Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way

by S D Nelson (Author) S D Nelson (Illustrator)

Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Pickup trucks and eagles, yellow school buses and painted horses, Mother Earth and Sister Meadowlark all join together to greet the dawn. They marvel at the colours and sounds, smells and memories that dawn creates. Animals and humans alike turn their faces upwards and gaze as the sun makes its daily journey from horizon to horizon.

Dawn is a time to celebrate with a smiling heart, to start a new day in the right way, excited for what might come. Birds sing and dance, children rush to learn, dewdrops glisten from leaves, and gradually the sun warms us. Each time the sun starts a new circle, we can start again as well. All these things are part of the Lakota way, a means of living in balance.

S. D. Nelson offers young readers wonder and happiness as a better way of appreciating their culture and surroundings. He draws inspiration from traditional stories to create Greet the Dawn. His artwork fuses elements of modern with traditional. Above all, he urges each of us to seize the opportunity that dawn offers each day.

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School Library Journal

K-Gr 5—Portraying the precepts of Lakota philosophy with a harmonious interplay of glorious images and crisp poetry, Nelson expresses his vision of how gratitude for nature's bounty and appreciation of "Wakan Tanka," or the Great Mystery, enhances human life. His introduction effectively explains the Circle of Life, giving many examples of the literal and metaphorical circles that seem to inspire his illustrations, which depict circular dewdrops, drums, and celestial bodies—even the words themselves arc across some pages. However, other elements are a bit harder to understand, and a lack of clear transitions makes readers work to find connections among Nelson's ideas. The simplicity of the main text resolves any lingering confusion; the author intersperses ancestral songs that celebrate dawn, sun, and moon with his own free verse in praise of all the gifts nature shares with humans over the course of a day. The real star of the book, though, is the artistry of Nelson's breathtaking paintings. His appreciation of nature is apparent in the dynamic vistas that sweep across each spread; sky and earth are full of movement and pattern, and washes of color vary in mood and shade to portray muted sandy deserts, vibrant tropical blooms, and deep velvety midnights. The author concludes with a note that describes his inspirations and techniques and acknowledges the people who influenced his understanding of the Lakota Way.—Kate Hewitt, Far Brook School, Short Hills, NJ

Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
S D Nelson
S. D. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas. He is the award-winning author and illustrator of numerous children's books, including Black Elk's Vision, Gift Horse, Coyote Christmas, and The Star People. He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. Visit him online at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
South Dakota State Historical Society
Publication date
June 20, 2012
BISAC categories
Library of Congress categories
Teton philosophy
Teton Indians
Moonbeam Children's Book Award
Silver Medal Winner 2012 - 2012

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