Native Traditions Help Kids Unplug, Read and Be Healthy

March 1, 2013

Kids Take NEA Reader's Oath on National Read Across America DayToday, March 1, 2013, is the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day which kicks off Read Across America Week where people are encouraged to read to children and children are encouraged to read for themselves. And tomorrow is the birthday of Dr Seuss, who is known for writing children’s books. Coincidentally, from sunset tonight March 1 to sunset March 2 has also been declared National Day of Unplugging, when we are urged to unplug ourselves from all our gadgets and technology such as smartphones, laptops, and MP3 players.

Image: School children take NEA’s Read Across America Reader’s Oath. Source: NEA

Thus, it’s a perfect time to read to and with your kids. Reading events, both public and private, are being held nationwide, from schools and public libraries to houses of worship and homes as adults and children unplug and read.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Native Diabetes Wellness Program (Wellness Program), in collaboration with the Indian Health Service (IHS) Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention and the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee (TLDC), created the perfect series of children’s books to help encourage kids to read and live a healthy lifestyle.

CDC-Eagle-Book-Series for child diabetes prevention nutrition and physical fitnessCalled the Eagle Book Series. all of the stories reflect long-held traditional values of American Indian / Alaska Native people – respect, gratitude, and generosity – while teaching the universal wisdom of healthy eating and physical activity. Throughout the series, a young Native boy and his friends learn about healthy habits from Mr. Eagle, Miss Rabbit, and Coyote.

Vividly brought to life by the colorful illustrations of talented American Indian artists Patrick Rolo (Bad River Band of Ojibwe, Wisconsin) and Lisa A. Fifield (Black Bear Clan of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin), these charming and educational stories by Georgia Perez have become the award-winning Eagle Book series:

  1. Through the Eyes of the Eagle,
  2. Knees Lifted High,
  3. Plate Full of Color, and
  4. Tricky Treats.

Measuring 16 X 19 inches, these books are sized perfectly for reading to a group of first through third grade children at school, daycare, in a library, or at home.

Thru-Eyes-of-the-EagleThrough the Eyes of the Eagle

“Through the Eyes of the Eagle” is the first book in the Eagle Book Series and introduces the character of Mr. Eagle. Mr. Eagle befriends Rain That Dances, the primary child character in the book, to educate him about diabetes and how the lifestyles and health of the people have changed. Mr. Eagle has come to remind the children of the healthy ways of their ancestors so that they can be strong and healthy again.

Knees-Lifted-HighKnees Lifted High

“Knees Lifted High,” the second book in the Eagle Book Series, continues the story with Mr. Eagle and Rain That Dances, and introduces a new character, Thunder Cloud, Rain That Dances’ best friend. Mr. Eagle shares the knowledge that lack of movement (inadequate physical activity) contributes to development of type 2 diabetes. He encourages the boys to find ways of being active just as their ancestors were. He elicits ideas from the boys on ways to get their bodies up and moving

Plate-Full-of-colorPlate Full of Color

“Plate Full of Color,” the third book in the Eagle Book Series, introduces Miss Rabbit and the boys’ friend, Little Hummingbird. Miss Rabbit s a helper. She wants to teach the young children about ways they can prevent diabetes and help adults learn about preventing and controlling the disease. Rain That Dances, Thunder Cloud and Little Hummingbird listen to Miss Rabbit explain how Mother Earth provides wonderfully healthy things to eat.

Tricky-TreatsTricky Treats

“Tricky Treats,” the fourth book in the Eagle Book Series, continues the theme of healthy food by encouraging children to choose nutritional value in foods and beverages. This story introduces the character of Coyote who initially challenges the healthy messages offered by Mr. Eagle.

Tricksters, such as the coyote, are traditional characters in American Indian stories and literature who cannot be trusted because of their jokes and tricks. The trickster often comes around in the end as in this story. In the book, Mr. Eagle encourages the children to choose healthy snacks and not be tricked into using foods and beverages that are not healthy for them. Healthy foods are identified as “everyday foods,” while less optimal choices are described as “sometimes foods.” Mr. Eagle teaches the children about food safety and the importance of not taking things that belong to someone else.

NEA has a Read Across America Reader’s Oath by Debra Angstead, Missouri-NEA, a Read Across America song and this wonderful Dr. Seuss-inspired Read Across America poem that says it better than we can:

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you’ve got.

In schools and communities,
Let’s gather around,
Let’s pick up a book,
Let’s pass it around.

There are kids all around you,
Kids who will need
Someone to hug,
Someone to read.

Come join us March 1st
Your own special way
And make this America’s
Read to Kids Day.

How can I buy the Eagle Book Series?

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Cooking (and Eating) With Uncle Sam

June 20, 2011

 The National Archives  just opened a new exhibit that has piqued my interest. “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” is intended to “explore the records of the National Archives that trace the Government’s effect on what Americans eat.” Although I haven’t had a chance to visit the exhibit yet, it’s been getting great press in the New York Times (subscription required, I’m afraid) and the Washington Post.

Awhile back I discussed one of the Government’s efforts to inform the public about food preparation: Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes. In those days, thrifty, filling meals were the order of the day – comfort food that could nourish people struggling through the Great Depression with very little spare cash.The Government is still a player in the food game today, but now the problem seems to be obesity rather than malnutrition. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has replaced its venerable Food Pyramid with MyPlate, but the aim remains the same: educating the public on portion control and which foods to increase or decrease in the American diet.

This brings me to another 2011 Library Journal notable Government document: the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Grow It, Try It, Like It: Preschool Fun with Fruits and Vegetables, a kit aimed at parents and teachers who want to provide young children with food and nutrition information in a fun way while teaching them all kinds of other things, like growing and cooking vegetables. Kids can improve their small motor skills while getting their hands dirty in a constructive way and then serve up the results – and maybe even acquire a taste for fruits and veggies, that perennial hope of parents everywhere. The kit includes seven booklets, with names like “Spinach Lane,” “Sweet Potato Hill,” and “Peach Tree Orchard,” each one explaining a particular fruit or vegetable’s nutritional value, how to grow it, recipes, and lots more. There are plenty of puzzles and other fun activities, too. Since we’re way past Aunt Sammy these days, technologically speaking, the kit also includes a CD-ROM with more information and a DVD of “Cool Puppy Pup’s Picnic and Lunch Parties.”

So what’s cooking at the Federal level? Quite a bit! You can view Grow It, Try It, Like It here or browse through its components in a library. I suspect that even a lot of us who are way past the Cool Puppy Pup stage might learn something from these booklets – I didn’t inherit my grandmother’s green thumb, so maybe they could actually help me grow some of this stuff!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,292 other followers

%d bloggers like this: