The Birchbark House Book Review and Discussion Questions

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The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich is a historical fiction book for kids that follows the life of a young Ojibwe girl and her family in the mid-19th century. The novel vividly portrays the daily struggles and joys of Ojibwe life and is a great addition to your history study.

This title does include death and sadness but the valuable content is why we read it in my online School Year Book Clubs for ages 8-10 in 2024.

The Birchbark House homeschool study and discussion questions.

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The Birchbark House

Louis Erdrich

Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 272 pages
First Published: 2021

The Birchbark house

View on Amazon | View on Goodreads

Publisher’s Description: The Birchbark House

She was named Omakakiins, or Little Frog, because her first step was a hop.

Omakakiins and her family live on an island in Lake Superior. Though there are growing numbers of white people encroaching on their land, life continues much as it always has.

But the satisfying rhythms of their life are shattered when a visitor comes to their lodge one winter night, bringing with him an invisible enemy that will change things forever—but that will eventually lead Omakakiins to discover her calling.

By turns moving and humorous, this novel is a breathtaking tour de force by a gifted writer.”

My Goodreads Review

The Birchbark House introduces children to the 19th-century life of the Ojibwa tribe through the eyes of one tribe member, 7-year-old Omakayas. Readers will spend a year with the tribe and witness tribe life each season. We follow Omakayas during her daily chores, encounters with wildlife, and the tragedy as smallpox hits the village in the winter.

This book is an excellent choice to include in your history study, especially as a companion to Little House on the Prairie. There is plenty of educational value as readers learn about the life of Native Americans at this time.

The plot is slow-moving because we simply watch Omakayas’ life throughout the year. She has bear encounters, adopts a crow who becomes a friend, and learns to step into her role as a healer in the family. For many students, the rising action didn’t feel like it was rising much at all.

NOTE: Parents should be aware that smallpox kills two characters in the book – including Omakayas’ baby brother. There is also a dog brutally killed by its owner. *One of the discussions we had in book club was about reasons these tragic and sad events might be included in a children’s book.

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ {3.5 stars}

Find discussion questions and a book review for your homeschool study of The Birchbark House

The Birchbark House: Discussion Questions for Your Homeschool Study

1. What can someone learn about the life of the Ojibwe tribe in the mid-1800s? Did you learn anything that surprised you?

2. This is a children’s book, yet there is quite a bit of sadness included in the story. Do you think the death of the baby was necessary? Why or why not?

3. Do you think this is the best title of the book? Why do you think the author chose this title? What would you title the book if it was up to you?

Take a peek as I share more details about a meaningful discussion with your kids:

Homeschooling With Books: Discussion Questions To Help You Get Started

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