Why We Dance: A Story of Hope and Healing

by Deidre Havrelock (Author) Aly McKnight (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

From Indigenous creative team Deidre Havrelock and Aly McKnight comes a powerful and exuberant story about the heritage, joy, and healing power of the Jingle Dress Dance--a perfect read-aloud picture book. It's a special day--the day of the Jingle Dress Dance!

Before the big powwow, there's a lot to do: getting dressed, braiding hair, packing lunches, and practicing bounce-steps. But one young girl gets butterflies in her stomach thinking about performing in front of her whole community. When the drumbeats begin, though, her family soothes her nerves and reminds her why she dances. Emerging historically in response to the global influenza pandemic of 1918-19, the Jingle Dress Dance is a ceremonial dance of healing and prayer that still thrives today in many Indigenous and First Nations communities across North America.

Lyrically and rhythmically written with lush, full-color illustrations, Why We Dance is a joyous celebration of a proud Indigenous tradition that inspires hope, resilience, and unity.

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The subtlety of the text is beautifully complemented with watercolor illustrations that depict a close, strong, intergenerational community steeped in the importance of valuing tradition even while tradition evolves with time. Why We Dance should be part of all readers' repertoires. 

Review quotes

Deidre Havrelock
Deidre Havrelock is a member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada. She was raised in Edmonton, Alberta and is the author of the picture book Buffalo Wild!. She lives in Canada with her family, and invites you to visit her online at: children.deidrehavrelock.com

Edward Kay is an award-winning writer who loves comedy and science, especially together. His work includes fiction and nonfiction as well as live-action and animated television for both children and adults. He is the author of the Gross Science nonfiction book series for middle grade readers. Edward was a staff writer and producer for Canada's most popular political satire show, the International Emmy-nominated This Hour Has 22 Minutes. He lives in Toronto, Canada, and invites you to visit him online at: edwardkay.com
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Abrams Books
Publication date
February 06, 2024
BISAC categories
JUV031020 - Juvenile Fiction | Performing Arts | Dance
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV014000 - Juvenile Fiction | Girls & Women
JUV011040 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Native American
JUV017000 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | General
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Indians of North America
JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / United S
Indian dance
JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / Indigeno

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