Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac is a must-have in every 3rd-6th grade classroom library. Written from the point of view of Squanto, it provides the often silenced Native American perspective on interactions with settlers from Europe. Squanto’s Journey shines a light on the harsh treatment of the Native Americans during these initial encounters.
For example, in 1614 Squanto and several other Natives were invited aboard a ship under the guise of sharing a feast, when in reality they were captured and taken to Spain where they were to be sold as slaves. Squanto was brave and determined to return back to his homeland. With the Friar’s help, he made his way to England. There he worked hard to master the English language, realizing that he could be of great value if he could serve as a translator between the English and the Native Americans.
Squanto’s Journey portrays the tensions between the Natives and the settlers. It teaches of the violence between the groups as well as an underlying distrust. It reveals that huge numbers of Natives were wiped out by sicknesses brought on by the settlers.
Despite all of this, the Natives played an integral role in the survival of the Pilgrims during this time. Throughout the story, Squanto remains optimistic that the Native Americans and settlers will be able to share the land peacefully.
Squanto’s Journey is an important picture book because it provides the point of view of an important figure in the history of the United States. It is a great way to introduce different perspectives and engage students in an open dialogue the real impact the settlers had on the Native Americans and their land. This picture book is ideal for children ages 7-12.
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