Books, Educator Book Reviews

Educator Book Review: Looks Like Daylight


Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
Written by Deborah Ellis
Published by Groundwood Books
Category: Teen/Young Adult, Social Studies, Humanities, History

Reviewed by Pam Gray,
Assistant Principal, Edmonton Public Schools


Looks Like Daylight begins with an historical look at Residential Schools in Canada and Industrial schools in the United States during the 1800-1900s. Indigenous people from across North America struggled and suffered at the hands of their governments. Deborah Ellis gives the reader the background knowledge of laws that both the Canadian and U.S. governments put into place to take away the freedom and rights of the various Indigenous bands.


The author travelled across North America conducting interviews that captured the first hand stories of First Nations, Native American, Metis, and Inuit children aged nine to eighteen. This book is a collection of the unique stories told by the interviewed youth and the struggles they have inherited and the history of their elders. Each story begins with a brief history of the Indigenous band and describes some of the major stumbling blocks for those communities.

As you read through the 42 different stories, you have a chance to learn about both sides of the spectrum. Some stories reflect the struggles— addiction, foster care, suicide, homelessness, and school issues—with which these children are growing up. For many, the negative view of “White People” passed down from their elders, remains. These children hold onto events that happened generations ago. Other stories reflect the successes—youth empowerment, keeping traditions and language alive, advocating on behalf of FNMI youth—that some children are experiencing. Some stories share a powerful message of breaking the cycle and stereotypes; choosing instead to be mindful and an advocate for their generation.

Teachers will find many classroom discussion topics and conversation starters within these stories. Not only will students learn more about the historical treatment of Indigenous people throughout North America, but they will also be able to relate to children their own age and perhaps be inspired to think differently about youth in their own communities. Looks Like Daylight would be an excellent resource to use with both junior high and high school-aged students. This book provides non-Indigenous youth with some very personal narratives written by their peers and allows the reader to consider a life story that could be very different from their own. The reader’s perceptions of Indigenous youth will be challenged and stereotypes will be broken as the resilience of the youth interviewed shines through.