My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This board book has several features which earn it high ratings and a place in my ESL classroom: It features photos of children in their cradleboards from almost a dozen Native American nations. The first page encourages readers to say each word (smiling, thinking, sleepy) in their own language. The words themselves are state-of-being words that help beginning students with self-expression and communicating needs and wants.
Perhaps most importantly: although this book is clearly a celebration of an education about Native cultures, it does not separate them from every other culture’s life. Many of my ESL students (and perhaps too many US-born students) think that Native American cultures are a thing of the past, not a part of the world today. Books that focus on the historic contributions of Native Americans, while having an important place on an educator’s bookshelf, may also accidentally help perpetuate that belief. The approach of Cradle Me is an important balance, showing readers from all cultures that Native American children are important simply as children, with both modern lives and long-standing traditions, children who can be happy or sad or thoughtful, without always being a monolithic group who spend their time showing Europeans how to grow food or find the Pacific Ocean. Instead, choosing one thing many cultures have in common also allows readers to see the differences between them.