Chapter 4: Families—The Importance of Relatives § 69
for their dresses, but she will be able to make a jingle dress of her own.
As Jenna talks to her extended family, we meet Great-aunt Sis, who tells
traditional stories; Mrs. Scott, who is making fry bread; Cousin Elizabeth,
who is an attorney; and Grandma Wolfe, who jingle dances on video. Jenna
is a contemporary child who turns to her family and community for help.
She is honored by her role in her family and eager to carry on family and
cultural traditions. The children we teach understand family values, such as
respect and love, from their own experiences. This book gives them a chance
to see a nurturing Native American family of today as well as some of the
unique aspects of their culture.
Many cultures have their own special dance traditions. By introducing
children to a variety of children’s books based on dance, teachers can help
them not only recognize dance as a thread that travels through many cul-
tures, but also explore the unique aspects of each culture’s dance traditions.
The following suggested books could be incorporated into classroom dance
centers or reading areas.
Mimi’s Tutu, by Tynia Thomassie—African American
Silent Lotus, by Jeanne M. Lee—Cambodian
Lion Dancer, by Kate Waters and Madeline Slovenz-Low—Chinese American
Powwow, by George Ancona—Native American
Color Dance, by Ann Jonas—multiracial
Red Dancing Shoes, by Denise Lewis Patrick—African American
My Ballet Class, by Rachel Isadora—multiracial
Song and Dance Man, by Karen Ackerman—multigenerational
Lili on Stage, by Rachel Isadora—multiracial
Dramatic Play and Movement—Dance Area
Children enjoy experiencing dancing firsthand through their own body
movements. A dance area in the classroom gives children the opportunity to
express themselves through dance. In order to help children recognize that
dance is important in many cultures, teachers can play music from many
nationalities. However, when including music from Native American cultures,
teachers must be highly selective. Much Native music is intended for sacred