Runs With Courage

Ten-year-old Four Winds is a young Lakota girl caught up in the changes brought about by her people's forced move to the reservation. Set in the Dakota Territory, it is the year 1880. Four Winds has been taken away from her family and brought to a boarding school run by whites. It is here she is taught English and learns how to assimilate into white culture. But soon she discovers that the teachers at this school are not interested in assimilation but rather in erasing her culture. On the reservation, Four Winds had to fight against starvation. Now she must fight to hold on to who she is.

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Interest Level Grade 4 - Grade 7
Reading Level Grade 5
Dewey FIC
ATOS Reading Level
Guided Reading Level W
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585369843), Paperback (9781585369850), PDF (9781627539647), Hosted ebook (9781627539876)
Copyright 2016
Number of Pages 224
Dimensions 5.5 x 8
  • 2016 MPIBA Reading the West Book Award, Winner
  • 2017 NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, 2017

Booklist - Runs with Courage

Four Winds is a 10-year-old Lakota girl who must find courage after being forced to leave her tiospaye, family community, and attend a boarding school. The novel is set in 1880, and it is evident to the reader from the beginning that white settlers have displaced and coerced the Lakota people. Four Winds quickly, and painfully, learns that the boarding school has no interest in preserving her culture. Readers and educators should start with the appended author’s note, which provides brief historical context for this story, in order to better understand the complexity of boarding-school narratives within Native American culture. Although Wolf’s characters endure a variety of violence, such as being physically punished for speaking their native tongue, they also refuse to forget their Lakota traditions. Their resilience and resistance is apparent throughout this dark yet moving piece of historical fiction. Consider pairing with Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer’s I Am Not a Number (2016) or Nancy Bo Flood’s Soldier Sister, Fly Home (2016).

Runs with Courage - Teaching Guide

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Author: Joan M. Wolf

Joan M. Wolf is both a teacher and an author. She considers herself lucky to have found a way to be able to work with both of her passions: teaching and writing. After receiving her MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University, she began publishing fiction. The idea for Runs with Courage, her first Sleeping Bear Press book, was sparked by a childhood spent exploring the beautiful forests of the Black Hills of South Dakota. In the summers, she walks along the many lakes of Minnesota, and in the cold winters, she enjoys spinning her own yarn from wool on her spinning wheel and creating intricate Ukrainian (Pysanky) eggs. Currently Joan lives in Minnesota with her two very literary cats, Franz (named after Franz Kafka) and Nadeje (Czech word meaning “hope”).

  • Beginning
  • Arrival
  • Brave
  • School
  • Learning
  • Bridge
  • Dance
  • Truth
  • Punishment
  • Running
  • Journey
  • Home
  • Decision
  • Renewal
  • Snow
  • Winter Count
  • Counting Coup
  • Gifts
  • Laughing Deer
  • Christmas
  • Spirit Box
  • Realization
  • Understanding
  • Choice
  • Spring
  • Runs with Courage
  • Epilogue
  • Author's Note
  • About the Author
Author/Illustrator biography