Thursday, May 12, 2011

Code Talker by J. Bruchac

Bruchac, J. (2005). Code talker. New York, NY. Dial Books. 231 pp (Grade Level: 7th+)

            Ned is a Navajo Indian who is sent to a White boarding school. At this cruel institution, the teachers and administrators strip the Native Americans of everything that identifies them as such; including clothing, long hair, their language, and they even give the children new 'White' names. During their schooling, the children are told that nothing good can come of Navajos, and that their language and their identity as a Navajo Indian are useless. When America goes to war with the Japanese when Ned is 16, he wants to help. He wants to serve his country and help the war effort. Eventually he makes it into the Marines, and is given an important, top-secret job.
            Code Talker is written in first person, as a grandfather telling a story to his grandchildren. It was a very intriguing read began a curiosity in me about this era. Although it is a war book, the descriptions of the actual wars and battles were low key, only the sorts of details a grandfather would share with his grandchildren were shared. This would make a great read aloud, except for all the Navajo words in the text that were nearly impossible to sound out. This would be a great supplement for a World War Two unit, or even on early American history and the way Americans treated Native Americans. Because it is a relatively long book, and doubtful that the whole class could read it together, I would suggest accumulating an assortment of books that have to do with the era being studied and let the students browse the books and choose which ones they want to read during silent reading time. 

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