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    Native Author Joseph Bruchac Visits Licton Springs K-8
    Posted on 01/21/2020
    The author talks with a group of students on a stage in a school auditorium

    Native Author Joseph Bruchac Visits Licton Springs K-8

    On Tuesday, January 14, author Joseph Bruchac visited Licton Springs K-8 to perform songs and tell stories for kindergarten through 3rd grade students. Bruchac is a tribal member of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation and his latest book, Skeleton Man, is part of Seattle Public Library’s Global Reading Challenge.

    The Global Reading Challenge is a reading incentive program for 4th and 5th grade students, where students form teams and read 10 books, then take part in a trivia competition to determine a winning team. It’s a great way for Seattle Super Readers to build their reading comprehension super power, while having fun and experiencing the joy of reading.

    As Mr. Bruchac appeared on the stage, students were encouraged to come up onto the stage to sit around him as he performed songs and told stories that were passed down from generation to generation. He began with a song that he performed on a Native American flute, and then greeted the students in his native language by saying “Hello, my friends.” Joseph, which also means “the peaceful one,” also talked to the students about the importance of listening. “We have two ears and one mouth,” said Bruchac, “and being a good listener is the first step in becoming knowledgeable.”

    He began with a story titled, “Skunny-Wundy and the Stone Giant,” an Iroquois legend about a brave boy who liked to play tricks on people and used his wit to defeat a stone giant. Throughout the story, students were laughing and fully engaged in the story as Bruchac used a variety of voices for each of the characters.

    After he finished the first story, Bruchac emphasized the importance of learning through storytelling. “We can learn from more than just books and libraries,” Bruchac said. “We can also learn by listening to stories…you can even learn from stories from your ancestors!” Seattle Super Readers are always encouraged to build their literacy skills by listening to stories and reading with their families.

    Mr. Bruchac performed the Seneca Canoe Song next, a song that was sung by natives to announce their peaceful arrival on distant shores. He then told another Iroquois legend that accompanied the song, called “Little Turtle Goes to War” about a turtle who wanted to gather his fellow animals to go to war with the humans, but eventually finds that peace is easier than war.

    After the story, Bruchac allowed time for students to ask questions. They asked questions like, “When did you start writing?” or, “What was the first book you wrote?” and, “What was your inspiration for Skeleton Man?” Bruchac talked about his history of writing stories (he published his first book in 1971) and his love for writing (which is why he always carries around a journal for when inspiration strikes). He encouraged students to keep reading and listening to stories, because they may just learn something about themselves in the process. Read a review of Bruchac's Skeleton Man.

    Superintendent Denise Juneau, School Board Director Chandra Hampson, Native Education Manager Gail Morris, and Seattle Public Library Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner were also in attendance for this special event.

    Special thanks to the NW Literacy Foundation, the Rotary Club of Ballard, and Seattle Public Library for sponsoring Mr. Joseph Bruchac’s visit. It’s an experience the students will always remember — and the adults too!

    Learn more about our early literacy initiative, Seattle Super Readers.

    Visit the Seattle Public Library website to learn more about the Global Reading Challenge.