Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith


Ray Halfmoon and his Grampa Halfmoon, who has raised him since his parents were killed in an accident, are very close.  They both love baseball, animals, and Indian Shoes (the high-top sneaker kind and the moccasin kind). They shop, fish, solve problems together and support one another.
This short story collection, is a heartwarming glimpse into the life of Ray, a Seminole-Cherokee boy, who loves the life he and his Grampa share in Chicago, and sometimes Oklahoma. It paints a beautiful picture of contemporary Native Americans and everyday life.

Genre - Realistic Fiction
Text Structure - Chapter book
Lexile Level  - 820L

Themes - Family, intergenerational relationships, loss, everyday life, baseball, self-knowledge, love & support, sacrifice, problem solving, animals


Ethnicity: Seminole-Cherokee
Age: 7-10/intergenerational
Gender: boy
Socio-Economic: working class
National: USA
Religion: Christian/indigenous


  • Cynthia Leitich Smith  gives the reader authentic representations of present day Native American life for one Seminole-Cherokee family. The details are both explicit and nuanced, subtly challenging stereotypes, bias and deficit thinking about present day Native Americans.   She  does this all in a way that is engaging for 2-4 graders

  • Attention to  to  food, music, celebrations, games, dress, and visual arts and crafts  is nuanced.

  • Smith delivers with precision the rich, nuanced examples of  unspoken, and unconscious rules of Seminole-Cherokee  culture that make these stories both a wonderful read and excellent choice for CLR teaching.

    • Some of the deep culture rules evident in the novel - relationships to animals, conversational patterns, concept of “self”, patterns of handling emotions, attitudes towards elders,  ideals of child rearing, nonverbal communication, problem solving in relation to age, kinship.



Journal Prompt  + Inner- Outer Circle

Introduce the text by giving students a journal prompt to help them make a connection and access prior knowledge.  Students should choose ONE of the prompts and respond to it. Give students approximately 3-5 minutes to draw their response.

Draw a picture of your favorite shoes, or a pair of shoes that you would love to have.


Draw a picture of your favorite thing to do with a grandparent or other adult caregiver/relative. (For example, cook dinner, go fishing, dance, go shopping etc.)

Inner - Outer Circle (Modified)

Validates/Affirms: Interpersonal, Dynamic Attention Span, Communalism, Reciprocity

  1. Have students form two circles.

    1. One inner circle where each student faces out towards  students making  up the outer circle, who face in.  Each student should be facing another student.

  2. Next, begin with the inner circle and ask those students to share/discuss their picture. Give them 30 seconds.

  3. Then the students in the outer circle should share/discuss their picture. They also have 30 seconds.

  4. When the 60 seconds is up, instruct students in the outer circle(or the inner circle) to rotate one student clockwise, and the process is repeated until several rotations are completed and/or one full rotation is made.

    You have the option of having one circle rotating one student clockwise and the other circle rotating one student counter-clockwise if you want all students to have an opportunity to move.

I gave this a 7-10 on Responsive Dots. What did you give it?