Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  116 ratings  ·  44 reviews
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 neig...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownBlack Elk Speaks by John G. NeihardtLakota Woman by Mary Crow DogIn the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter MatthiessenPrison Writings by Leonard Peltier
Native American Biography
98th out of 111 books — 51 voters
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul CurtisGirl Wonder by Deborah HopkinsonAlmost Astronauts by Tanya Lee StoneClaudette Colvin by Phillip M. HooseOne Thousand Tracings by Lita Judge
Jane Addams Children's Book Award
18th out of 51 books — 4 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 237)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Grade Level: 1-4
Award: The Robert E. Sibert Honor Book

This is a picture book describing the true story of a man, Sequoyah and how he invented the Cherokee written language. Sequoyah was born in the 1760s into the Cherokee tribe in Tennessee. Although he was crippled he was able to work as a metalworker, making things like forks and spoons. Later in his life, growing tired of his people not having a voice to combat the ever-present White Man’s voice, he put his mind to develop a way of writing fo...more
2005 Jane Adams Award Honor Book

This is an amazing bilingual story that tells the tale of how the written Cherokee language came to be that is in both English and said Cherokee. A family of unknown ethnicity visits the Redwoods in California in 1958. The dad begins to tell the story of how they got their name and why their namesake was so important. Sequoyah was an everyday person who didn’t want the voices of the Cherokee to fade away and blend into the white man’s world so he decided to captur...more
538am_Allison Nork
Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing is a multicultural non-fiction book that I would recommend for 1st-3rd grades. It tells the story of a metalworker who was crippled that no one payed much attention to. He realized that he loved his Cherokee people and did not want their amazing voices and stories to ever disappear. Because of this he decided to create a language for the Cherokee people to use. Through many trials and tribulations he was successful and is looked to as the ma...more
by James Rumford
Published in 2004

Genre: Non-fiction

Format: Picture book

Plot Summary: "Fascinated by the Giant Sequoias they see during a California vacation, unnamed children listen to their father tell of the trees' namesake from the opposite side of North America. Thus, in short paragraphs accompanied by richly textured illustrations, Rumford presents the seminal events in Sequoyah's life, culminating in his invention of the Cherokee syllabary." - Sean George

Considerations for Readers...more
T. Denise
I loved this book. This is a story of struggle, perserverance, and sustainment of a culture. Rumford pens the life of Sequoyah, a Cherokee man responsible for the creation of a syllabic alphabet for the Cherokee people that still exists today. Interestingly, Sequoyah's first attempt at creating an alphabet was ridiculed and rejected by the Cherokee people.(They even claim that he is possessed and burn his home), but Sequoyah responds by teaching his daughter to read. Soon, everyone is reading an...more
James Rumford's Sequoyah is the remarkable story of the man who overcomes hardship and goes on to invent the syllabary of the Cherokee language, in part so that he can teach his daughter to read. As Rumford points out, this is remarkable because only a handful of people in the history of the written word can claim to have done this, with Sequoyah's instance being the most recent. Anna Sixkiller Huckaby translates the story, on each page you see both English and Cherokee. The story is elegantly i...more
The pictures in this book are wonderful. They were not done as actual woodcuts, but they look like woodcuts because the drawing paper was adhered to a rough piece of wood so that each pass of chalk or colored pencil brought out the wood texture. I enjoyed reading the book to my children age 10 and 8, and stopped midway to talk about the printing press and it's importance in history, and why storytelling was important before books could be printed on Gutenberg's letterpress, etc. At that point, I...more
quick read, telling how Sequoyah developed the Cherokee writing system. also a story of perseverance. written in both English and Cherokee. a limitation is that there is a lack of source material. one benefit is the emphasis of the long literacy history of Cherokee people.
Stacy Nyikos
Rumford introduces Sequoyah and his amazing feat with a superb, living analogy. He compares Sequoyah to the giant redwood trees that may or may not have been named after him. This sets the tone the legend-like telling of a man who did a great, and very real, living thing, for his people. Rumford uses a legendary style because “not every event in his life can be supported by facts” (31). Yet the tree analogy breathes life into the legend and reflects the continuing everyday influence Sequoyah’s w...more
This is a biographical book about a native American named Sequoyah who created a writing system for the Cherokee language in the early 1800s. It is a story of great perseverance and ingenuity. Sequoyah is a hero to his people because his creation allowed the Cherokee to read and write in their own language. They were able to send letters, print books, and record the stories from their oral tradition, to ensure that they would not be lost even with the changing culture.
This book could accompany l...more
Laura Noto
Sequoyah is a picture book for grades 1-3. It follows a man through his life and his attempts to make a written language for his verbal Cherokee language. It begins with a family on vacation in the 1950s talking about the giant Sequoyah trees. They wonder about the man who the big, strong trees were named after. Then the father of the family tells the story of Sequoyah. You learn that he was just an average metalworker that was crippled. Since he wanted his people to stand strong in the...more
Opinion: This is a very interesting book. It again is a quick read and is written as a biography. The story is a very fast version of the history of Cherokee writing. I like it as in introductory piece, but I would have liked more details. He seemed to have lived a very interesting life. The book points out that we don’t often know the history of who created different alphabets, but this story gives that creation a voice. I liked the link between the trees and the life of the Cherokee. The actua...more
Hannah Jefferson
This book is a great read and a quick read for anyone interested in linguistics or Native American history. Framed by a young boy talking to his father and asking for whom the sequoia trees are named, this is an inspiring story about a recurring theme in popular biographies: people overcoming the doubts and taunting of others to achieve great things.

According to the book's copyright page, it is illustrated with "ink, watercolor, pastel, and pencil on drawing paper adhered to a rough piece of woo...more
Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing by James Rumford is a Sibert Honor Book for ages five to eight. Rumford tells the story of Sequoyah who developed a writing system that is used by the entire Cherokee nation. His writing system was turned into print in order to make books and newspaper, not just for writing letters and notes.

Rumford does not offer any citations about where he found his information or how he researched his book. The end of the book does offer a synopsis of i...more
Junior Book Reading Log
Source: Sibert award 2005

Beautiful illustrations created with a watercolor, ink, chalk, and color pencil accompany Rumford's tale of Sequoyah, the Cherokee man gave his people the power to read and write in their own language. Sequoyah was ridiculed and discouraged, but like the tall trees named after him, he stood unwavering and persevered. The Cherokee people held on to their written language throughout history against all odds. On each page readers will hav...more
Published in 2004 by Houghton Mifflin
Interest Level: 5th-8th Grade

This is a story about a man names Sequoyah who created a written language for the Cherokee people. This book is a bilingual book, which blew me away and there was an alphabet, explanation, and shot timeline at the end to explain the text and story in a deeper way. The illustrations were interesting but not distracting and the story was extremely interesting. I think that this true story is amazing and that many students would be i...more
I loved reading this story of Sequoyah with his humble beginnings but brilliant mind and how he understood that to preserve his people they needed written language. He spent a lot of time and was even ridiculed by his own people for what he was trying to do. In the end, he developed a syllabary (rather than characters to represent single sounds, they represent a syllable). The characters he developed were beautiful but a little too curvy and detailed for print type. Someone helped him simplify h...more
Interesting approach. Really neat to see the writing. Thought this would especially be interesting for David Enoch.
This is the biography of Sequoyah, the man who developed the Cherokee alphabet.

This book is very unique. Each passage is written in both English and Cherokee. The illustrations were created using a complex woodcutting method, and are quite interesting. The book explains that much of the information available regarding Sequoyah is undocumented, and is actually based on legend. But, the basic fact that he created the Cherokee alphabet remains accurate. The back of the book has a table showing the...more
My 8 yr old and I both really liked this book. It tells the story of Sequoyah, and how he created the Cherokee alphabet, in an informative way without being too didactic. I was interested too learn what an inspirational man Sequoyah was, who was resilient and determined. I think I learned just as much as my soon. The illustrations are nice and the inclusion of the Cherokee alphabet is fantastic. This is a great book for teaching but also for any kid or parent.
Phuong Dao
This book is about Sequoyah the cheerokee Indian who invent writing for the cherokee indian. When he saw the englishment invade and suppress his people he understood the important of literacy. He does not want his people to lose their root therefore he invent writing for his people and teach his people to read. He made a major impact in the history of the cherokee Indian in Georgia. This book is good to teach children about the history of Georgia.
This is a book about a famous Native American who created an alphabet so his people's language would never die. It's great for an integrated writing and social studies lesson because it teaches about a famous Native American and how he helped his people. It can also be used to have students write informational papers on Sequoyah and what he did to make him famous. It can be used to compare and contrast how Native Americans lived then and how we live now.
This was good, but I wanted more details about this fascinating man. I will need to read something else about him sometime soon. There were two suggestions given in the author's note at the end, so I'll have to track down one or both of them. This is a great starting point for students interested in learning about "the Cherokee man who gave his people writing."
Story of Sequoyah who invented a syllabary to allow the Cherokee people to read and write their own language. Very informative while still maintaining an interesting story line. Includes the Cherokee syllabary at the back and each page has the text written in English as well as Cherokee. A good book to teach about culture, the history of the Cherokee and writing.
Apr 20, 2012 Megan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 3rd grade and up
Recommended to Megan by: "Language Books" Library Sparks May/June 2012
How and why did an illiterate man decide at age 50 to create a written language for his people? Sequoyah's story is recorded here in English as well as Cherokee which makes the language more real and fascinating to students. A timeline of Sequoyah's life is included in the back, but no bibliography or suggestions for further reading.
This book is a great way to integrate childrens literature into social studies. Because it is a standard in GA for second graders to learn about the Cherokee and Creek Native Americans, I believe this a good book to teach children about a specific Cherokee and his amazing contribution to his people.
Memorable quotes:
-Sometimes disaster happens for a reason. Sometimes it says: "Follow a different path."
-He was a brave man because he never gave up. He was a leader because he showed his people how to survive- How to stand tall and proud like these trees.
Lisa Ford
Apr 04, 2008 Lisa Ford rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 3rd grade and up
This was a wonderful book and tells how Sequoyah actually faced opposition from his own people when he first began to try to make a written form of the Cherokee language. I like these biographies that are picture books.
Christie Suh
A story of the Cherokee man that invented a written language for his people. At first the man was viewed as crazy. Eventually his daughter began to read and the rest of the Cherokee people embraced the written language.
Robyn Simmons
Nov 26, 2008 Robyn Simmons rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: primary/intermediate readers
A man named Sequoyah created a writing system for the Cherokee Indians. He knew no English, but he was able to slowly comprise a system to help the Cherokee Indians to communicate their speech onto paper.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Tarantula Scientist
  • Walt Whitman: Words For America
  • John Brown: His Fight for Freedom
  • Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman
  • When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson
  • I Face the Wind
  • Action Jackson
  • Lightship
  • She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story
  • Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman
  • Gandhi
  • Noah Webster and His Words
  • Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon
  • Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal
  • The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon
  • Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World
  • Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World
  • Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry
I have been writing, illustrating, and designing children's books since 1996. I am on the verge of self-publishing through books that are printed on demand and via the internet. For more on my children's books, see my website: I also have a blog about writing and illustrating children's books at Besides commercially published books,...more
More about James Rumford...
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad Rain School From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354 Tiger and Turtle

Share This Book