Nokum Is My Teacher

Nokum Is My Teacher

by David Bouchard
illustrated by Alan Sapp
Red Deer Press, 2018
ISBN 978-0-88995-367-3 (hc)
$24.95, 32 pp, CD, ages 6 – 10

Nokum Is My Teacher relates the story of a grandson in conversation with his elder questioning the necessity of learning to read and of gaining a greater understanding of the world outside the reservation in contrast to knowledge of his heritage through oral traditions. Though she never gives a definitive answer, the wise elder uses Socratic dialogue to lead the child to the realization that he can learn more about both worlds through reading. This is a cross-curricular text which integrates the Cree language, beautiful illustrations by famed artist Alan Sapp, and a musical accompaniment on CD by Northern Cree, the Grammy award nominated group for best native album.

Classroom Connections: There is lots of opportunity to use this book in several curriculum areas. Certainly, the text can introduce young and reluctant readers to the importance of books and the messages that can be learned through reading; but also, a teacher might want to use the exquisite pictures to teach concepts of Indigenous culture throughout history. The pictures in the book contrast the traditional and modern lifestyles of the Cree. The CD includes music and text in English and Cree. This can add to the understanding of syntax and cadence in language. The drumming alone can be used to describe the roles that music and drumming play in culture. I can hardly wait to experiment with this book in my own classes as I expose my students to the rich heritage of Cree culture.

Review by Kent Miller.

This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Spring 2018 issue.

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