97 pages 3 hours read

Joseph Bruchac

Code Talker

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2005

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Code Talker

  • Genre: Fiction; young adult historical
  • Originally Published: 2005
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 910L; grades 6-10
  • Structure/Length: 29 chapters; approximately 231 pages; approximately 7 hours, 30 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist/Central Conflict: The novel follows Ned Begay, a Navajo boy who leaves his reservation to attend a government-run boarding school. Later, he joins the Marines during World War II and becomes a code talker, using his native language to create an unbreakable secret code. The central conflict explores Ned’s struggle with discrimination, his effort to maintain his cultural identity, and the tensions of war.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Discrimination; war violence; cultural erasure; trauma

Joseph Bruchac, Author

  • Bio: Born 1942; American author with a concentration on northeastern Indigenous and Anglo-American lives, mythology, and folklore; of Abenaki ancestry; earned a BA from Cornell University, an MA in Literature and Creative Writing from Syracuse, and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the Union Institute of Ohio
  • Other Works: Dawn Land (1993); Skeleton Man (2001); The Warriors (2003); Sacajawea (2008)
  • Awards: American Book Award (1983); Virginia Hamilton Literary Award (1998); Oklahoma Book Award (finalist; 2006)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit:

  • Exile, Alienation, and Navajo Culture
  • The Navajos as Underdogs
  • Empathy During Wartime

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will: