Two Times the Fun with Eskimos!

True Book of Little EskimosThe True Book of Little Eskimos

The First Book of Eskimos


Yikes! I don’t really know where to begin. Here we have two ancient books on Eskimos. Both of these titles are older than me! Little Eskimos bugs me as I didn’t think they were necessarily “small.”  The second book (pictured below) made me cringe when I saw the spine label.  Sometimes there are just no words.  Any of the kids in my library would think I was out of my mind if I gave them either of these books.

Native peoples of Alaska and Canada and other arctic regions are not one homogeneous group. I believe that in Canada, Yupik and Inuit are more appropriate descriptions, and Eskimo is considered a pejorative.  While Alaska has distinct groups, they are generally okay with the name Eskimo. ALB readers from these regions, please correct me!

By the way, neither book has been weeded as of this writing and both are in a children’s collection. (sigh)




Amak is a little Eskimo

First book of Eskimos cover

first book of Eskimose spine

The Laughing People

Toota and her brother



  1. It’s interesting that the second book was able to predict the future: all of the ice around the north pole is melted – open water all the way across!

  2. Well, the title of the first book is appropriate. Look at the size of that polar bear: Those really are some little Eskimos!

  3. I think the people are laughing about the flowers growing in the snow. . . Although it is more likely they are laughing about the spelling of “eskimose”. Someone should be very ashamed!

  4. Yikes! Yeah, these need to be weeded. I kind of like the idea of that map, though. I wonder if any modern children’s books include a map like that.

  5. I remember the first book from my childhood. Would you believe I went on to major in cultural anthropology in college? I look at the book now and say “That’s what I read growing up?????”

  6. The North Pole appears to be a whirlpool in the last image. I can’t speak about every place, but here “eskimo” is still common/nonoffensive. The books should still be replaced with a more current resource though. If it doesn’t have Nunavut in it, discard!

  7. I read the “little” in the first title as meaning that the book focuses on “Eskimo” children. Does it cover the adults in the pages not shown here?

  8. Yeah, everything that lives in snowy, faraway places is cute: Eskimos, polar bears, penguins, whales, etc.

    Even adult books with the word ‘Eskimo’ in them ought to be weeded. The correct term now is (usually) Inuit. ‘Eskimo’ is only acceptable in a historical context.

  9. Yes, ‘Eskimo” apparently isn’t derogatory in Alaska, and since it includes people who aren’t Inuit they’re not real thrilled at being called Inuit. In Canada, however, “Eskimo” is considered derogatory. Oh, nomenclature, so complicated!

  10. Nevermind the fact that the map in “The First Book of Eskimos” is not even close to accurate, and the text bubble covers up the Yukon and Northwest Territories…YIKES!

  11. Interesting that the text in the first book says the children are dressed in bright colors, while the illustration shows them in pretty drab things. (And, no, those were not bright colors in the context of 1953.) Regarding the use of the term Eskimo, Wikipedia has some interesting comments on its origins, in the article at I personally think saying “Esquimaux” is way cooler.

  12. I immediately thought the first book was going to be about ‘little Eskimos’ coming across a murderous polar bear.

  13. I’ve lived in Alaska for 12 years and have never heard anyone use “eskimo” except to make fun of people in the lower 48 who still use the term. Everyone just says “Native” or “Alaska Native” if they’re being more specific. There are 11 different native groups in Alaska with different languages and cultures, so you would never call someone Inuit unless you knew for sure that they actually were Inuit. They could just as easily be Athabascan, Yup’ik, Inupiaq, Alutiiq, Tlinqit, Haida, etc.

  14. Agreeing with Ken to some degree. In Alaska someone is either going to use the specific name of a native group, or use the general Native or Alaska Native. I’m an Alaskan born Tlingit and grew up mostly in Washington state. I’ve never experienced Eskimo being used negatively, but that’s probably due to my proximity to Alaska. I’m sure that changes as you move farther away from the Northwest (or go to Canada).

    Also…seriously – what is up with those flowers in the first book? We can tell they *were* capable of coloring inside the lines…why give up when it’s time to pain the flowers?!

  15. “Eskimose” sounds like a chemical reaction, I would guess it has something to do with hibernation in mammals ;->

    I *love* oldfashioned cultural stories from exotic places. If I had room at home, I would have a much huger collection of these…
    I own a wonderful children’s novel about a sami tribe in Norway (they are even called lapps, yikes!) who have adopted an eskimo (!) boy after he went hunting one day and got lost from his own eskimo tribe(!!)
    For those unaware of the distance and waters involved, imagine someone from Hawaii paddling his canoe a bit too far in the wrong direction, ending up in Calgary.

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