Book Review: Stolen Words by Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Stolen Words is a children's book written by Melanie Florence, and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. It tells the story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language – Cree – he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the inter generational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.
Stolen Words is a beautifully illustrated picturebook that points out something from our history that is often forgotten, and shows that some things can be done. We forget that while the Native Americans, and pretty much every indigenous culture around the world, has had more than just land and lives stolen from them. They were striped of language and culture and forced to adopt the language and in many cases religion and/or culture of those pushing them out or putting them in captivity.   It is gently put, in deference to the target audience, but I think the adults sharing this with young readers will be reminded of all that these cultures have lost. I love that the granddaughter, with the help of another trusted adult, made an effort to do what she could to return the stolen words to her grandfather. I only wish that more resources were available to those seeking to regain lost parts of their heritage, and that they were as easy to find as in this book. Some languages are lost completely, or are remembered by only a few and not recorded in any way. Perhaps this book will inspire young people to learn their own culture, and inspire elders or older members of the family to rediscover it as well. I would have loved to see some resources listed at the end of the book to help those seeking to reclaim the language or culture of their ancestors. 

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