This is a moving text about the Canadian policy of taking First Nations, Metis and Inuit children from their homes to live in "residential" schools to be "saved" from their tribes' cultures.
It is the tale of Jenny Kay Dupuis' grandmother and how she and her brothers were taken from her parents by an Indian agent in 1928 and brought to live in one such school. She was assigned a number -- 759 -- and told to "wash the brown" off her skin.
Her hair is cut short and she's forced to wear a school uniform and eat food that makes her gag. Her hands were burnt by a Sister after she dared to speak her language, Ojibway, in front of the other girls. In many cases, children were put to work and living conditions were substandard.
Finally she gets to go home, and she and her parents come up with a plan to hide in her father's taxidermy workshop when the Indian agents comes the next Fall. While he threatens the family, her father sticks up for her and her brother and swears he'll never allow them to take his children again.
Although this is a 32-page picture book, I'm recommending this for 7th/8th grade Social Studies teachers. Here's my pitch for using picture books with upper grades: a picture book has the power to teach content standards in a brief but highly visual presentation. It's able to quickly reach all level readers in class.
And similar policies and practices were in place in the United States, as well. A short, personalized non-fiction account like I Am Not a Number makes an excellent hook to a lesson about residential schools and policies.
Lest you worry your students are too old to read picture books, let me reassure you: my 8th grade students absolutely loved using picture books to build background knowledge about various content issues, such as the Civil Rights era.
The publisher, Second Story Press, unfortunately does not offer a teaching guide for this text, but there are a number of low-cost teaching materials and units offered on my favorite pay-for-teaching resources site, Teachers Pay Teachers.