Custer Died So That You Can Read! My 10 Favorite Books
As an inveterate reader I tell people I do not read books—I devour them. For the book I am currently writing, about the Indian occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969, I am devouring about two books a week. In addition, I read about two a week for fun. I have written a total of 27 books, and will soon finish the 28th, The American Indian Dropout.
I just read three essays for students. All three scored below a 20 on the ACT, or below the 50th percentile. They had good GPAs of 3.5 to 3.8. So they should have scored at the 75th percentile or higher.
Why did they score so low? None of them are readers. Our students have to learn that education does not come in schools. All schools do is teach you some tools. Then you have to use these tools to learn yourself. You learn by reading. The schools do not teach Indian kids to read. To most Indian kids, having to read a book is like having to take castor oil. It should be like eating ice cream.
But the Indian reservation schools they are attending are cheating them out of a fulfilling life. These schools do not encourage or require students to read.
I feel so strongly about the importance of reading that I wrote a book about it called Reading for College. It is an annotated bibliography of books on literature, biology, biography, aviation, crime—41 chapters in all. We wanted that book in all the Indian high schools and colleges. But it is a slow seller. We have not yet sold 100 of them—to order, visit CatchingtheDream.org. The people who have used it have really improved their reading and ACT scores. One of our students, Amber Baca, is carrying a 4.0 GPA at the University of New Mexico.
Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is the story of conquering Indians in the Dakota Territory in the last half of the 19th century. Brown, who also wrote the best-seller about the railroads, is a wonderful writer. He told the story of the massacres, lies, and destruction of the Plains Indians from their point of view, which few books have ever done.
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