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The Birchbark House (The Birchbark House)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  2,885 ratings  ·  460 reviews
Her name is Omakayas, or Little Frog, because her first step was a hop, and she lives on an island in Lake Superior. It is 1850 and the lives of the Ojibwe have returned to a familiar rhythm: they build their birchbark houses in the summer, go to the ricing camps in the fall to harvest and feast, and move to their cozy cedar log cabins near the town of LaPointe before the ...more
Paperback, 239 pages
Published September 2003 by Scholastic (first published 1999)
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Chanel idk it is crazy thought

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Melody
Jun 10, 2010 Melody rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: A Bevy of Burtons
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catherine
This is a gorgeous book - a year in the life of Omakayas, a young Ojibwe girl who lives at the edge of Lake Superior in 1847. The book weaves together a dozen different strands of narrative - Omakayas' family responsibilities and affections; her work as young woman; the subsistence patterns of her community; the effect of trade and sickness on the Ojibwe; the potential for treaties and removal by the Americans; the world of medicine, and of spirits; the presence of missionaries and their schooli ...more
Lisa Vegan
Thank you a million times over to the Children's Books group because I’d tried to read this book some time back, got about or so the way through it, and put it down because I didn’t enjoy the writing style. Because it’s one of the books chosen as a group read for this book, and because I know a couple of people who love this book, I decided to again try to read it. I’m so grateful that I took this new opportunity.

I have such a difficult time with this author’s writing style. Many readers love i
...more
Chris  Ibert
This is a beautifully written book about Native American life in the time of Westward Expansion. It focuses on the Ojibwe tribe, located on an island in Lake Superior. It gives the reader a very clear picture of day-to-day life in the tribe, with the center of the story being one family in particular. As it is written for adolescent readers, or even a little younger, it describes their life through the eyes of an 8 year old girl and the author captures her innocence authentically. At times in th ...more
Amanda H
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Jess
So, not only can Louise Erdrich write excellent adult fiction, but she is also a master at children's stories.

This book would be a perfect way for young readers to branch out and explore different cultures, as well as different time periods. The book focuses mainly on Omakayas (Oh-MAH-kay-as) and her life and the customs of an Oijbwa tribe. I loved Omakayas--she was such a great protagonist. She's smart beyond her years, but she's also just a normal kid, and that makes her relatable to her read
...more
Katelyn
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdich is a great book for readers wanting to learn about the Native American culture or a specific tribe. I enjoyed reading this book because I was able to understand what Omakayas was feeling and thinking with her encounter with the bear to losing her youngest sibling. I especially liked that the author included how important the dreams of Native American's were important to their culture. It opened my eyes up to a culture that I did not know much about and was ab ...more
Benjamin Thomas
This is a story that covers a year in the life of Omakayas, a young Ojibwe girl who lives at the edge of Lake Superior in 1847. It reminds me a lot of the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder in that it is a young girl’s perspective on everyday life and especially the interactions with her family. Life can be fun as well as challenging and even occasionally catastrophic. She also interacts with animals, most especially a crow that becomes a sort of pet. While definitely written for young ...more
Julesmarie
One of our literature books for 3rd grade at our school is Little House on the Prairie. Last year, the full-blooded Navajo parent of one of my students was bothered enough by the portrayal of Native Americans in that book that he asked to come in and talk to the class about his tribe.

We decided to add a literature book from a Native American perspective to help balance things out a little. I was delighted to finally find this one.

Omakayas, the main character in the book is 7 turning 8 years old,
...more
Elizabeth
In The Birchbark House, Louise Erdrich introduces the reader to Omakayas, which means Little Frog. Omakayas lives with her family on the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker in Lake Superior in 1847. Her father is part Ojibwa and part French. He spends most of the year traveling by canoe trading along Lake Superior to provide for his family. Her mother and grandmother spend most of their days taking care of the family, raising crops, gathering from the forest, and sewing. They live a hard l ...more
Margaret
American Indian Youth Literature Award 2006

This is the story of Omakayas, which means little frog, and is told from her perspective. She has parents, a grandmother, an older sister, and two younger brothers. At the beginning of the story, the family is moving from their winter home in a cedar cabin to put together their summer home, a birchbark house. Omakayas has a different relationship with each member of her family. Her father is most often off trading along Lake Superior, where they live. S
...more
Jamie Leslie
In the book The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich, a young girl named Omakayas lives with her family in the year 1849. When she was a baby, she was the lone survivor of a smallpox outbreak that killed everyone in her village. She then was placed with a foster family though she has no idea that she is not related to them by blood. This story proceeds to tell about Omakayas and her crisis with discovering who she is and what she is meant to do in her life. A great story filled with destiny, hope, ...more
Amy Rae
I'm basically heartbroken that I never had a chance to read this as a child, because I would have eaten it up and begged for seconds. This is a perfect little book--heartwrenching, yes, but full of good humor and strength as well. It's one of those books where I basically can't figure out what to say about it here, because all I really want to do is hug it to my chest and find a small child to read it to.
Daryl
I occasionally read, and enjoy, young adult literature. The best of it is certainly on a par with any "adult" fiction. This book is aimed at even younger readers, maybe late elementary or middle schoolers. That may be part of the problem I had with it. It describes in some detail the daily life of a family of Ojibwa living on an island in Lake Superior sometime in the 1800s (the time frame is never very clear, but there is plenty of talk of the encroaching white man). Unfortunately, there's not ...more
Ryan
The story "The Birchbark House" by Louise Erdrich takes place in Lake Superior in 1847. The story is about Omakayas who is 7 years old who is moving to another camp because of what they do each fall. On a cold winter night, a mysterious man knocks at Omakayas' cabin. He presents Omakaya and her family a "friend" of his which is really an invisible person. But as the story moves on Omakaya learns some family history of her ancestors. On a rating of 1-5, 5 being the best, I would give it a 3 becau ...more
Andrea Snoddy
This book was very relatable to me, I have a big family just like Okamayas in the book and I don't always get along with my siblings either. The unusual use of natural resources and the stories told and how utensils and objects are made and used was like a flash to the past for me and it was fun to jump into the story and live it myself.
Amy
This was just ok. I read it for the school library. I'm probably not the best judge since Native American lore is not of particular interest to me. However, I enjoyed the picturesque quality about it and it was interesting enough that I wanted to finish it. The main character is an 8 year old girl and I did find the depressive theme a but too heavy for one so young. It felt like an older person talking but maybe that was intentional on he authors part. I think she wanted her to be special. Nothi ...more
Anna Smithberger
I really enjoyed The Birchbark House, and I wish I had discovered it sooner. Needless to say, I really need to read more Louise Erdrich.
Carolynne
Auspicious beginning to a trilogy of books by Native American author Louise Erdrich. Omakayas is rescued from an island decimated by smallpox by a strong and individual woman, Old Tallow, and is adopted by an Anishabe family. Their beloved island, Island of the Golden Woodpecker, is coveted by English settlers and the traditional life of the tribe is changing. When smallpox hits this community, Omakayas (Little Frog) is able to help nurse some members of her family back to health, and as a resul ...more
Emily Wright
Personal Reaction - This book was very interesting. It provided a whole new perspective to life as a young Native American girl that I had never read before. It was funny, sad, and very intense at times. The emotion in the book was apparent and hard to ignore.

Purpose - I would read this book aloud to my class to make a curricular connection for a social studies unit. There are so many things that children could get out of this book including, all of the elements of a story, the conflicts in the
...more
Phoua Yang
I enjoyed this book. It was written in a fiction type book format and was not too factual being a non-fiction in all. The book's format made it easier for me to keep up with the reading but the reason why I gave this book a four star instead of five stars was because I felt that it was in a way confusing. Maybe it is just me but I had a hard time trying to relate to Omakayas and her siblings. I don't know much about the culture so maybe that is what makes it harder for me to relate but other tha ...more
Devin
I am thankful for Louise Erdrich and her writing. I have enjoyed all of the books I've read by her, and The Birchbark House is no exception. This story is similar to the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, but it has much more depth and unforgettable characters, like Omakayas, or Little Frog. She is an Ojibwa girl, and the story is told from her perspective as she and her family live through a year in northern Wisconsin on Madeline Island. Omakayas was found as a very young child ("not yet two moons") ...more
Michelle
In the spirit of the Little House books, but so much more honest. Perhaps because Erdrich is not telling her own story, she doesn't fall into the trap of being overly sentimental. Whereas the Little House books are all about independence and boot-strappiness, even to the point of playing down those moments when the Ingalls needed their neighbors, this book is all about the importance of community and connections with the world around. And, of course, the portrayal of Native Americans is positive ...more
Katie Dubik Schwarz
Lorelei is all about Native American anything right now as her first grade class is learning about Powhatan tribe. This book is about a different tribe but I know the author and this series of books (there are four) has received good reviews. So Lorelei read it, and I read it separately, so I could discuss any serious matter with her. And there is some serious matter in here!

The book covers one year/four seasons of one family's life. The main character, Little Frog, experiences incredible heart
...more
Sam
I liked "Birchbark House". The characters were interesting and I felt like I could relate to Omakayas and her family. The events in the story were difficult to read sometimes but I think it is good for students to read about real events that happen to real people. "Birchbark House" is about the Ojibwa tribe from around Lake Superior. This book would be a great introduction to other cultures and could be used in addition to pioneer studies. "Birchbark House" demonstrates how Native Americans live ...more
Santorini
I read this for a class. This review is written after class discussion of this book.

This is the story of one year in a girl’s life. This I find interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it makes you feel as if you are getting a window into Omakayas’s everyday life. At times, this got a little boring due to the fact that there was no great adventure or sort of quest that must take place. While there were some tenser moments in the book, this set up reinforces a sense of normalcy. You are only g
...more
Sara Mcbride
A beautifully written book, gorgeous detail. I love the Ojibwa traditions and customs noted in this book. I thought it was interesting to know what the Ojibwa thought about the white men spreading disease. It makes you think back it what people back then could have done differently instead of just barging in on someone else's land. What was also interesting was the kind of dreams people had. How people thought that spirits were visiting them, sometimes even spirits of dead people. That was very ...more
Carol
Still wonderful over a decade since my first reading, The Birchbark House, written and illustrated by Louise Erdrich, is set in the mid 1800s on an island in Lake Superior. The story reflects traditional Ojibwa life through the eyes of a young girl, Omakayas. The book was a National Book Award nominee and the sequel is The Game of Silence. This would be an excellent choice for those seeking to learn or teaching about Native Americans.
Julie
Ages 2nd grade and up

This book was wonderful. I think it might even be a new favorite of mine. I started reading it before I knew anything about it, and instantly it put me in mind of the Little House series, which is my #1 all-time favorite book series. (And now I see that they are regularly compared to Little House, which makes sense.) The illustrations by Erdrich are so sweet and homey, very similar in style to Garth Williams' illustrations in Little House. I am planning to purchase some of E
...more
Dan Holt
The Birchbark House follows a family of Anishinabe through one year, from summer to spring, through the eyes of an eight year old girl, Omakayas. Highlights are the illness that plagues the family in the winter, and the growing awareness of Omakayas' destiny. Bears also figure prominently in the story. Although geared toward a young audience, adults will find the imagery and POV character compelling. ...more
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Karen Louise Erdrich is a American author of novels, poetry, and children's books. Her father is German American and mother is half Ojibwe and half French American. She is an enrolled member of the Anishinaabe nation (also known as Chippewa). She is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renais ...more
More about Louise Erdrich...

Other Books in the Series

The Birchbark House (4 books)
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“Where was I?"
"A different island," said old Tallow. Her voice was stern, but there was an ache in her look that Omakayas had never before seen. "An island called Spirit Island where everyone but you died of the itching sickness- you were the toughest one, the littlest one, and you survived them all."

"You were sent here so you could save the others," she said. "Because you'd had the sickness, you were strong enough to nurse them through it. They did a good thing when they took you in, and you saved them for their good act. Now the circle that began when I found you is complete.”
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