Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing (Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor (Awards))

by National Geographic Learning

Hardcover, 2010





National Geographic School Pub (2004), Edition: 1, 32 pages


While walking through a forest of sequoias, a father tells his family the story of the tree's namesake. Sequoyah was a Cherokee man who invented a system of writing for his people. His neighbors feared the symbols he wrote and burned down his home. All of his work was lost, but, still determined, he tried another approach. The Cherokee people finally accepted the written language after Sequoyah taught his six-year-old daughter to read.

User reviews

LibraryThing member megmcg624
This picture book tells the story of Sequoyah, a Cherokee man who invented a syllabic writing system for the Cherokee language in the late 18th century. The story is told in both English and Cherokee.

Rumford manages to explain how remarkable it is to invent a writing system without bogging young readers down in linguistics. This would be an excellent recommendation as both a biography and a history for an grade level elementary student.… (more)
LibraryThing member hetrickm
Children are constantly asked to write in the classroom and I think this book is a must have introduction to writing in the library. The primary purpose of writing is to communicate and there were people who were unable to do so in the written format for hundreds of years. Children need to be exposed to the sacrifices and love for communication in order to appreciate the gift they have.… (more)
LibraryThing member samib
I found this book quite bothersome. While debate may continue about cultural authenticity and whether an outsider can write about a particular culture, I feel this book is an example of what can go wrong when white men try to write about Native Americans. Sequoyah's fellow Cherokee are described as "jeering," portrayed as needlessly violent and aggressive towards their own, and are basically the 'bad guys' Sequoyah must struggle against in order to finally 'overcome' and invent a system of Cherokee writing. The author notes in the book covers how much respect and interest he has in Native people, and yet, his portrayal is most prejudicial, and reflects white culture much more than Native culture. A very awkward read.

I would not recommend teachers or librarians utilize this book as part of any curriculum about Native Americans, as it promotes negative images of Native Americans.
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LibraryThing member flickins
Beautiful illustrations, English and Sequoyah language. Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor Awards
LibraryThing member frood42
This brief and fascinating biography tells the story of Sequoyah, the Cherokee metalworker who created a syllabary for writing the Cherokee language, despite the skepticism and, in some cases, hostility of others who knew of his plan. The story is written in English and Cherokee, and tells both the story of the letters and how their existence changed life for the Cherokee. The illustrations are lovely, with images outlined in black ink and filled in with vivid colors, so that the pictures somewhat resemble stained glass. The book also includes the Cherokee syllabary, a time line of Sequoyah's life, and a discussion about his link to the Sequoyah trees. This picture book for children ages five through nine effectively tells the story of an important event in American history.… (more)
LibraryThing member acochra
This book is based on an Indian man who wanted the people of the Cherokee tribe to be strong and stand tall. He wanted their language written down and spelled out so they would never be forgotten. He was called crazy at first, but eventually the tribe valued his idea and incorporated his symbols (alphabetic system) into their lives. As a teacher you could model how to create a character map. There is many ways to produce a character map after listening to a story, so you could model a couple of them. There is very distinguishable characters in this book so you could really illuminate different parts of the character.… (more)
LibraryThing member debrasw
Summary: This is a story of a man who was half cherokee and half white. He lived among the cherokee and decided that it was time that his people had writing. He began by trying to write symbols for each word in the language, but when the people burned down his home with the words in it, he decided it was time to try something new. So he made syllabic alphabet with 84 syllables written down and then the people began to learn to read and write.

Genre: this is a biography because it recounts the story of a man who actually lived. It tells about the trials he faced in creating this written language and it tells of the opposition as well as the praise he recieved in doing this.

Theme: I believe the theme of this story is to continue on the path that is set before you even when opposition strikes.

Media: Ink, watercolor, pastel and pencil
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LibraryThing member awidmer06
Genre: Folk Tale
Age Appropriateness: Primary/Intermediate
Review: This book is a good example of a folk tale because it is a story passed along orally through the Cherokee generations. It is a story of an ordinary man with an extraordinary idea- to create a writing system for the Cherokee Indians so his people could read and write. The character had a daunting task but Sequoyah worked hard and created a system that surprised the Cherokee Nation and the world with its beauty and simplicity.
Media: This book is a good example of ink, watercolor, pastel, and pencil media. The pencils allow different textures, shades, dimension, and blending.The brush, ink and watercolors give an even flow to the illustration. Images in the story are stronger and flowing because of the pastels.
Characterization: Sequoyah is a round character because he encounters a conflict, which is finding a language system for his people. Instead of ignoring the problem, he attacks it with dedication and hard work. Eventually, he creates a system that works extraordinary for his person, which leads him to be a self-determined individual.
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LibraryThing member mrindt
The story of Sequoyah is the tale of an ordinary man with an extraordinary idea--to create a writing system for the Cherokee Indians and turn his people into a nation of readers and writers. The task he set for himself was daunting. Sequoyah knew no English and had no idea how to capture speech on paper. But slowly and painstakingly, ignoring the hoots and jibes of his neighbors and friends, he worked out a system that surprised the Cherokee Nation--and the world of the 1820s--with its beauty and simplicity. James Rumford's Sequoyah is a poem to celebrate literacy, a song of a people's struggle to stand tall and proud.… (more)
LibraryThing member miskend
Excellent. The one plum/cherry blossom illustration seemed very much out of place and was distracting, although a nod to Hokusai. Otherwise a wonderfully conceived and executed book on a little known subject and introduces children to both a man and a culture.
LibraryThing member NikoleJosh
A Native American born in 1760-1765, named Seqouyah who was in the Cherokee Nation tribe. He invents letters for his Cherokee tribe so their voices would not fade away into the white settlement. These letters are used still today in the Cherokee Nation tribe.

My Response:
I liked pictues and how they showed the Cherokee Nation alphabet translation on the bottom of the paragraph to show it looks like in their language. It tells about his life story and how he did not give up when other people in the tribe was suspicious at first and showed them how to communicate through this alphabet. The book also has the alphabet in the back of the book along with how to pronounce and sound out the alphabet correctly.

Classroom Extension:
1)Ask students what qualities did Seqouyah show that made him a hero.
2)Ask students how Seqouyah showed bravery and not give up when some people burned his house down.
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LibraryThing member jmilton11
Genre: Informational/Biography
Media: Acrylics
Age: Intermediate
Review: This book is informational because it gave information on the background of how Cherokee writing came to be. It is also a biographical book because it gave information on the man who created the writing.
LibraryThing member MkM
Genre: Historical Fiction
Genre Critique: This book is a good example of historical fiction through the use of real, historical characters, settings, and events. The story incorporates the language that Sequoyah wrote with a chart in the back for the reader as well. The details, language use (translation into Cherokee on each page), and illustrations really capture the time period for the reader to experience.
Review/Critique: I found this book interesting. I haven't read much about native Americans, and never thought about them creating a written language for themselves.
Media: Ink, watercolor, pastel, and pencil on drawing paper adhered to a rough piece of wood to give it texture.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
With simple text and gorgeous illustrations, this brilliant bilingual picture-book by James Rumford highlights the achievements of Sequoyah, the Cherokee metalworker who invented a syllabary for his people's language. Born some time in the 1760s, Sequoyah spent most of his life in obscurity, only beginning his work on a writing system when he was approaching fifty. Ridiculed, and sometimes even persecuted by the those who feared that his signs were evil, he nevertheless persisted, eventually creating the 86-character syllabic system that is still in use today...

Rumford's narrative, translated into Cherokee by Anna Sixkiller Huckaby - the language training coordinator at the Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center - is a lyrical tribute to this extraordinary act of creation. His illustrations, done in ink, watercolor, pastel and pencil, are reminiscent of woodcuts, and have a lovely folk-quality to them. Included at the rear is a table with the complete syllabary, a brief afterword, and a time-line of Sequoyah's life. All in all, Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing is the sort of book that educates and entertains, all while providing a gorgeous aesthetic experience. Well worth the time of any reader with an interest in the Cherokee people, their writing system, or the man who created it.
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LibraryThing member amandacope
This book is the story of the well known hero, George Gist, also known as Sequoyah. This man was a Cherokee Indian who came up with a language for his people to write. This is a wonderful biography that has been mine since I was a young girl. It tells all about his life and the way that he determined how to come up with the letters and shapes.

Personal Reaction:
I enjoyed this book because of it's history aspect. I also liked the pictures in the book because the artwork is a few different look then most paintings and illustrations.

Classroom Extension:
1) We could use this in a section about writing. We could write our own short stories in the Cherokee way and see if it is more difficult or easier then our own language.
2) We could use this in a history lesson and study famous Native American people. Each student in the class could write a brief essay over one of these people.
3) We could try to simulate the paintings and sketches on our own as an art project.
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LibraryThing member rdg301library
Reading Level: Primary
Genre: Biography
Summary: The story of the Cherokee man who gave his people the gift of written language.
Evaluation: This is an interesting story about an important figure in Native American history. This book helps the reader understand that there are many influential Native Americans that made a great impact on the world around them. The theme was inspirational and showed that even through hard times greatness can be achieved. Each page is written in English with a translation below that into Cherokee, which is very appropriate because the whole book is about the written Cherokee language.… (more)
LibraryThing member barbarapatt
The author starts the story with a comparison of the man, Sequoyah, with the Giant Sequoia tree. He was a crippled man, born of a white man and a Cherokee woman and was not famous for most of his life. He was a metalworker. He loved his people and did not want their Cherokee voices to fade away. They had now written language of their own and Sequoyah didn't even speak English or read. At age 50, he started his invention of a written language to express his people's words. In spite of jeering and persecution from naysayers, he persisted and invented a system of symbols representing syllables rather than letter sounds. The Cherokee people began to read and write. Sequoyah never gave up.

This was an inspiring story of man who loved his people and achieved his dream even late in life. His legacy lives on today. His home still stands in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.

Extensions could be:
The students could look at the alphabet and find the first syllable of their name and practice writing it.
Read about the Cherokee people and their struggle to stand a proud people.
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LibraryThing member Nall0705
• Summary of content/review: This book is a biography on Sequoyah, the creator of Cherokee writing. This book goes on to depict the man and his influence on the community.
• Evaluation: The expository structure of this book make sit easy for the reader to follow and learn from.
• Target audience: 2nd-5th grade
• Connection to classroom: I would implement this book when discussing the Cherokee Native Americans and their culture.

Genre: biography, American history, non-fiction

RI.4.2 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
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LibraryThing member mcnicol_08
This fictional biography tells the story of Sequoyah and his accomplishments of creating the alphabet system for the Cherokee tribe. This book tells of Sequoyah's life as a young adult until his death. It briefly shares the challenges and resilience of Sequoyah as he created this writing system.

Overall I did enjoy this book, however, I was not sure of the reliability of the facts as there was no sources to support the information. The author introduced the story by having a father share the story of Sequoyah to his children. This introduction, in my opinion, makes the story seem fictional and as if Sequoyah is a myth. I think this book would be great to introduce Sequoyah, but only for an introduction, as I would expect students to use other sources to learn facts about Sequoyah.… (more)
LibraryThing member TaraKennedy
This was a really great book, however, I'm not sure of the veracity of some of the factual information provided. The book says Sequoyah was a cripple, but another book, and the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum website states he was a soldier. This book's account of the destruction of his first attempts at developing the system of writing differs from the other book's which has more scholarly references. Still, it is an engaging book with beautiful pictures.… (more)
LibraryThing member jwesley
James Rumford tells the story about a man named Sequoyah, who created writing for the Cherokee. The book describes Sequoyah as a crippled man who worked with metal. The Cherokee didn't have their own written language and because of the love Sequoyah had for his culture, he began to sculpt words on pieces of wood. But everyone didn't agree with his concept and tried to discourage him by burning his house. This book illustrates the ability of Sequoyah's perserverance to incorporate words into his culture to help the Cherokee learn how to read and write.… (more)
LibraryThing member kitbraddick
This book opened with a little boy looking at big sequoyah trees, then his father begins to tell them how they got their name--he tells the story of Sequoyah. It was cool to see the story start with some of the legacy Sequoyah has left behind. The inclusion of the print and language Sequoyah was another great feature in this book. Readers didn't just read about the print Sequoyah created, they got to see it.… (more)
LibraryThing member amartino1208
This information picture book biography teaches us about how the first written Indian language came to be developed. Sequoyah wanted to keep record of her people and all they have accomplished, so she helped to create their first written language. the story displays the text in both english words and the language they have developed. This helps us to understand how their language came to be and what certain symbols may represent. With this new step forward the Indian people would be able to pass down their stories not only by word of mouth but with documentation as well. I liked this book because it has a piece of history that some people seem to over look. This is important to all history because it tends to display how written text came to be developed, along with the process it takes to create the written language.… (more)
LibraryThing member alcrumpler
Within this text, James Rumford tells the story of Sequoyah, who created a way of writing for the Cherokee Indians. When implementing the writing system, Sequoya and his nation became a land of writers and readers.


Original language


Physical description

32 p.; 7.5 inches


0618369473 / 9780618369478




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