How do you choose the stories to share on the Indigenous Storybooks website?
We are committed to respectful sharing of stories on Indigenous Storybooks. The following questions are considered, based on the available information, when we review the stories and resources that appear on our website:
- How did the story come to be known?
- How has the community and/or Nation participated in the development and/or telling of the story?
- Have the cultural protocols for sharing this story been honoured? Who gave permission for the story to be shared?
- How are Indigenous history, worldviews, and values represented?
- How does the story acknowledge the diversity of Indigenous peoples?
We recognize that it is not always possible to answer all of these questions and our knowledge is limited to the protocols with which we are familiar, so if you find stories and/or resources on our website that you consider disrespectful, please contact us.
Adapted from: Iseke-Barnes, J. (2009). Unsettling Fictions: Disrupting Popular Discourses and Trickster Tales in Books for Children. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 7(1), 24-57 & UBC/EDX Massive Open Online Course (2015). Reconciliation through Indigenous Education.
How can we respectfully retell stories?
We recommend that you use public stories to retell or ensure that you have permission to retell a story before you do so.
- Permission: Before retelling a story, ensure that you have permission to do so. This may be granted by the nation, clan, community, and/or the individual who owns the story. Sometimes, permission has been given to share the story for educational purposes. If permission has been granted to share the story, it will usually be indicated in some way. If you seek permission to use a story, make sure that you learn about the permission you have obtained (i.e., Do you have permission to share it only within a certain context? Do you have permission to teach it to others?) and share it when you retell the story.
- Research the context of the story and share this with each retelling: If permission has been given to use the story or you have gained permission to retell the story, make sure that you share this information with each retelling. This models respectful protocols for sharing stories and it educates your listeners about the story you share. This also means that the owner(s) of the story are acknowledged in your retelling.
- Maintain the integrity of the story: Indigenous stories have usually been translated from an Indigenous language, this means that when we tell them in English, their meaning has shifted with the translation. If you are retelling a story, it is important to ensure that you include all of the key points of the story, so that the story is not lost in your retelling.
How are Reading Levels assigned within Indigenous Storybooks?
|Level||Description||Words per story|
|Level 1||One or two short, simple sentences per page||Up to 75 words|
|Level 2||A few sentences per page||76–250 words|
|Level 3||A short paragraph per page||251–500 words|
|Level 4||One paragraph per page||501–799 words|
|Level 5||A long paragraph per page||800 words or more|
What are other examples of criteria to evaluate Indigenous resources?
Adapted from the First Nations Education Steering Committee Authentic First Peoples Resources
To develop their Authentic First Peoples Resources (K-9), the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) included the following considerations to determine the suitability of resources to be included in the guide.
- Accuracy: Reliable sources, careful documentation, thoroughly researched, and factual information.
- Arrangement: Cultural portrayals consistent with First Peoples’ values and attitudes, contributions of First Peoples to contemporary society, recognition of diversity among First Peoples (distinct societies, communities, ways of life, languages), recognition of First Peoples as enduring (not vanishing or assimilated), valid description of individual First Peoples’ lives (past or present), and realistic portrayal of gender roles.
- Objectivity (not applicable to fiction): Devoid of obvious or subtle anti-First Peoples prejudice, avoidance of stereotypes, positive values (clear of negative inference), sensitive language (free from loaded or offensive words), and portrayal of human strengths and weaknesses.
- Illustrations: Authentic depictions of First Peoples’ ways of life, past or present.
This list was adapted from the Evaluation Form developed by FNESC for the Authentic First Peoples Resources (K-9). For a full list of evaluation criteria, please see Appendix 1 on pages 127-134.
Adapted from the Oyate Criteria for Resource Evaluation
The following criteria is designed to help discern honest portrayals of First Nations peoples in children’s books, traditional stories, and contemporary stories and representations.
- Look for stereotypes and tokenism: Are First Nations peoples and societies oversimplified and generalized?
- Look for loaded words: Are there insulting overtones to the language used in the book?
- Look for distortion of history: Is there manipulation of words to justify European conquest of tradition homelands?
- Look for victimization: Does the story encourage belief that First Nations peoples accepted defeats passively or that heroes are limited to those who aided Europeans in their conquests?
- Look at lifestyles: Are cultures presented in a condescending manner? Are First Nations peoples only discussed in the past tense? Are there distinctions between “them” and “us”?
- Look at the author’s or illustrator’s background: Do their backgrounds suggest they are able to write about First Nations peoples accurately and respectfully? What is their relationship to the story? Do they acknowledge or pay tribute to the source of the story?
This list was adapted from the How to Tell the Difference and Additional Criteria from Oyate.