In last month’s Library Connect Blog, Ellie introduced this year’s Rogue Reads adult selection, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Rogue Reads is Jackson County Library Services’ annual event where we encourage our community to read and discuss the same books, from December through February. Rogue Reads introduces four books related to the themes of indigeneity, community, and the environment. There is a different title for each age group to allow participants of all ages to take part. While the books were written for different audiences, we suggest you consider reading more than one. We think you will enjoy them all. We certainly have.

In this post, I will be focusing on the three titles chosen for younger readers. They are:

Youngest Audience/Picture Book: We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom & illustrated by Michaela Goade

School-age Audience: Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis

Teen/Young Adult Audience: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

We are Water Protectors is a lyrical story, inspired by various Indigenous-led movements fighting to protect water sources in North America. Readers are encouraged to stand up for environmental justice and take a pledge to be an “Earth Steward and Water Protector.” The illustrations by Michaela Goade are stunning and it’s worth looking at the book for those alone. MacMillan, the book’s publisher, has created a free, downloadable Activity Kit. The kit includes discussion questions, activities for kids, and more. It is available in both English and Spanish.

Indian No More is a historical fiction novel with a local connection. It is about an Umpqua family living on the Grand Ronde Tribe reservation near Salem, Oregon, in the 1950s. It begins after the U.S. government issued a decree terminating the tribal rights of the Umpqua. The Bureau of Indian Affairs moves 5th grader, Regina, and her family to Los Angeles. Regina struggles to adapt to an entirely new lifestyle from what she was used to on the reservation. Racism, friendship, and what it means to be home are some of the themes in this book. I was shocked to learn about a time in our country’s history where the government could suddenly and arbitrarily decree an Indigenous tribe no longer existed. We have put together a Discussion Guide, in English & Spanish, with more information.

The Marrow Thieves is our Teen/Young Adult selection. While Indian No More deals with the past, The Marrow Thieves imagines a future in a world that has been devastated by the effects of global warming. People have lost their ability to dream, and widespread madness is taking over. Only North American Indigenous people have retained the ability to dream. They also hold the cure, their marrow, but sharing it comes at a huge cost. French and his companions are being hunted by “Recruiters,” who want to bring them to schools and take their marrow. The schools are a reference to the Indian Boarding Schools in the late 1800s and early 1900s that attempted to strip Native children of their culture. Discussion Guides in English and Spanish are available for this title as well. Additionally, you can check out a Book Club Bag with 10 copies of The Marrow Thieves if you have a group who would like to read it together.

During Rogue Reads, the library is offering programs and Take & Make craft kits that relate to these books. In December, teens picked up dream journals to personalize and write in. Information about dream journaling as a mindfulness practice was included. If you missed it, we’re including the information that was part of the kit at the bottom of this post. Grab a notebook, decorate it if you’d like, and then start journaling your dreams. In January, we are handing out Take & Make kits to complement We are Water Protectors. Young children will learn first-hand that oil and water do not mix with this science and art activity. School age children will make friendship bracelets in February’s Take & Make, to go along with the friendship theme in Indian No More. We hope everyone in your family will join us in celebrating Rogue Reads this year. Find out about all the events and Take & Makes on our Event Calendar. Be sure to check out the Rogue Reads featured program on February 23rd, a talk with Robin Wall Kimmerer, the author of the adult book pick, Braiding Sweetgrass.

If you’d like to keep track of your Rogue Reads participation, as well as log any other books you read during this time, register here to take part in the Rogue Reads reading challenge. Keep track of the number of books you read on the Beanstack App and be entered for prize drawings. There are also paper logs available at your local branch. The reading challenge is for all ages. Happy Rogue Reading!