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Powwow Day Book Review & Activities

Everyone dances in and moves around the circle, all connected to the drum, Mother Earth, and one another.

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Powwow Day combines a heartwarming story by Traci Sorell (Cherokee) with beautiful illustrations by Madelyn Goodnight (Chickasaw) to celebrate the healing power of community at an annual tribal powwow. Backmatter includes detailed information about powwows.

River wakes up on Powwow Day and remembers that she won’t be dancing or participating in the jingle dress competition this year. She’s recovering from being sick and isn’t feeling strong enough yet.

At the powwow, River’s sadness is evident in her expression as she watches her friend get ready to dance and hears the emcee start the powwow.

She decides to try joining Grand Entry which her Grandpa leads with the eagle staff. But it’s too much for River, and she is led back to her seat to watch through her tears.

After Grand Entry, an elder prays that our dances honor the Creator, that our culture and language will stay strong, and that healing will come to those who need it. Like me.

Beating drums, colorful dancers, and a healing dance from friends and family surround River. She can feel the magic, and it just lifts her spirits!

River knows she will dance again and join them at the next powwow.

Traci Sorell is a Cherokee Nation citizen and award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction for young people. Browse more of her books here.

Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and illustrator of The Pear Tree and Look, Grandma!/Ni, Elisi!

Book Activities

* Download the Powwow Day Activity Kit which includes

  • questions to kick off a discussion, guide responses, and/or inspire a writing or drawing assignment
  • a knowledge map to share information about powwows
  • a recording sheet for identifying helpers in our own lives
  • a guided research project to learn the history and importance of the jingle dress dance
  • a word search of vocabulary from the story

* Explore the geography and culture of the United States.

* Listen to Traci Sorell and Madelyn Goodnight talk about the inspiration and creative process behind Powwow Day:

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