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Book Review: Crazy Horse's Vision {Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop}

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month 

Native American Heritage Month is coming up soon (in November). It offers a great opportunity to teach children about Native American history and culture. With my sons, Wild Thing and Caterpillar, I've found that children's books, cultural events and unique outings allow my children to actively engage as they begin learning about Native American history and culture. 
I received a copy of this book from Lee and Low Books in order to review it.
Recently, we've been reading Crazy Horse's Vision written by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by S.D. Nelson. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful illustrations, which look painted. I worried, though, that with 2-3 short paragraphs per page, my boys might not sit and listen as I read the entire book to them. But, they both listened intently.

Crazy Horse's Vision tells the story of Crazy Horse before he was Crazy Horse, when he was a baby and a young boy called Curly, and then as he grew up to be a man, who would, ultimately, lead his people. This time period in his life also overlaps with the first white settlers coming to the area where the Lakota lived and shows a glimpse of the strife and violence that came from these early encounters. We learn that Crazy Horse feels that he will need to defend his people, and thus goes on a vision quest. (Wild Thing thought Crazy Horse's vision quest as similar to Luke Skywalker going to the Dagobah system to find Master Yoda and seeing a vision of Darth Vader).

What Crazy Horse learns is that to help his people, he must keep nothing for himself. The book captivate and engages and can be used, for older children, as a starting point for learning more about the Lakota and the Battle of Little Bighorn, which is not part of the book, but is glimpsed through the inside cover page artwork. (For my young children, I'll wait to teach them about the battle). 

When I asked my sons what they liked about the book, Caterpillar shared that he loved the horses in the book, and Wild Thing liked Crazy Horse's vision as he rides his horse through a thunderstorm. He also asked me if the story was make-believe or real, which gave me an opportunity to teach him more about Native American history. Through Lee and Low, you can view illustrations from the book, learn more about it and find teaching ideas and resources for learning about the Lakota.

Another way we teach our children about Native American culture is by attending cultural events. A city near our small town hosts an annual Hart of the West Pow Wow and Native American Craft Fair each September. The boys enjoyed watching the various performances at the event, creating their own "cave paintings" and much more. Caterpillar especially loved the big drums, and it reminded me that many Native Americans are also Veterans. 

Finally, another way to teach children about Native American history and culture is to look for outings and sites to visit. In Carpinteria, near Santa Barbara, we discovered the Tomol Interpretative Play Area near Carpinteria State Beach. Not only is this play area lots of fun, but it also offers a rich learning experience as many of the play structures are inspired by the Chumash, a tribe that originally lived in this area. The play structure includes two sweat houses and an "ap" as climbing structures as well as a canoe. The bridge at the play area is a manifestation of the Chumash legend of the Rainbow Bridge. 
Image copyright of NaturePlayground via Fun Orange County Parks
Our boys love this play area and we do too! 
Daddy hanging out in the canoe at Tomol Interpretative Play Area.
How do you learn about Native American culture and history with your children? If this is part of your own family history and heritage, I'd love to hear how you pass that heritage on to your children. Shared at: After School Link Up Party


  1. Wow, those events and the interpretive center look amazing! And I love the book - will have to check it out!

  2. I so enjoyed your post. My grands have Indian Heritage from my husband. We visited the Crazy Horse Monument a few years ago.

  3. Great collection of resources. Did some research on Crazy Horse for my Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE book, in which I covered the Native American viewpoint as well.

  4. What great ways of teaching them more about Native American culture. The book looks wonderful as well.

  5. You have found some amazing books about Native Americans lately. I am loving all of them! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday!


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