Guest Post: Nancy Bo Flood – "Where Can I Find a Book for My Child? – Literacy Projects on the Navajo Nation"
We are delighted to welcome author and educator Nancy Bo Flood as a guest on the PaperTigers Blog. Nancy has lived and worked in several different cultures, including Japan, Hawaii, Malawi, Samoa and Saipan of Micronesia, the setting for her most recent book, Warriors in the Crossfire. We will be reviewing it soon; in the meantime, do read Julie Larios’ interview with Nancy, in which she talks about the book’s background.
Nancy now lives on the Navajo Nation Reservation, in northern Arizona, where she teaches and promotes literacy. In this, the first of two Guest Posts, she highlights some of the projects working to bring books to Navajo children and young people:
It was my first class teaching for Diné College in Tuba City, Arizona. I asked students to buy a dictionary and bring it to class. Our campus building had no library, no dictionaries.
The next week I drove through a sandstorm to get to class; my students had done the same after watering livestock and getting their children to school. Not one student brought a dictionary. Why not? It turns out the nearest bookstore was two hours away. That meant a lot of driving time, a lot of money for gas. This was the beginning of my education about the need for books and libraries across the Navajo Nation.
Here are some resources I have found:
Tuba City Outreach Library
The Navajo Nation extends into Arizona, New Mexico and southern Utah. It is about as big as New England (without Maine) but has only one official public library. Almost no bookstores exist. On the western side of the Reservation the small Tuba City Outreach Library is sponsored by Coconino County / Flagstaff. For the past 10 years I have worked with the librarian, Trish Polacca, to develop the children’s and teen sections.
We’ve worked hard to get books through donations, private foundations, my graduation class’s community service and through a used book store in Flagstaff. Finding “appropriate books” is another challenge. Picture books with contemporary, non-stereotyped images of children who are Native American are hard to find, new or used.
In 2009 I worked with ARA to collect left-over books from vendors at the annual IRA convention in Phoenix. These books were distributed to local literacy organizations and school libraries. There is a full description of this project in the Spring-Summer issue of Arizona Reading Journal, Vol XXXV, 2009. Next time, we will ask attendees to bring books to donate – or buy books at the conference to donate.
This national organization was begun over 20 years ago and has grown into a nationwide project giving free new books and literacy guidance to children at their regular pediatric check-ups. As a board member of the Arizona coalition, we have worked to bring books to health clinics throughout Arizona, including the Navajo and Hopi Nations.
A new coalition was formed in 2007 to focus on children who receive health care at Indian Health Service Clinics, or tribal or urban Indian Health Centers.
Save the Children
Supports programs and purchases books.
Supplies low cost books but is in danger of being eliminated from the Federal budget.
How lucky we are to have a dictionary – or a good book – or hundreds – within the click of a computer key, on the shelf above our desk, or in any nearby library.
I hope these descriptions help brainstorm ways to bring books to children. Every child should have a good book!
Nancy Bo Flood
And thank you, Nancy.
Spirit of PaperTigers Book Sets will soon be on their way to the Tuba City Outreach Library and to Chinle school, and we look forward to sharing their feedback with you… In the meantime, Nancy has also drawn my attention to Cynsations’ post yesterday about this year’s Operation TBD (Teen Book Drop). Coordinated by readergirlz, Guys Lit Wire and YALSA, Operation TBD has joined forces for this, its third year, with If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything, a national Reading Club for Native American children. On 15th April, thousands of donated books will drop into the hands of teens on Native American tribal lands. There’s still time to get involved – just click on any of the links above…