Winnipeg author teaching kids about Indigenous culture through picture book

A Winnipeg author is aiming to teach young children about Indigenous culture through picture books.

Tasha Spillett-Sumner began writing I Sang You Down from the Stars while she was pregnant with her daughter about two years ago.

Her daughter, Isabella, is now 15 months old and enjoying the book herself.

“I wanted to tell the story that our teachings hold about how children come to our families,” Spillett-Sumner said.

“The story in I Sang You Down from the Stars is really a love song between a mother and child in that time when she’s hoping and wishing for the child and then preparing for the child to come.”

Spillett-Sumner’s book hit No. 3 on a New York Times bestsellers list in April.

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She has published books in the past, but thought it was really important to write one for children.

“I’ve always admired picture books, but now with my daughter, it’s a new inspiration to write own-voice picture books in which our children can see themselves and our families and communities reflected in beautiful, dignified ways on the page,” she said.

“Indigenous people come from such beautiful, strong teachings that have kept their nations strong and alive through some of the most horrific things … so I think about particularly now as we hold our children in our arms, it’s so important we do everything we can to ensure that they still have a connection to that ancestral beauty, strength.”

Spillett-Sumner has more books on the way and hopes to reach as many children as possible.

“As an author, I feel like it’s my responsibility and part of my gift to write into reality a world that is worthy of my daughter, that is worthy of all of our children.”

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