My Powerful Hair by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Steph Littlebird

Published by Harry N. Abrams

Summary:  The narrator can’t wait to grow her hair out, believing, as her ancestors did, that hair is a source of strength and memories.  Her mother has always had short hair, having been forced to have it cut at an Indian school and always being told that it was too wild to wear long.  As the girl grows up, she marks important days by how long her hair is and weaves the memory of each day into her hair.  When her grandfather dies, she cuts her hair and sends it with him into the spirit world.  Her mother decides to join her when she begins the journey of growing her hair long again.  Includes an author’s note about indigenous people’s beliefs about hair and her own family’s experience with Indian boarding schools where children were forced to have their hair cut.  48 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  A fascinating story that brings to light an aspect of Native American culture that may not be familiar to many readers, and also shows, yet again, the disastrous impact of boarding schools on that culture.  The narrator’s decision to undo the trauma of several generations is inspiring.  I loved the illustrations, which look like they have been painted on wood with brilliant, vibrant colors.

Cons:  I didn’t fully understand the mother’s decision to keep her hair short until I read the author’s note at the end.

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