Teaching My Baby To Read

Bruce(6.5) and I recently read We Asked for Nothing: The Remarkable Journey of Cabeza de Vaca (Great Explorers)by Stuart Waldman, as part of my Inspired by SLE Reading List Part 2. It is an adaption for children of Cabeza de Vaca’s memoir: Adventures in Unknown Interior of America. I’m not sure if this was on the SLE reading list back when I was in college or not. I don’t remember any of this story at all, but I do have a visceral memory of hearing and saying “Cabeza de Vaca” over and over again. So perhaps I did read this almost fifteen years ago, and none of it sank in.

We Asked for Nothing is a picture book written at a fifth grade reading level or above. It deals with serious issues such as racism, prejudice, slavery, starvation, religious faith and survival. I felt very comfortable reading it side by side with my first grade son in a Guided Reading context, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to just hand this book over to an advanced six year old and say “Have at it.” Discussing the material is key. A nice feature of the book is that quotes from Cabeza de Vaca’s original text are inserted throughout the story, so that children get a chance to experience the primary source.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful, and I can’t help but wonder if I would have remembered what I read back in college better if I had also had access to the children’s version of Cabeza de Vaca’s story!

If you are from Texas or the Gulf Coast We Asked for Nothing would be even more meaningful for you because it talks extensively about the Native American tribes who lived in that area. All of those peoples were unfamiliar to me: the Karankawa, the Queuene, the Chorruco, the Deaguane, the Mendica etc., I had never learning anything about them before. Neither had the Spanish Conquistadors, until Cabeza de Vaca had the courage to find out.

Unfortunately, I believe that We Asked for Nothing is now out of print. I had to order my copy as a discarded library book. It’s worth taking the effort to acquire this book either through borrowing it from your own library or ordering it used if you are at all interested in the history of Explorers or Native Americans. We Asked for Nothing really solidified a lot Bruce learned from listening to Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World series.

Here are my Learning Goals for my SLE Inspired Reading List Part 2:

  • We are all capable of thinking our own thoughts and forming our own ideas. We do not need to be slaves to the thinking of others.
  • We are responsible for our own actions, and are accountable for our actions to our own conscious, our families, and our community. Many people in the world believe we are also accountable to God.

P.S. An alternate text for teaching about Cabeza de Vaca to older children would be the book Walk the World’s Rim by Betty Baker.

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