I is for Indian

I is for Indian

My “i” Sound Box

Submitter: We all need to learn the short “i” sound sooner or later, but there are many better and more culturally sensitive titles that can be used to support this phonics goal.  While well-used, this book from 1984 is now bordering on racist, with stylized representations of a Native American girl and all of her great “Indian” stuff.  PC issues aside, the only short-i words besides “Indian” are iguana, inchworm, and igloo (a magical igloo at that – it somehow stays frozen on a lawn in apparently warm weather, and is light enough to be picked up by a young girl).  Hmmmm.  Best part is when the little girl – looking like she just stepped out of a Nazi propaganda poster – exclaims, “Now I will dress like an Indian!” (The best part could also be the double entendre with the word box … but I’ll leave that for you to decide.)

Holly: Makes me want to look back through all the books in this giant series. They’re classic, but it might be time to let them go.



Indian drum

Dress like an Indian



  1. My daughter loved this series as a toddler/young preschooler. We were gifted some of the series, and I tracked down the others. This is probably the worst of the bunch. There is a slightly newer edition of these books that was edited to update vocabulary (firefighter instead of fireman, for example, although I haven’t seen the “I” book, so I suspect it’s still terribly un-PC.

    1. Oh, wait, looking at the title again, I realize this is one of the newer versions. The older version, which we have, is just called My I Book. But there is an edition after this that has a different binding.

  2. Is there a reason the Indian couldn’t have found stuff to put in the box that actually started with the short I sound?

    1. I had the same reaction…then I tried to think of some. All I came up with was, if they’re going to count modifiers for the target sound, they could use Independence Day stuff. And a map of India would work, and be less racist than what they have now. There aren’t a lot of nouns that start with the short i sound.

  3. This book looks really boring, even for kids. Couldn’t they have made just one book to cover the letter “i” and all its sounds? Maybe then they wouldn’t have to rely on stereotypical, overly simplistic representations of “Indian” items and clothing to fill the darn box.

  4. Excuse me, but this book was published in 1984, NOT 1944 or ’54. Surely, by the ’80s people would have been aware of racial stereotypes directed towards First Nations people?

      1. Yeah but not when talking pc then they are Native Americans which is definitely better than Indian.

  5. I am really upset by the way that igloo melted. The Native American female doesn’t seem to mind in the slightest, however. In fact she is pleased because those Native Americans from south of the treeline have always hated and feared the brave Inuit folk of the north… Subliminal cultural subtext within subliminal cultural subtext here, everyone!

  6. I think I had this whole series as a kid! I vaguely remember the little girl dressed up in the “indian” outfit…PC or not, I LOVED this series and would pick one letter-themed book out during our nightly bedtime reading. This would have been in the late ’80s when I was around 2-4 years old, so it was probably this version.

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