The Birchbark House




The Birchbark House is an indigenous juvenile realistic fiction novel written by Louise Erdrich in 1999. The story introduces the reader to an island in Lake Superior in 1847 to live the life seasons of Omokayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl. The story gives the interactions of Omokayas with her immediate and extended family and their neighbors during their annual move from the winter in Cedar cabin to the summer in their birchbark house.  Erdrich has written The Birchbark House story in a manner that relates to the convention children literature making it suitable for young children.

Children literature is a folklore type that is suitable for children because the contents of such stories relate to their physical and emotional development. Child literature has gained significance over the years. It introduces children to the world by providing them with information on the cultural, environmental, and social issues that can help them be better persons.  So, child literature has specific characteristics that make it suitable for children and even adults as will be discussed below.

First, child literature has children as the central characters.  A story cannot be said to be suitable for children if its main characters are not children that they can identify with. So, an author has to ensure that a story focuses on the experiences of a child or children. In The Birchbark House, Kamokayas is a seven-year-old girl, and this makes her relatable to the child readers. Besides, the stories have real characters who like those in fairy tales or children movies, make mistakes and learn. So, it becomes easy for the reader to believe the experiences because they are relatable. From the story, Omokayas transitions from a small child to an adult as the story advances. She

Secondly, there is a tone of innocence and joy associated with children reliable friends, agricultural life, and closeness to nature. Throughout the story, Kamokayas describes her relationship with her parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, and neighbors with much pride and pureness. Also, she expresses her love for harvesting rice because it is one thing that makes her spend time with her family. Subsequently, child literature expresses a child’s point of view on different circumstances. When reading such work, one gets to know the feelings of the child characters which in many instances are true and happen in the real life of the reader.  Kamokayas narrates her feelings and experiences in her childhood before the smallpox epidemic. For example, she gets angry at her brothers and is jealous of one of her female friends whom she feels is prettier than her.  These feelings are common in children because they are part of what shapes their behavior and attitudes in childhood and later in adulthood.

Additionally, children literature has a fascinating storyline and has captivating illustrations that make it enjoyable. Children are visual readers, and they depend on a lot of images and a captivating narration. The story provides step-by-step details of the experiences of the characters.  The illustrations have offered an aspect of excitement so that the children are motivated to read with the anticipation of the ending. For example, Omokayas describes how the build their summer home out of birchbark, how they share time with the extended family while harvesting rice in the autumn, and how they treat smallpox during the winter and how to make maple syrup which they will later sell to others.  Illustrations accompany some of these parts. The description is suitable for children because it evokes their imagination and interest to read, besides helping them know how to read and master content.

Still, child literature contains moral lessons. Every story has the experience to teach the reader, be it children and adults. These are simple lessons that are easy to understand; for example, do not cheat, respect your elders or be kind. In Birchbark House, Louise provides the reader with different moral lessons through the experiences of Omokayas. For example, Omokayas is very kind to animals, and she keeps them as pets. That is a show of kindness because animals, birds, and plants are an essential part of human existence given that they provide them with food and other materials.

The author through the use of child literature communicates the theme of displacement and racial discrimination. For instance, the white people (chimookoman) plan to expand their territory to the west, and this means that Ojibwa will be destroyed and that the people will be homeless.



Children literature depends on action to maintain interest. The author engages in activity that That is; it contained explained actions during the narrative. Against the backdrop of the setting of the story, particularly its culture, the author conveys the universal experience of childhood.  Through Omokayas, a young reader can understand or imagine their love to play outdoors, the reluctance to do chores, the devotion to pet animals, especially dogs and cats, and their ability to cope with an unbearable loss.


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