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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

The 2023-2025 Common Book is Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults

By Robin Wall Kimmerer
Adapted by Monique Gray Smith
Illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt

What is a Common Book?

A Common Book is a shared reading experience that can serve as a foundation for writing assignments, research assignments, lectures, panel discussions, theater performances, videos, art displays, essay contests, visiting speakers, and other events.

Ultimately, the purpose of the Common Book is to build community and invite further engagement in our college core values of excellence, integrity, and respect. The Common Book can be used in part or as a complete entity in any variety of classes, and while not required, it's use is highly encouraged throughout its two-year tenure.

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults

Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things—from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen—provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Adapted for new audiences by Monique Gray Smith, this new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation.

See the Library’s Braiding Sweetgrass research guide for project and research ideas based on themes from Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults.

Why is Saint Paul College using the young adult version of the book?

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults is a teaching-friendly version of the original nonfiction book. While remaining firmly rooted in the original text, Monique Gray Smith adds sidebars and reflective questions designed to assist the reader in linking concepts and ideas. Illustrator Nicole Neidhardt adds a gorgeous visual element to material, which helps maintain reader interest and commitment. Additionally, this adaptation was published in 2023, making it ten years more recent than the original publication!

How did the College choose a Common Book?

A common book working group was formed in late 2022, chaired by Instructional Librarian Hannah Kauffmann. After an open nomination period was held in spring 2023, the working group published a list of finalists along with a voting guide, and held an open voting period, with votes coming from students, staff, faculty, and administration. The result was Braiding Sweetgrass.

How can I nominate a Common Book or be part of the 2025-2027 working group?

Email hannah.kauffmann@sashapolan.com!

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