Doreen Rappaport’s Big Words book series has been making important milestones in American history accessible and digestible for kids. The collection includes books on Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, John Legend, John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, and Walt Disney. All of those names should be familiar to everyone, but the latest release tells the story of an incredible woman I had sadly never heard about before, Wilma Mankiller. The next generation will know her name thanks in no small part to Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller.
Wilma Mankiller we the first female Cherokee Chief and through her story, kids and parents will learn about her incredible life and the civil injustice that Native Americans have endured in the last century. Kids will instantly connect with Wilma through her upbringing in Oklahoma, will feel her pain as her family is forced into big city living in San Francisco, and will root for her as she joins a social movement that ultimately leads to her becoming a groundbreaking leader for change.
Wilma Mankiller’s story is inspiring and an important one for all kids to learn. The book is recommended for ages 6 and up, making it a perfect addition to the library of kids in 1st through 3rd grade. Doreen Rappaport’s text is easy to read, but what impresses me most about this series is that she incorporates quotes from the subject on each page, allowing kids to experience the story in Wilma’s words, too.
Illustrations for Wilma’s Way Home are provided by Linda Kukuk, who is half Native American like Wilma and also grew up in Oklahoma. You can feel the authenticity in her illustrations and she also traveled to the many of the locations featured in the book to ensure that they were accurately depicted. A section of “Illustrator’s Notes” at the back of the book further reveal her passion for this project.
Each book in the Big Words series includes a timeline of events in the final pages, as well as a list of follow up readings for anyone who wants to learn more. This book also includes a pronunciation guide for some of the Cherokee words used in the text.
Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller is an important and inspirational story about a Native American woman who stood up for what’s right, broke down barriers, and opened the door for others through the inspiring changes she made during her lifetime. Her story deserves to be celebrated and her name should be taught in schools along with the other important historical figures in this series. My hope is that this book inspires kids to share Wilma’s story with their friends to keep her important message alive.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.