Jingle Dancer: Educator Guide


  • What is a powwow?
  • What is a tradition? Do you have traditions in your families? What are they? (NonNative educators: you may not always know if a Native child is in your discussion group. Be sensitive to their perspective. If you do know of one, please don’t put them on the spot as a “cultural expert.” Attribution: Oyate.)
  • Read THE GREAT BALL GAME: A MUSKOGEE STORY retold by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Susan L. Roth (Dial, 1994).
  • In JINGLE DANCER, who tells Jenna the Story of Bat? What is the theme of the story? What does Jenna have in common with Bat?
  • How did Mrs. Scott, Grandma Wolfe, Great-aunt Sis and Cousin Elizabeth help Jenna make her dress?
  • How did Jenna show her respect for these women?
  • Did JINGLE DANCER take place today or a long time ago?
  • Discuss the meaning of “four” in Native tradition. (see author’s note). In JINGLE DANCER, how is the number four represented? (Four directions, four women, four rows of jingles, four dancers at the powwow… can you find more?).
  • What does regalia mean? Emphasize that regalia is not a costume. Talk about other people who wear special clothes on meaningful occasions like priests or brides in their wedding dresses. Please note that it is disrespectful when non-Native people “dress up” to “play Indian” or wear fake “Indian-inspired” clothes on Halloween.
  • Jenna lives in a small town in Oklahoma. Find Oklahoma on a map.
  • Jenna is a contemporary girl. The homes that she lives in and visits contain objects that may also be found in the homes of young readers. What objects in the small-town Oklahoma houses may be found in other children’s homes? (Television, books, chairs, pitcher, sink, carpet, etc.)

illustration, music, teaching, advocacy

Jingle_illus_medIllustrators Interview: Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu from CYALR.

“We respect all communities, and because we do, we put a lot into research. We never go to one source but to as many as possible. We go to friends or neighbors who may be of that background and get information. Yet at the same time, we try avoid the stereotypes that can pervade a readers perception of a culture.”

Indian House Records: “Located in Taos, New Mexico, USA, Indian House is a 30-year old record company specializing in traditional American Indian music. Featured on our recordings are some of the most highly-respected Indian musicians in the United States and Canada.” Indian House carries powwow songs, including jingle dance songs, as well as tapes of Muscogee (Creek) songs and more.

Native American Rights Fund: a non-profit legal organization that represents Indian people. Organization includes many Native attorneys. It’s listed here because in my picture book, Jenna’s cousin Elizabeth (right) is a lawyer. offers information and resources including links to Native American music, a calendar of pow wow events and videos, like this one of girls jingle dancing.

Teacher and Librarian Resources for Native American Children’s and Young Adult Books from CYALR.