versatility in the art in showing so many different experiences and settings to convey the themes of the book. As Gordon C. James shared, “I wanted through the illustrations for these kids to feel empowered …I want them all to feel like they belong everywhere, like there are no limits to the places they should be, or the things that they can be. No part of this life — this full, amazing life — should be off limits to you just because of who you are.”

Mr. Brian talked about the double-page spread showing their ancestors and successful Black men who have come before them – with the confident boys at the front of the spread, looking directly at the reader, happy and proud. We admired the final spread of the boy who is very expressive, declaring, “I am worthy to be loved.”

Good news! You can participate in the Penguin Kids #IAmEveryGoodThingContest. Here are the details: “Do your kids have their own affirmations like the ones in the uplifting picture book? We want to see them! Submit a photo of your kid holding a sign that says “I Am…” followed by a positive adjective for a chance to win a custom portrait from Gordon C. James! There are two ways to enter: 1) Share your photos on Instagram using the hashtag #IAmEveryGoodThingContest 2) Submit using this link. The contest ends November 30 – but sharing affirmations is forever.

We then took a quick movement break to get our wiggles out. People could participate by doing jumping jacks or whatever they preferred to move a bit after sitting through two picture walks.

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

Mr. Brian began the picture walk by asking us who likes graphic novels. Everyone’s hands went up. He shared how Minh Lê also loves graphic novels and wrote the amazing Green Lantern: Legacy graphic novel, which is illustrated by Andie Tong. (We’ll actually be discussing it at Books & Bites in the winter!) He shared that Dan Santat also loves graphic novels – and created Lift basically like a comic book brought to life. This is also a funny book, so he encouraged us to look for the comical expressions, body language, perspective, and camera angles!

Mr. Brian pointed out how Dan Santat shows motivation on the characters’ expressions and body language. We noticed how Iris is surprised by the baby pressing the button, then mad, and then green with envy. Then betrayal again! Mr. Brian shared how miserable everyone is after Iris presses all the buttons. He then pointed out how we’re looking up at Iris from the garbage can when she looking at the broken elevator button and what an innovative way it is to show perspective. (Is it just me or is the elevator repair man a Stan Lee cameo? Can we just make this canon?)

Mr. Brian showed the power of the dramatic page turn going from the button dinging and Iris traveling through the door. As A. pointed out, “welcome to Narnia.” Mr. Brian pointed out the realistic tiger in the jungle, connecting to the stuffed tiger in the real world. Ms. Ann pointed out, “The tiger has Iris’s name on its belly!! It must have been hers!” D. pointed out, “I think she wants to go back because she realizes the tiger is “her” tiger.” Mr. Brian showed how the art reveals how unhappy Iris is compared to how fun her sibling and babysitter are having – making it a hilarious sequence.

We had a great prediction suggesting that Iris would go to outer space. As Iris lifts off the floor, a reader pointed out that it looks like no gravity. After the dramatic page turn, Y & Z pointed out that “it looks like the International Space Station.” Ms. Laura pointed out, “that’s a magic button!”

Mr. Brian pointed out how Iris finally smiles after she has the lovely moment with her sibling reading Summit – and decides to bring them with her to the button. D. suggested, “There are snowflakes on the page with the cat as foreshadowing.” Ms. Ann added, “Kitty is going inside too!” (I’m here for a spin-off adventure with their cat…) A reader pointed out how the sibling was thinking about their story, Summit, which led them to their wintery imagined world. Laura added, “books take you places.” Mr. Brian pointed out how Iris is with her sibling at the final endpapers. We then had to share the case cover secret because it is glorious. We closed by asking everyone where would you want to go with a magic doorbell? Y & Z suggested Hogwarts. A. said, “to meet people.” Another reader said, “outer space since I want to be an astronaut when I grow up and I don’t really want to wait that long.”

Case cover secret!!

The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

I (Eti) began our picture walk by talking about how this This Old Truck is created by brothers, Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey, who are co-author-illustrators. I talked a bit about the process how they created this book with over 250 handmade stamps, challenging themselves with limitations to provoke creativity. Jarrett and Jerome shared their process with Jules Danielson on her invaluable blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: “Once we had stamps, we’d use them to make prints with black ink on Bristol board. If an object appeared on multiple spreads, we’d use the same stamp but make multiple prints, so each appearance of the object in the book would be unique. That was a rule we gave ourselves. Another rule was to never use the same stamp twice on the same spread. So even though all those trees kind of look the same, each one got its own stamp with its own print.”

We began our picture walk by predicting the setting, considering that maybe it’s by a greenhouse or about nature or farmlands. We talked about how the story starts even before you get to the title page, cold open style. (L& S even pointed out, “in the first picture before the title page the mom was pregnant.” What careful artist eyes!) We thought about how the Pumphreys use limitations creatively, using only 8 colors and using them well.

We discussed how the old truck worked long. One reader suggested how it could drive things to the market. We noticed how the colors shifted between spreads, subtly showing how the seasons have changed, perhaps also showing the transition to harvest time. We talked about how the perspective changed as we look straight ahead at the barn, but the truck never moves throughout the book. Also, I love the chickens and they are my favorite.

We talked about the dramatic tone shift as the girl/truck dream and sail the world and go on adventures. We pondered whether the girl was dreaming of the truck or the truck was dreaming of the girl. It got very metaphysical and I’m here for it. Y & Z. pointed out the great use of personification. L & S shared, it’s “showing her love for the truck.”

We talked how the art shows the passage of time as the truck and the girl grow older – and learns how to take care of the farm and the tractor. We noticed how the weeds around the old truck are growing with each spread. We talked about the illustrators used whitespace to show us the truck covered in snow. L & S said, “the truck is covered in snow.” D. said, it “helps us know the truck is under there because the truck stayed in the same place.” Another reader shared “it kind of looks perfect because the snow is only on the roof and windows of the house.”

Our group shared some predictions for what the new farmer – the girl all grown up – would do with the truck. Some suggested she would sell it or take it somewhere or maybe broke it. Y & Z shared “she fixed it and made it better.” We pointed out how the “but she dreamed and persisted” spread works like comic panels to show the passage of time and the hard work she put into fixing the truck.

A reader suggested how she made the fixed truck her own, likely replacing things to make it like she wants it. In the finale, after the “vroooom!!”, we see our chicken friends again who are startled by the car noise. On the next spread, we see her daughter on the truck, showing the generations of perseverance and persistence and hard work taking care of the land. I then shared how this book is inspired by the incredible women in Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey’s life.


After we had walked through each book in a whirlwind of color and conversation, we were ready to ballot. This year, since we met virtually, I created a google form for people to vote for their first and second choice. (If you’re interested in the technical details, I downloaded the results into an spreadsheet, changed the 1s to 3s (since 1st place gets 3 points, 2 gets 2) and then added up the totals. I then was able to screenshare to show how we got our results for full transparency. While we were waiting for everyone to vote (and for me to do the maths), we played a read aloud of I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes & Gordon C. James.

And the Session 1 Winners Are…

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

Join Us Next Time!

Please join us for our next Caldecott Club session on December 7, 2020 from 7:00-8:15pm CST! I am also working on creating Caldecott Club Grab & Go Kits to pick up at Lincolnwood Library. Register for the program here and we’ll contact you to pick up your free Grab & Go Program Kit through our curbside pick-up. You can also access our digital Grab & Go Kit at

Since you’ve spent all this time reading this post, I’ll even let you know which books we’ll be discussing. You can even watch us share the reveals below:

  • We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
  • The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X. Snow
  • Honeybee by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
  • You Matter by Christian Robinson


You can put Caldecott Club books on hold at our libraries here.

I have created a RESOURCE GUIDE with activities, videos, podcasts, program kit supplies, handouts, and more to share the sources we’ve used and continue the learning! We hope it will be useful for you to explore these books at home – and maybe even create your own Caldecott Club!

Thanks for sticking all the way through this post… I hope to see you next time at Caldecott Club!

 – Eti

Native American & Indigenous Heritage Month 2020

Posted & filed under Blog, Early Literacy, Youth & Teen.

Join us in celebrating Native, Indigenous and First Nations voices this November, which is Native American Heritage Month, throughout our library. The fantastic video below, created by co-founders of Little Cheiis, Wade M. Adakai (Diné (Navajo) & Antonio Ramirez (Navajo/Hopi), offers the history and origins of Native American Heritage Month.

Last year we created several book and interactive displays in our Youth & Teen Services department for Native American Heritage Month. This year we’ve expanded our displays throughout our library across all genres and ages by Native and First Nations creators. There’s truly something for everybody – all year round! Visit us any time to borrow any of these fantastic books and take a copy of our resources. You can also use the links below to put books on hold to pick up at your convenience. They also make excellent gifts from your local indie bookshop.

Book Displays

Adult & Teen

For a full list of recommended adult books, click here.

For a full list of recommended teen books, click here.

We also have included resources and Change the Story infographics from Illuminatives in our display. You can learn more and take action here.

We have also added an invaluable resource to help advocate for more incredible, authentic books by Native creators to be published. The Diversity in Children’s books 2018 Infographic* shows the “percentage of books depicting characters from diverse backgrounds based on the 2018 publishing statistics compiled by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).” Please take a copy of the infographic postcard, which includes the infographic and resources to take action and learn more on the back. You can see the 2019 CCBC Diversity Statistics here.

Middle Grade

For a full list of recommended middle grade books, click here.

For a full list of recommended informational books, click here.

Picture Books

For a full list of recommended picture books, click here.

Listening Stations

This year we have innovated to create touchless listening stations where patrons can listen to incredible audiobooks/read alouds from Native creators. You can use a smartphone to scan the QR code on our signs, which takes you the readalong book in Hoopla to listen with your headphones.

You can create your own listening station at home (or in your classroom/library), too! You can listen while reading your copy of the print book or even while you do an activity from the activity guides. (Thank you to Lisa for making this beautiful signs.)

Listen to the award-winning readalong audiobook of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation) & illustrated by Frané Lessac on Hoopla! Read by Cherokee citizens Lauren Hummingbird, Agalisiga (Choogie) Mackey, Ryan Mackey, Traci Sorell, & Tonia Hogner-Weavel. You can listen here on Hoopla. You can access an incredible activity & discussion guide and coloring sheets here.

Listen to the readalong audiobook of the award-winning book, Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Mekusukey band of the Seminole Nation), illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. Read by Kevin Noble Maillard. You can listen here on Hoopla. You can access an activity and discussion guide here.

Listen to the read aloud of We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (Anishinabe/Métis and is a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians) and illustrated by Michaela Goade (member of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska). You can access an activity and discussion guide here.

We also have a Grab n’ Go Gratitude Jar activity that you can pick up in the Great Green Box or inside the library. It is inspired by ThankU: Poems of Gratitude, edited by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan, Muscokee Creek). You can read it right now without waiting on Hoopla! The Editor’s Note to Educators and Parents in ThankU is a valuable resource to discuss and focus on gratitude all year.

Digital Resources for Learning More about Native, Indigenous, and First Nations Peoples

We have compiled resources that we hope can be helpful. This is NOT an exhaustive or definitive list of resources, but a collection of tools and resources we have found useful and informative as we have been curating our display and continuously learning more. The descriptions are from their websites. We put together a paper brochure in our displays for patrons to take, explore, & share. We’ve adapted the handout to make it accessible online here.


Native Land

This is a resource for North Americans (and others) to find out more about local Indigenous territories and languages.

Reclaiming Native Truth

Reclaiming Native Truth is a national effort to foster cultural, social and policy change by empowering Native Americans to counter discrimination, invisibility and the dominant narratives that limit Native opportunity, access to justice, health and self-determination. Reclaiming Native Truth’s goal is to move hearts and minds toward greater respect, inclusion and social justice for Native Americans. It was co-designed and co-led by IllumiNative founder Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma) and Echo Hawk Consulting.

Native Knowledge 360°

Native Knowledge 360° (NK360°) from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian provides educators and students with new perspectives on Native American history and cultures. NK360° provides educational materials and teacher training that incorporate Native narratives, more comprehensive histories, and accurate information to enlighten and inform teaching and learning about Native America.

Molly of Denali (Teaching Resources Collection)

Informational text and Alaska Native culture form the basis of the groundbreaking Molly of Denali series and its educational resources. This collection offers videos, digital games, lessons, teaching tips, and activities so that educators can utilize the series in the classroom and home.

Living Nations, Living Words (signature project from Joy Harjo, 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States)

Each location marker reveals a Native Nations poet and features an image, biography, and a link to hear the poet recite and comment on an original poem. This body of work forms the foundation of a “Living Nations, Living Words” online collection in the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center.

Find & Evaluate Books

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Established in 2006 by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books. Dr. Jean Mendoza joined AICL as a co-editor in 2016.

Indigo’s Bookshelf: Voices of Native Youth

“Florida” Seminole & Miccosukee teens review books by and about Native peoples and comment on other news of interest to their communities.

American Indian Youth Literature Award

Awarded biennially, the AIYLA identifies and honors the very best writing and illustrations by and about Native Americans and Indigenous peoples of North America.

Teacher and Librarian Resources for Native American Children’s and Young Adult Books

Cynthia Leitich Smith, a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is a best-selling, award-winning children’s-YA writer, writing teacher, and the author-curator of the Native-centered Heartdrum imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books. This bibliography is compiled in hopes of improving education related to Native peoples and Nations. (Cynthia’s entire website is an invaluable resource.)

You can learn more about Heartdrum here! You know we’ll be ordering all the Heartdrum books (and raffling off ARCS we just received from the publisher!)! Check out the graphic below from Heartdrum to behold all the beautiful books coming in 2021. “Heartdrum is the first Native imprint at a major children’s publisher. In uplifting and centering Native voices, Heartdrum offers a wide variety of heartfelt, groundbreaking, and unexpected stories by Native creators. Heartdrum books place an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes.”


Empower Native Kids to Read by Aliyah Chavez (Kewa Pueblo) (Indian Country Today)

How Native Writers Talk Story: Honoring Authentic Voices in Books for Young People by ​​​​​​​Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek Nation) and Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation) (School Library Journal)

Native Perspectives: Books by, for, and about Indigenous People: Great Books by ​​​​​​​Kara Stewart (Sappony) (School Library Journal)

Unteaching the Native Narrative by Kara Stewart (Sappony) (School Library Journal)

“Readers are Realizing their Hunger for our Stories:” Native Literature for Kids and Teens by Kelly Jensen (Book Riot)

Cynthia Leitich Smith and Rosemary Brosnan Talk with Roger by Roger Sutton (Horn Book)


Native America Calling

Native America Calling is a live call-in program linking public radio stations, the Internet and listeners together in a thought-provoking national conversation about issues specific to Native communities.


Unreserved is the radio space for Indigenous community, culture, and conversation. Past host Rosanna Deerchild (O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation) & current host Falen Johnson (Mohawk and Tuscarora (Bear Clan) from Six Nations Grand River Territory) take you straight into Indigenous Canada, from Halifax to Haida Gwaii, from Shamattawa to Ottawa, introducing listeners to the storytellers, culture makers and community shakers from across the country.

All My Relations

All My Relations is a team of folks who care about representations, and how Native peoples are represented in mainstream media. Hosts Matika Wilbur (Tulalip and Swinomish) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation), delve into a different topic facing Native peoples today, bringing in guests from all over Indian Country to offer perspectives and stories.

This Land

Hosted by Rebecca Nagle, a citizen of Cherokee Nation. An 1839 assassination of a Cherokee leader and a 1999 murder case – two crimes nearly two centuries apart provide the backbone to a 2020 Supreme Court decision that determined the fate of five tribes and nearly half the land in Oklahoma.


Kīwew is a five-part podcast in which Governor General award-winning author David A. Robertson (Norway House Cree Nation) dives into his family’s history and mysteries as he discovers and connects with his Cree identity.

Learning Opportunities

NK360° Webinars: Giving Thanks: Telling More Complete Narratives About Thanksgiving (Native Knowledge 360° from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian)

Session 1 (11/10, 6pm CST): Engage with primary sources and artwork to grapple with the mythology of the “First Thanksgiving”. Teachers will identify how misrepresentations contribute to the false narratives around the First Thanksgiving and its participants.

Session 2 (11/17, 6pm CST): Learn about the food traditions practiced by different Native communities, as well as why some communities give thanks throughout the year. Teachers will then engage with suggested resources and discuss appropriate strategies they can use in their classrooms.

Black and Indigenous Storytelling as Counter-History (11/11 at 3pm CST)

For untold centuries, storytelling has been foundational to the ways Black and Indigenous people understand and connect to the world around them. However, knowledge systems upheld in academic settings continually disavow these narratives and those who hold them as valid sites of intellectual production. For BIPOC heritage professionals, storytelling taps into historically marginalized ways of knowing. It offers ways to reclaim and retell histories that often counter the harmful and one-sided narratives told about Black and Indigenous peoples through archaeology, museums, and heritage sites. In this webinar, we explore storytelling through artifacts, cultural landscapes, comics, graphic novels, and video games as a means of counter-history, illuminating new ways of imagining pasts, presents, and futures for Black and Indigenous people. Panelists will discuss how they engage storytelling as an intellectual entryway to interpretations of the material evidence of Black and Indigenous histories.

Rethinking Thanksgiving: History, Holidays, and Gratitude (11/12 at 12:30pm CST)

Award-winning authors Kate Messner and Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation) offer a thought-provoking author visit based on their books about the real history of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, the myth of the “First Thanksgiving,” and modern-day Native traditions of gratitude.

A Discussion of Contemporary Native Children’s Literature with Authors Traci Sorell and Carla Messinger (11/12 at 3pm CST)

Join Lee & Low Books as they discuss high-quality, #ownvoices and contemporary Native literature, classroom applications, and ways to make sure that you are teaching about modern Native history authentically and accurately in your relevant setting. Authors Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation), and Carla Messinger (Turtle Clan Lenape) will share their insights, experiences and knowledge about their writing processes, tips and strategies for selecting quality Native literature, and applicable classroom activities.

Our local library system, Chicago Public Library, is offering an incredible variety of Native American Heritage Month and beyond programs online from Finding Home: An Indigenous Perspective on Land, Language and Identity with Dr. Anton Treuer (11/10), Honoring Native Voices: A Book Talk with Librarian Cindy Hohl (11/14), Climate Activism with the Chicago Chapter of the International Indigenous Youth Council (12/2) and more!

We’d love to hear what you’ve learned and read during this month – and ways you plan to continue learning.

*Citation: Huyck, David and Sarah Park Dahlen. (2019 June 19). Diversity in Children’s Books 2018. blog. Created in consultation with Edith Campbell, Molly Beth Griffin, K. T. Horning, Debbie Reese, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Madeline Tyner, with statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Retrieved from

Program Workshop: Comics and Drawing Workshop with Author Jarod Rosello

Posted & filed under Blog, Uncategorized, Youth & Teen.

Jarod Rosello, author of Red Panda and Moon Bear, lead a workshop on drawing techniques as well as storytelling. Check out some of the highlights as well as the works in process that all participants made as a group

Learning about when to use text (to describe mood) vs. drawings (establish setting, characters)

What makes a good character to draw in a comic (repeatable, distinguished)

Ways to outline a story (have an endpoint)

Ways and prompts to warm up drawing and get your creative juices flowing

Drawing an alien – all participants gave their input on how it should look

creating our own story and comic and at the end with our new characters

Be sure to check out Red Panda and Moon Bear, Books & Bites With Eti, Caldecott Club, and other programs related to graphic novels and drawing!