Multimedia coloring book teaches Diné bizaad

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Kid with green crayon

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Five-year-old Harper Bowen colors in “Hózhó: A Diné Coloring Book,” a Diné language tool created by his mother, Vanessa Bowen and his maternal grandmother, Valencia Spencer.

A Diné coloring book created by a Diné woman isn’t just a coloring book – it’s a multimedia resource to learn the Navajo language. And not just that, it’s a sought after resource at a school on the Navajo Nation.

According to the creator of “Hózhó: A Diné Coloring Book,” the book can be purchased as a print version with Diné words and images on the page. However, another version comes with access to an online section where readers – colorers? – can hear the words spoken for pronunciation.

“It’s a coloring book, but we have two other versions,” said Vanessa Bowen, who is perhaps best known for creating the “Make America Native Again” hat that came out during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“We have a plus edition, and then a premium edition, which basically is if you want to hear the pronunciations, you can purchase the access to it,” she said. “Then you can go online and see the words, get the definitions, and then hear the voice recording.”

Bowen’s mother, Valencia Spencer from Steamboat, Arizona, recorded the audio for words like “bilasáana” and “ch’ééhjiyáán” to give an idea what they sound like.

“My mom is a former Navajo language and culture teacher, so she’s being recorded for the pronunciations of the words that I illustrated,” Bowen said.


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Categories: Culture

About Author

Christopher S. Pineo

Reporter Christopher S. Pineo's beats include education, construction, the executive branch, and pop culture. He also administers the Navajo Times Facebook page. In the diverse neighborhoods of Boston, Pineo worked, earned a master’s in journalism, and gained 10 years of newspaper experience. He can be reached at Chrisp@navajotimes.com.