Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story by Joseph Bruchac

Chester Nez and the Unbreakable CodeChester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story by Joseph Bruchac; illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes. 2018.

Brief summary: In 1929, a missionary truck took an eight-year-old Navajo boy from his family to go to a Catholic boarding school.  It wasn’t optional. He was stripped of his Navajo name and given his new English name of Chester by a missionary nun. His hair was cut and he was not allowed to speak his native tongue; only English. He was forced to become Catholic and told that his heritage was to be forgotten. During tenth grade, Chester joined the Marines in 1941 after the Pearl Harbor bombing. Platoon 382 consisted of 29 Navajos. These men created the famous Navajo code that the enemies could not decipher. Ironically, the language they were forbidden to speak saved the English speaking one.

Comments: The back consists of an Author’s note, The Navajo Code, and a timeline.  I’m glad to see more of these books being published lately on the subject of mandatory boarding school for Native American children and other atrocities that the Canadian and US government forced upon these indigenous people.

Joseph Bruchac (of the Abenaki Tribe) is one of my favorite Native American writers. Thanks to him, many of the Native American stories told through oral tradition are being put into print. Students love his monster lore.







Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley

Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley

Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley; illustrated by National Geographic. 2016. Photography.

Brief summary: This book depicts a variety of parents in different military branches saying good-bye to their children before deployment.  It talks about how the children and soldiers cope with the worry and frustration of this separation. It encourages being brave and strong.

Comments: A narrative nonfiction. The large photos throughout include diversity of military branches, ethnic backgrounds, and female/male soldiers.  I like how this was a very real book about employment and  talks about the anxiety of separation for the children as well as the parents including  how to cope in the days to follow. These are actual families and includes a world map to show where the soldiers were stationed.  In the back of the book, there is a  section on separation  along with what brave means, who serves, a note to caregivers, and further resources sections. I’d like to see more patriotic books like this one. I plan to share this book with my students before Veterans’ Day.