Joseph Bruchac Author Study
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  • For further reading about Joseph Bruchac, see
    Joseph Bruchac, An Author Kids Love by Michelle Parker-Rock (Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2009). The book is based on a live interview with Joseph Bruchac and is one of 9 biographies in the Authors Kids Love Series.
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Joseph Bruchac Author Study Joseph Bruchac Author Study Presentation Transcript

  • Joseph Bruchac
    C&I 546: Author Study
    By Natalie Anderson
  • Joseph Bruchac
    Joseph Bruchac was born in Saratoga Springs, New York on October 16, 1942.
    Although Bruchac’s ancestors are American Indian, Slovakian and English, his “Native roots are the ones by which he has been most nourished,” and they are the ones that have provided him with the deep desire to share stories of his ancestors through young adult literature.
  • Joseph Bruchac (cont.)
    Bruchac was raised by his grandparents who were known to fill their house with books. As a result, he developed a passion for literacy at a very early age.
    The Bruchac family lived close to the forests and mountains.
    Joseph Bruchac currently lives in the same home he was raised in. This particular setting has been the inspiration for many of his novels.
  • Influences
    Bruchac talks about his first writing experience in his biography found at (
    “I started to write when I was in the second grade. I wrote poems to my teacher. One day, when she read one to the class, some of the bigger boys got jealous. They beat me up after school. That was my first experience with hostile literary critics. But I kept on writing. And I was always reading, especially classic children's stories about animals.
    I think I always knew I would be a writer some day, but it wasn't until I was grown and had children of my own that I turned to telling Native American stories. My Indian grandfather never told those stories to me. Instead, I began to seek them out from other Native elders as soon as I left home for college. I wanted to share those stories with my sons, so I started to write them down. My first book of stories was published in 1975.”
  • Influences (cont.)
    Because Bruchac’s story telling career began over thirty years ago, he has enthusiastically written over seventy pieces of literature. Genres include:
    Short stories
    Fictional novels
  • Themes and Issues
    According to Bruchac’s website, he continues to work extensively in projects that involve the preservation of:
    The Abenaki culture
    Language and traditional Native skills
    Performing traditional and contemporary Abenaki music
    Check out an Abenaki Greeting Song performed at a Focus the Nation gathering last winter.
  • Themes and Issues (cont.)
    Central themes in Bruchac’s writing include:
    Humans listening and respecting each other
    Humans listening and respecting the Earth
    Triumph and coming of age for young male protagonists
    “We never know anyone until we know what they have in their heart.” -Joseph Bruchac
  • Writing Style
    Bruchac writes with both first person and third person perspective
    Style includes character dialogues, narratives and thoughts
    Bruchac often incorporates traditional Native stories in with his fictional novels
    Most of his writings are historical fiction
  • “Life, you see, is a circle. But it is so large—like the great globe that we live on—that we may think at first that it is a straight line. The literatures of other cultures show the way to the greater journey, offering adventure, experience, and knowledge. Like new friends with open hands, they guide our children, helping them recognize the ways that circle them back home again with a better understanding of others and themselves.”
    - Joseph Bruchac
  • Portraying Culture and Assisting in Understanding
    Joseph Bruchac’s novels allow readers to develop an appreciation and understanding for cultures different than their own.
    Banks (1994) comments, “A major goal of multicultural education is to provide students with the skills, attitudes, and knowledge needed to function within their ethnic culture, the mainstream culture, and within and across other ethnic cultures” (p. 2)
  • Portraying Culture and Assisting in Understanding (cont.)
    By utilizing Bruchac’s novels in the classroom, teachers will support multicultural education as inspiration for fun, learning, and aesthetic reading experiences.
    Multicultural readings and data can be highly motivating and meaningful. Students are more likely to master skills when the teacher uses content that deals with significant human problems, such as race, ethnicity, and social class within the U.S. society (Banks, 1994).
  • Portraying Culture and Assisting in Understanding (cont.)
    Bruchac’s novels can also create discussions and conversations within the classroom that broaden thinking skills and language use, allowing students to hear stories from different perspectives.
    Every work of art including children’s literature is apolitical. Every work of art including children’s literature has a point of view. No work of art is neutral or innocent. They are all embedded in their context, their historical context and sociopolitical context, and they reflect the times in which they were written, who wrote them, what their objective was (Nieto, 2000).
    This is exactly why Joseph Bruchac’s novels provide students with multicultural understandings and opportunities to enhance cultural appreciation.
  • Why I Chose Joseph Bruchac
    Implementation of Indian Education For All (IEFA) in my classroom
    Although Joseph Bruchac writes mainly about his ancestors, the Abenaki Indians, and they are not one of Montana’s twelve tribal nations, many of his stories still fulfill IEFA Essential Understanding #6:
    History is a story most often related through the subjective experiences of the teller. With the inclusion of more and more varied voices, histories are being rediscovered and revised. History told from an Indian perspective often conflicts with the stories mainstream historians tell.
  • Why I Chose Joseph Bruchac (cont.)
    Additional 5th grade curriculum alignment
    Many of Bruchac’s novels address Missoula consortium’s 5th grade social studies framework for:
    Indigenous Peoples and Colonists- Students will examine the relationship between indigenous peoples and the early colonists. Students will examine the power struggles and conflicts between the European powers and the Indian nations for control of North America prior to the Revolutionary War.
  • Why I Chose Joseph Bruchac (cont.)
    Montana Standards for Literature: Content Standard 4:
    Students interact with print and nonprint literary works from various cultures, ethnic groups, traditional and contemporary viewpoints written by both genders.
  • Why I Chose Joseph Bruchac (cont.)
    Originally I was going to go with Sharon Creech for my author study, but after reading our selected texts for this course (most notably, the Breaking Boundaries with Global Literature), I was inspired to investigate an author who has inspired our global literature community.
    AND...a little birdie told me Mr. Bruchac will be visiting Missoula next year, so what a wonderful opportunity to read up on his highly regarded works of literature!
  • Praise and Appreciation
    According to Bruchac’s website, selected list of awards include:
    American Book Award for Breaking SilenceHorn Book honor for The Boy Who Lived with the BearsScientific American Children’s Book Award for The Story of the Milky WayCherokee Nation Prose AwardHope S. Dean Award for Notable Achievement in Children’s Literature2005 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award2001 Parents Guide to Children's' Media Award for Skeleton Man2000 Parents Choice Gold Award for Crazy Horse's Vision1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas1999 Jane Addams Children's Book Award for Heart of a Chief1998 Writer of the Year Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas1998 Storyteller of the Year Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas1997 Paterson Award for Dog People1996 Boston Globe Book Award for The Boy Who Lived with the Bears1995 Knickerbockers' Award
  • Praise and Appreciation (cont.)
    Hadaway & McKenna (2007) also note that three of Bruchac’s books have been selected for the Notable Books for a Global Society (p. 13):
    Between Earth & Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places
    Lasting Echoes: An Oral History of Native American People
    The Winter People
  • Praise and Appreciation (cont.)
    Bruchac’s consistent efforts to write quality, praiseworthy, young adult literature proves that he is one of the most prolific writers of our time.
    Regardless of genre preference, Joseph Bruchac’s novels are sure to please all readers as they explore his vast collection of multicultural literature.
  • References
    Aaronsohn, E. (2000). Controversial literacy: A conversation with Sonia Nieto. The
    Dragon Lode, 18, 1-7.
    Banks, J. A. (1994). An introduction to multicultural education. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
    Banks, J. A. (1994). Goals and misconceptions: An introduction to multicultural
    education. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
    Hadaway, N. L. & McKenna, M. J. (2007). Breaking boundaries with global literature:
    Celebrating diversity in K-12 classrooms. Newark, DE: International Reading
    Joseph Bruchac: Storyteller & Writer. Retrieved on July 19, 2009 from
    Scholastic Inc. (2008). Joseph bruchac: Biography. Retrieved on July 19, 2009 from