One of the sweetest Alaska books I’ve read is The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale which is retold by Lydia Dabcovich. This beautifully illustrated book is adapted from stories told by the Inuit people. The Inuit are known for their stories passed down from generation to generation. These stories tell of mighty hunters and unique animals who lived in their land.
My children are fascinated by local tales and mythology. In fact my 2 year old once named her stuffed kitten, Aphrodite. (Can you tell we were reading Greek mythology at the time?) But as we have settled into Alaska, I’ve begun teaching my children about the people of this land, as well. The Inuit people are a resilient and amazing people. They have beautiful stories passed down throughout time, and we have thoroughly enjoyed teaching our children some of these tales.
Overview of The Polar Bear Son
The Polar Bear Son is a tale adapted from Inuit legend. The story tells of a woman from the north who was old and all by herself; she had no family to help her gather food. She did her best to care for herself, but often had to depend on others. But one day she found a lost polar bear cub and decided to take care of him. As time passed, the polar bear grew and became the hunter who cared for the woman who rescued him. But the village hunters became angry that the polar bear was a better hunter than them. In an effort to save the bear from the village hunters, the old woman sent him away to be safe. But after this she would go out into the icy wilderness from time to time and call for the polar bear. Upon hearing her voice, the faithful polar bear would always come to her, bringing her food to help her live.
Character Building Lessons
Not only is this book a beautiful book with simple, realistic sketches (my favorite type of illustration), it is also a wonderful traditional story passed down from generation to generation from the Inuits. And I love the character building lessons that we are able to teach through reading The Polar Bear Son. The old woman is a kind woman who cares for a lost polar bear. She could have ignored him, but instead she rescued him showing kindness to the small, yet soon to be large, bear. In return, the bear is faithful, returning to provide food for the woman who showed him kindness and saved him.
A Definite Must for your Alaska Book Collection
My children love to be regaled by this tale, and will sit on my lap looking through the pictures eagerly as I read the book multiple times in a row. The pictures are thoughtful and the children study them quietly, asking questions and making observations. And we’ve had many good conversations on how The Polar Bear Son portrays different character traits that we want (as well as don’t want in the case of the village hunters).
I hope after reading this Polar Bear Son review that you will borrow this book from your local library, or purchase it on Amazon! And while you read this book to your children, be sure to download this FREE worksheet I created to go along with the book. It is a simple way to let your children learn more about polar bears while you read them this story. (The worksheet is perfectly usable whether you get the book or not.)
Also, be sure to keep checking back here for more Alaska books for kids! New ones will be featured the first Wednesday of every month and each will include a free worksheet to pair nicely with the topics of the children’s Alaska books.