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Stansfield, John. Writers of the American West; multicultural learning encounters.

Libraries Unltd., Teacher Ideas. 262p. illus. maps. bibliogs. indexes. c2002. 1-56308-801-0. $32.00. A

As Stansfield explains in his Introduction. the purpose of this work is to help "young people and their teachers, whether they live in the West or not, come to better understand and respect the land, people, and history of western North America." To this end, excerpts from the autobiographical writings of ten Western writers are the focal point of the 10 chapters. The writers represented are: Charles A. Eastman, Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, Hal Borland, Julia Archibald Holmes, Ralph Moody, John Muir, Margaret Murie, Beverly Cleary, Gary Soto, and Laurence Yep.

Following the Introduction is a helpful User's Guide that thoroughly catalogues what each chapter contains. Chapter sections include: An Appreciation of the Writer, which introduces the subject of the chapter and provides details about the writer's literary accomplishments; In His/Her Own Words, which gives an excerpt from the writer's autobiography; The Writer's Life, a biographical sketch of the writer focusing on childhood or adolescence; Teaching Advice, which offers helpful background tips for the educator including an assessment of the age appropriateness of the material; Learning Horizons, which offers a variety of educational experiences in the areas of Literature Aloud, Language Arts, and Social Studies; and Resources, an annotated bibliography of book, video, and Internet materials.

This text is likely to be used by a teacher looking for supplementary materials. Each chapter functions independently of the others. One strength of Stansfield's work is its thoroughness. The material is clearly organized and there are many more suggested activities than one could possibly use. One weakness is that the amount of primary source material in any given chapter is rather meager. The educator is encouraged to find additional materials as necessary.

The multidisciplinary approach is definitely a plus. Some of the activity suggestions are presented in reproducible format. The focus on Western writers should be of high interest to the target audience, which is Grades 4-8. Anthony J. Pucci, English Dept. Chair., Notre Dame H.S., Elmira, NY
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Author:Pucci, Anthony J.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2002
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