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Celebrate a nation of diverse readers with these recommended books, authors, and teaching resources.
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Chester Nez cover

Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story

Forced to attend a missionary boarding school, Betoli was forbidden to speak Navajo and given the English name Chester. Chester adapted as best he could to the forced assimilation but refused to give up his language and heritage—which he and other Navajo soldiers used to create an unbreakable code that was key to ending World War II.
Chester Nez cover

How to Teach This Book

  1. After reading Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code, work as a class to create an “I Am” poem. Challenge students to share their ideas about how they think Chester would complete each part of this structured poem that typically begins I am, I wonder, I feel, I hear, etc. Then challenge students to create their own anonymous “I Am” poems that describe their special, unique qualities and express the way they feel, what they hope, think, dream, etc. Share poems by reading them aloud to the class, highlighting how each student’s unique identity makes the community richer and more diverse.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. How is your school similar or different from the boarding school that Chester and other American Indians attended?
  2. How would it feel to have your name changed, your hair cut, and your own clothes taken away?
  3. How would it feel to be forced to speak a language that wasn’t yours?
  4. What do you think life was like for families with children at the boarding school?
  5. Why do you think the boarding schools wanted to eliminate American Indian languages and cultures?
  6. Why is it important to understand and value other cultures?

Additional Resources for Teaching About the Native American Experience

Celebrate a nation of diverse readers with these recommended books, authors, and teaching resources.

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