Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Encounter” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,102 Ratings  ·  144 Reviews
When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, what he discovered were the Taino Indians. Told from a young Taino boy’s point of view, this is a story of how the boy tried to warn his people against welcoming the strangers, who seemed more interested in golden ornaments than friendship. Years later the boy, now an old man, looks back at the destruc ...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 20th 1996 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1992)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Encounter, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

D.R. Considering the mass genocide and blatant violation of all human rights that follows the arrival of these 'newcomers', I think that this book is…moreConsidering the mass genocide and blatant violation of all human rights that follows the arrival of these 'newcomers', I think that this book is completely legitimate in its construction. An instinct toward wariness toward the unfamiliar is an ingrained instinct of humanity, but it also points to the fact that the Taino were treated *like animals*. They were effectively chattel filling a land they had once inhabited in the eyes of these conquerors, and it is important, especially given future ramifications, that these stories not be forgotten nor erased.

There are so many stories that paint Columbus and all 'explorers' as gentile, but they do a disservice to the history and the entire world to denigrate and debilitate the truth. Even for children, it is necessary (for some more than others, unfortunately) to teach them that all is not good, and this book does an excellent job.(less)
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls WilderAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryLittle Women by Louisa May AlcottThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Best Children's Historical Fiction
207th out of 612 books — 660 voters
Owl Moon by Jane YolenThe Emperor and the Kite by Jane YolenDragon's Blood by Jane YolenHeart's Blood by Jane YolenA Sending of Dragons by Jane Yolen
Best of Jane Yolen
66th out of 100 books — 2 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,977)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 03, 2011 G RdM rated it really liked it
I see how some people are bothered by the excruciating truth this story wishes to Impart to young readers. The story of Columbus is not a happy one for everyone. Not everything needs to be written and illustrated with rose colored glasses. Children, I am sure were terrified by the white men in weird clothes and crazy talk. I don't think you had to be there to know that, and I think the author explains that she is merely writing a fictionalized account of what happened and took into consideration ...more
Mar 16, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Encounter is the story of Christopher Columbus from the point of view of a native Taino boy. The boy dreams of strangers coming to their island and posing a threat to his people. He tries to warn his people, but no one listens because he is a child. The story shows how the Taino eventually lost their culture and language because of this encounter. This book presents an alternate perspective from the traditional versions found in most history books.

Themes: Taino culture, Columbus, greed, slavery
Nov 02, 2008 Maureen rated it really liked it
This is the story of Columbus's first landfall in the new world, San Salvador, 1492. It is told with eloquence and prophetic wisdom from a Taino boy's point of view. The child thinks the ships are great birds and the the strange pale faced visitors have come from the sky. In innocence they are welcomed, but the boy's fears of the strangers foreshadow the future colonization and enslavement of the natives by the European invaders.

Since most stories of Columbus's voyages are told from the Europea
Feb 20, 2010 Ch_jank-caporale rated it really liked it
When Christopher Columbus first landed in the Americas, he was met by a gentle people identified as the Taino of San Salvador. Within a few years, the tribe virtually vanished through violence when they sought to resist the European invasion, and through the diseases brought by the new-comers.
Encounter interprets first contact through the eyes of a young Taino boy, and we vicaiously experience his uneasiness and distrust of the foreigners. Near the end, he is taken prisoner,intended to be made
Justina Ofori
Jun 20, 2015 Justina Ofori rated it it was amazing
"Encounter" is a historical fiction by Jane Yolen. The book tells the story of Christopher Columbus from the perspective of a young native Taino boy. Before the arrival of Columbus and his men, the boy had a dream about strangers coming to harm his people. No one listened to him because he was a child. This book teaches a lesson that children too can know things and inform adults. This sends a positive message to young readers and teaches that we should not rule out what someone is saying becaus ...more
Jun 14, 2015 Kavi rated it really liked it
In terms of a historical fiction text, "Encounter" by Jane Yolen offers a unique perspective. The book is narrated by a young Taino Indian who is unsure of who the Europeans on Columbus' ships are or what they want. In the Author's Note, Yolen writes, "Since most stories about that first encounter are from Columbus's point of view, I thought it would interest readers to hear a Taino boy speak. we don't have an actual record of that, so I have re-created what he might have said -- using historica ...more
Jun 14, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
Text Set: Social Tragedy
Subject Matter: Colonization
Published: 1992
Book 4

Encounter by Jane Yolen is told from the fictionalized perspective of a boy who was part of the Taino of San Salvador, the first tribe to have interacted with Columbus.

The story is unique because most stories about Columbus are told from his perspective, and certainly most stories portray him as a hero. However, in Encounter we see Columbus as an invader and colonizer. In the beginning the young boy describes seeing the Spa
Megan Cureton
Encounter is told in a young Taino boy's point of view. The author did this because most stories of the first encounter are from Christopher Columbus's point of view. The young boy tried to warn his people that these people were bad, but no one would listen to him because he was such a young boy. As he spends more time with these "sky" people, he notices that they really look at his people's gold armbands and nose rings and such and that tells him that they aren't good. I liked the part in the b ...more
Deyanira Genao
Jun 30, 2015 Deyanira Genao rated it it was amazing
If you are teaching your students about Christopher Columbus, or simply need a text to teach your students about perspective and point of view, Jane Yolen's Encounter will satisfy those gaps in your curriculum. Told from the perspective of a young native boy, Encounter details the progression from the Europeans' first arrival to their exploitation of Native people. The first person point of view offers readers a more holistic understanding of what that initial "encounter" between these two group ...more
Apr 14, 2015 Amber rated it really liked it
I found this book to be extremely interesting, especially since it was told from a child's perspective. I really liked how he told of how strange the people looked to him and to his people, and I could definitely see that that is how white men would have looked to Indian tribes when they first got to this country. I think there is an important lesson in this book as well; no matter how young someone is or what they look like, they should be listened to and heard, even if you do not agree with th ...more
Emma Hoyer
Apr 04, 2015 Emma Hoyer rated it it was amazing
Literature Requirement: **Historical Fiction #1 (picture book)**

I thought that this book was a very unique perspective (as well as a very important one) on the story of Christopher Columbus. The fact that a child is showcased as the main character, who ends up being wiser than his years, is very influential to young readers, as well as to adults. Too often, especially in American culture, children are told to be quiet, sit still, and their opinions and ideas are valued at a much lesser level. It
Naa-Shorme Aidoo
Jun 17, 2015 Naa-Shorme Aidoo rated it really liked it
I was honestly blown away by this historical fiction. The stance that Yolen takes on European exploration in Encounter. Often the story of Christopher Columbus is celebrated by our country and curriculum but Yolen provides us with the vantage point of Native Americans during the time in which Christopher Columbus arrived in North America and claimed it as his own. It gives students perspective on how the Native Americans viewed the European explorers as outsiders and negatively depicts them as g ...more
Dec 07, 2015 Alia rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book because it is supposed to be from the Indigenous, Taino perspective. Here's the problem with this book, though it does get kids thinking about history from the indigenous perspective, Yolen ruins this book by going the "All the Indians are dead/disappearing Indian route." The old man literally is disappearing on the last page! This is simply not true and is very unfortunate. She stresses that there are no full blood Taino instead of taking the opportunity to use this b ...more
Mar 26, 2015 Shelby rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Historical Fiction

This is a good book to introduce to elementary school students who are learning about the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. This book is a great way to show students how there are two sides to every story. Most elementary school students (and adults!) go through life celebrating the life of Christopher Columbus and thinking that the traditional elementary school rendition of the first Thanksgiving is the way it really was. This book paints a different story for t
This is a great book to share with third to fifth graders because it exposes them to a different view of Christopher Columbus. Encounter is about a young boy from a Taino tribe who dreams of dangerous creatures invading and endagering his people. The next morning ships with different men land which leads the young boy to believe that the dream was warning him of these strangers. The boy tries multiple times to warn his chief and his people, but they will not listen to him because he is a child a ...more
Christina Fisher
Jul 24, 2014 Christina Fisher rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story about Christopher Columbus's first landing on the island of San Salvador in 1492, but told from the perspective of a young native indian boy on the island named Taino. He attempts to warn his people not to be friendly or welcoming to Columbus and the strangers he has brought with him because of their interest in the potential treasure and land to be gained by their location. The beautiful, rich pictures done by David Shannon are not like his typical cartoon-like style, b ...more
Keely Bailey
Apr 03, 2013 Keely Bailey rated it it was amazing
Great book about Christopher Columbus' voyage from a non-European perspective.
Alison Durbin
Apr 09, 2015 Alison Durbin rated it really liked it
I felt incredibly sad reading this book, but I really appreciated the fact that it told the story of Christopher Columbus from a different perspective. He may be painted as a hero who discovered America (unintentionally), but there was a dark side to his story that is slightly hinted at in this book. I thought that the illustrations were well done and succeeded in showing the "pale-skinned" people in a way that made me fear them as much as the main character. I think this would be a great book t ...more
When first looking at the cover of this book I was immediately intrigued. Christopher Columbus in this picture looks huge and menacing, which is not how history usually portrays him. This story tells the tale of explorers from Europe from the natives perspective. Introducing this book to students would be a great way to show them that there are two sides to every story, and history often does not share the other side of the story, or the disadvantaged perspective. This was one of my favorite boo ...more
Apr 12, 2015 Kim rated it it was amazing
Oh my, I loved this book. It is written from the view of a Native American boy when ships carrying white people arrive in the Americas for the first time. What a great book to have in the classroom to put a new perspective on how the Native Americans felt upon the arrival of the new people. I will be including several copies of this book into my own classroom library. I am so glad that this was a book that I had to buy. I most likely would not have even looked at this book otherwise. Thank you i ...more
Vamos a Leer
May 06, 2015 Vamos a Leer rated it liked it
Encounter by Jane Yolen is told from the fictionalized perspective of a boy who was part of the Taino, the first tribe to have interacted with Columbus.

Encounter is one of the only children’s books to provide a narrative that gives voice to the Taino peoples. Perhaps this is, in part, because it is a hard narrative to share with young readers. The book has a somber tone and dark illustrations, suiting the grim story which it recounts. Readers learn about the encounter from the perspective of a y
Aug 18, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. If you look in the children's section for Columbus books, it's all a glorious rewriting of history, but this book tells it from a native Taino's perspective.

What I don't like about it is the narrative simply presents a negative impression of European conquistadors without presenting actual negative actions taken, which can only be found in the author's note at the end. (Some actions taken within the narrative, like planting the flag or bringing the native on b
Encounter is a book about the discovery of America from a Taino tribal boy’s point of view. The boy had bad dreams about the Spanish arriving on their land. He warned his people not to welcome the strangers, who did quite look like people because of the color of their skin and the coverings of their body, on their land. They didn’t listen to him because he was a child. When the strangers left the next day, they took 5 young men, the boy and lots of parrots with them. The boy quietly escap
Shelbi Bishop
Nov 17, 2011 Shelbi Bishop rated it it was amazing
This book is about the San Salvadorian's view of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. In the POV of a young boy, you see what the they may have seen and read what they may have thought. At the end there is an Author's Note that lays down many facts about the discovery of America.

This book would be a great resource to use during your discussion of the discovery of America. It shows you that Christopher Columbus did not discover North America, like some students my believe. This could also
Oct 26, 2012 Yasmeen rated it it was amazing
Grade/Interest level: Upper Elementary
Reading level:760 L
Genre: Historical Fiction
Main Characters: Taino boy
Setting: island of San Salvador in 1942
POV: from Taino boy
This story takes place in 1942 surrounding Christopher Columbus’ landing onto the island of San Salvador. It is told through the eyes of a young Taino boy who had a dream about strange people who come to his land to bring harm to his people. When the Taino people first encountered Colombus and his crew, they were confused because th
Oct 06, 2013 Faith rated it it was amazing
Book title: Encounter by Jane Yolen

Short description: This is a story about the first landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World.

Narrative features I would use use in a mini-lesson:

1. Point of view: Jane Yolen writes about Christopher Columbus in a different way. She writes in the perspective of a native boy. This is a powerful way to write about a historic event that is written about over and over again. Instead of telling the same story everyone has heard a million times, she chooses
Jun 03, 2012 A_Jenny rated it really liked it
Christopher's first encounter with the Taino Indians as his ships landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492 was not the pretty picture as many historians have led it to be as this young boy who had attempted to warn his village against, and remembers how his culture and civilization were destroyed by these strangers. The point of view told in this story was from that young Taino Indian recollecting how his village was in such awe of the gold ornaments and fancy clothing that they have forgott ...more
Katie Nanney
This book was interesting. It brought a different perspective to Columbus' arrival and how it was not the exciting discovery history textbooks make it out to be. The illustrations went well with the story and the boy's perspective helped remind me that there is so much about history we do not know or understand. I think I would like to hold on to this book and explain to my students that history has different perspectives and we need to look at all of them to get an accurate picture of what happ ...more
Mar 02, 2010 Ch_beverlyatwood rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-fic
As Christopher Columbus landed on San Salvador a young Taino boy accounts the strangers arrival. He describes how the strangers were so different from anyone on the island. Their clothing, skin color, and language were so different. But they almost behaved like human beings since they laughed and gave strings of beads and hats that made the boy not so afraid. The boy was among five natives taken prisioner from their land. The boy escaped and lived to warn others to be afraid of the strangers tha ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 65 66 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Something Beautiful
  • Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins
  • Gleam and Glow
  • Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez
  • Freedom Summer
  • Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad
  • Molly Bannaky
  • The Wretched Stone
  • Baseball Saved Us
  • Goin' Someplace Special
  • A Taste of Colored Water
  • The Other Side
  • Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus
  • The Name Jar
  • I Lost My Tooth In Africa
  • Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
  • When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson
  • Richard Wright and the Library Card
Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more
More about Jane Yolen...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »