75+ Native American Children’s Books

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Native American Children's Books

 

“I see a time of Seven Generations
when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life
and the whole Earth will become one circle again.”

~ Crazy Horse

 

UPDATED November 2020!

November is Native American Heritage Month! Established in 1990, it is a month of events and celebrations to pay tribute to the rich ancestry, traditions and contributions of Native Americans.

Teach your children about Native American culture with these stunning books for all age groups!


75+ Native American Children’s Books 


Babies & Toddlers


Little You
by Richard Van Camp

Native American Children's Books: Little You

“Little you, little wonder / Little wish, gentle thunder / You are life and breath adored / You are us and so much more.” Little You is a warm and tender celebration of babies and parental love. The gently rhyming poetic text is perfectly complemented by the arty collage-style illustrations. Written by a Native American, this gem won the 2016 American Indian Youth Literature Award for Picture Books. ~ Babies & Toddlers


First Laugh–Welcome, Baby!
by Rose Ann Tahe

Native American Children's Books: First Laugh Welcome Baby!

In Navajo families, the first person to make a new baby laugh hosts the child’s First Laugh Ceremony. So everyone tries to elicit the joyous sound from Baby, from nima (mom) to nadi (big sister) to cheii (grandfather). First Laugh Welcome Baby introduces children to Navajo culture and traditions. Includes back matter about baby welcoming ceremonies from other cultures, from the Chinese man yue to the Hindu sanskaras and the Muslim aquiqa celebration. ~ Babies & Toddlers


Welcome Song for Baby
by Richard Van Camp

Native American Children's Books: Welcome Song for Baby

“Dear One / Cherished One / Loved One / You have made the world beautiful again.” From renowned First Nations storyteller and award-winning author Richard Van Camp comes this lyrical lullaby. Complemented with stunning photographs, Welcome Song for Baby is a perfect first board book for newborns. ~ Babies & Toddlers

Related: 11 Multicultural Lullabies


Loving Me
by Debby Slier

Native American Children's Books: Loving Me

Loving Me features expressive photographs of multi-generational Native American families. From a gentle kiss from mom and a hug from dad, to a playful romp with an older brother and reading with grandpa, babies and toddlers will enjoy looking at the loving family interactions in this warm book about love and diversity. ~ Babies & Toddlers


My Heart Fills with Happiness
by Monique Gray Smith

Native American Children's Books: My Heart Fills With Happiness

“My heart fills with happiness when…I smell bannock baking in the oven.” My Heart Fills With Happiness is a warm and cheerful celebration of the small  moments and simple pleasures in life. This beautifully illustrated board book encourages children everywhere to reflect on what makes them happy. ~ Babies & Toddlers



 


We Sang You Home
by Richard van Camp

Native American Children's Books: We Sang You Home

Published last month, this sweet and lyrical board book is sure to become a family favourite! Written by internationally renowned author Richard Van Camp and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Julie Flett, We Sang You Home celebrates the bond between parent and child in gentle rhyming text. ~ Babies & Toddlers


We All Count A Book of Cree Numbers
by Julie Flett

Native American Children's Books: We All Count

Canadian based Cree/Metis artist Julie Flett wrote and illustrated this gorgeous board book about Cree numbers. We All Count teaches little ones about numbers and their pronunciation and provides insight into contemporary Cree life whilst giving a meaningful message (we all count!). ~ Babies & Toddlers


Zoe and the Fawn
by Catherine Jameson

Native American Children's Books: Zoe and the Fawn

When Zoe finds a lone fawn in the forest, it takes her on an adventure in the search for its mother. Who could the mother be? A bunny? A fish? Zoe and the Fawn is a sweet and beautifully illustrated picture book. Little ones will love following Zoe and her father as they encounter many woodland animals and learn their Native names. ~ Babies & Toddlers


Sweetest Kulu
by Celina Kalluk

Native American Children's Books: Sweetest Kulu

Award-winning Sweetest Kulu is a lyrical bedtime poem written by internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk. Based on the Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants. Baby Kulu receives blessings in the form of gifts from Caribou, Snow Bunting, Narwhal, Land, Sun, and Wind. ~ Babies & Toddlers



 


Preschool


We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrom

Native American Children's Books

“Water is the first medicine. / It affects and connects us all . . .” When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people’s water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource. Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, lyrically written and vibrantly illustrated We Are Water Protectors is an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption. ~ Preschool

Related: 22 Multicultural Children’s Books for Earth Day


Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
by Kevin Noble

Native American Children's Books

“Fry bread is nation.It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond. Fry bread is us. / It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.” Vibrantly illustrated and told in lively verse, Fry Bread is a powerful depiction of a modern Native American family. ~ Preschool


Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock
by Dallas Hunt

Native American Children's Books

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock is a charming story that celebrates Cree dialects and traditional storytelling. During an unfortunate mishap, young Awâsis loses Kôhkum’s freshly baked world-famous bannock. With the help of her animal friends, goes on an adventurous journey to find all the ingredients again. Includes a pronunciation guide and the recipe for Kôhkum’s world-famous bannock. ~ Preschool


In My Anaana’s Amautik
by Nadia Samuurtok

Native American Children's Books

In My Anaana’s Amautik offers the unique perspective of a baby carried in the pouch in the back of a mother’s parka, from the cloudlike softness of the pouch to the glistening sound of Anaana’s laughter. Children and adults alike will love this sweet and soothing picture book!  ~ Preschool


Molly of Denali: An Alaskan Adventures Reading Collection 
by WGBH

Native American Children's Books

Whilst not strictly #OwnVoices, the Molly of Denali series is based on the popular TV show which has indigenous people’s input on all production levels. Follow spunky little Molly on her adventures in the Alaskan wilderness with this portable 5-book set, from finding a lost dog to going blueberry picking. ~ Preschool

Related: 40+ Multicultural Book Series for Girls & Boys


The First Strawberries
by Joseph Bruchac

Native American Children's Books

Long ago, the first man and woman quarrelled. The woman left in anger, but the Sun sent tempting berries to Earth to slow the wife’s retreat. With simple, lyrical text and expressive illustrations, The First Strawberries is a captivating re-telling of a Cherokee legend that explains how strawberries came to be, written by award-winning Native American storyteller Joseph Bruchac. ~ Preschool



 


At the Mountain’s Base
by Traci Sorrel

Native American Children's Books

Under an old hickory tree at the mountain’s base a family lives in a cabin — loving, weaving, cooking, and singing. Their songs sustains them as they wait for their loved one, a pilot, to return from war. At The Mountain’s Base is a lyrical picture book celebrating the bonds of a Cherokee family and the bravery of history-making women pilots. Includes an author’s note that pays homage to Native American U.S. service members like WWII pilot Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat. ~ Preschool


You Hold Me Up
by Monique Gray Smith

Native American Children's Books

Consultant, international speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote You Hold Me Up to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families. This vibrant picture book encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other’s well-being in their everyday actions. ~ Preschool

Related: 25 Multicultural Children’s Books teaching Kindness & Empathy


Encounter
by Brittany Luby

Native American Children's Books

Based on the real journal kept by French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534, beautifully illustrated Encounter imagines a first meeting between a French sailor and a Stadaconan fisher. As they navigate their differences, the wise animals around them note their similarities, illuminating common ground. ~ Preschool


Johnny’s Pheasant
by Cheryl Minnema

Native American Children's Books

“Pull over, Grandma! Hurry!” Johnny says. Grandma does, and Johnny runs to show her what he spotted near the ditch: a sleeping pheasant. What Grandma sees is a small feathery hump. When Johnny wants to take it home, Grandma tries to tell him that the pheasant might have been hit by a car. But maybe she could use the feathers for her craftwork? It’s hard to say who is most surprised by what happens next—Grandma, Johnny, or the pheasant. Johnny’s Pheasant is a touching and funny story about patience, kindness and respect for nature. ~ Preschool


When We Are Kind / Nihá’ádaahwiinít’íigo (English and Navaho Edition)
by Monique Gray Smith

Native American Children's Books

Bilingual When We Are Kind celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives. Through carefully chosen words and engaging illustrations, this picture book communicates an important message: Be kind to others and yourself. ~ Preschool

Related: 25 Multicultural Children’s Books teaching Kindness & Empathy

 

When We Were Alone
by David Robertson

Native American Children's Books: When We Were Alone

Due to be released in March 2017, When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, about empowerment and strength. A young girl is curious about her grandmother’s long braided hair, coloured clothing and different language. Her grandmother tells her about life in a residential school, where all of these things were taken away from her. ~ Preschool



 


Mama, Do You Love Me?
by Barbara M Joossen

Native American Children's Books: Mama., Do You Love Me?

Mama, Do You Love Me? is a stunningly illustrated picture book with a warm and tender story line. The universal and timeless story of a child testing the limits of her independence and a mother who reassuringly proves that a parent’s love is unconditional and everlasting is a perfect book for little ones. ~ Preschool

For a more in-depth review, go to Multicultural Book of the Month: Mama, Do You Love Me?


Thunder Boy Jr.
by Sherman Alexie

Native American Children's Books: Thunder Boy Jr.

Thunder Boy Jr. dreams of having his own unique name rather than being named after his dad. He’d love a name that says something cool about him, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder. Together with his dad he eventually picks the perfect name. With lyrical text and enchanting illustrations, Thunder Boy Jr celebrates the warm relationship between a Native American father and his son. ~ Preschool

Related: 40 Multicultural Children’s Books about Fathers


Hungry Johnny
by Cheryl Kay Minnema

Native American Children's Books: Hungry Johnny

Johnny likes to “eat, eat, eat!” But he has to wait patiently before it is his turn. First, there is the long drive to the community center, then an even longer Ojibwe prayer, and then he still has to wait some more as the elders eat first. Hungry Johnny is a warm story about a young boy who – with the help of his loving grandmother – learns about gratitude, patience, and respect. ~ Preschool


Powwow’s Coming
by Linda Boyden

Native American Children's Books: Powwow's Coming

“Powwow’s coming, hear the beat? / Powwow’s coming, dancing feet. / Powwow’s coming, hear the drum? /Powwow’s coming, everyone!” With engaging poem and colourful cut-paper collages, Powwow’s Coming offers a thoughtful look at the meaning of powwow’s in a contemporary Native American community. ~ Preschool


When the Shadbush Blooms
by Carla Messinger

Native American Children's Books: When The Shadbush Blooms

Traditional Sister and Contemporary Sister, each from her own time, tell the reader of life as a Lenape Indian girl. Some things have changed but many have stayed the same: fishing for shad, picking ripe berries, being with family and listening to stories. With expressive illustrations and simple text, When The Shadbush Blooms is a warm book about traditions and change. ~ Preschool


SkySisters
by Jan Bourdeau Waboose

Native American Children's Books: SkySisters

Two Ojibway sisters set off across the frozen north country to see the SkySpirits’ midnight dance. Following their grandmother’s advice (“wisdom comes on silent wings”), they silently experience their surroundings and patiently wait for the arrival of the SkySpirits. With stunning oil-on-canvas paintings, SkySisters is an atmospheric story that captures the chill of a northern night, the warmth of family bonds and the radiance of a child’s wonder. ~ Preschool


Wild Berries
by Julie Flett

Native American Children's Books: Wild Berries

A little Cree girl and her grandmother set out to pick wild berries (“pikaci-m­­inísa”). On their way through the woodlands they meet ant, spider, and fox, and after they have filled their bucket, they leave some berries for the birds. Beautifully illustrated and sprinkled with Cree words, Wild Berries is a quiet celebration of family and nature. ~ Preschool



 


Elementary School


Kunu’s Basket: A Story from Indian Island
by Lee DeCora Francis

Native American Children's Books: Kunu's Basket

Kunu wants to make a pack basket, like all the men on Indian Island. But it is difficult and he gets frustrated. Just when he is about to give up, his grandfather intervenes. Kunu’s Basket is a CCBC Choice of 2013 book about family bonds and traditions, as well as about being patient and gentle with yourself. Includes an author’s note about the basket making tradition of the Penobscot Nation culture. ~ Elementary School


Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light
by Tim Tingle

Native American Children's Books: Saltypie

Saltypie tells the author’s family story from their life in Oklahoma Choctaw country to their move to Texas. Spanning 50 years, this heartfelt picture book describes the family’s hardships, from the grandmother’s orphan days at a boarding school to the hostility his grandparents encountered in their new home in Pasadena. ~ Elementary School


Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way
by S. D. Nelson

Native American Children's Books: Greet The Dawn

Animals and humans alike greet the dawn by gazing at the sun and marvelling at the colours, sounds, and smells. In the Lakota culture dawn is a time to celebrate with a smiling heart, to start a new day in the right way, excited for what might come. With bright artwork, Greet The Dawn: The Lakota Way teaches young readers to seize the new opportunities each new day offers. ~ Elementary School


Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story
by Sebastian Robertson

Native American Children's Books: Rock & Roll Highway

Canadian guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson has been named one of Rolling Stone’s top 100 guitarists of all time. Growing up as the child of a Mohawk Indian mother and a Jewish professional gambler, Robbie developed an interest in music, fueled by reservation storytelling. In Rock and Roll Highway his son, Sebastian, tells the story of his father’s legendary journey through music, from his childhood to his rise to fame as the founder of The Band. A truly inspirational story of a young person’s passion and determination to follow his dream! ~ Elementary School


Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story
by S. D. Nelson

Native American Children's Books: Buffalo Bird Girl

This award-winning picture book biography tells the childhood story of Buffalo Bird Woman – a Hidatsa Indian born around 1839. With beautiful original artwork and archival photographs, Buffalo Bird Girl is a moving account of the lost way of life of a Native American community on the shores of the Missouri River. ~ Elementary School


The Star People: A Lakota Story
by S.D.Nelson

Native American Children's Books: The Star People

Another stunning picture book by award-winning author S. D. Nelson (who is also a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in the Dakotas)! Based on a Lakota legend, The Star People tells the story of Sister Girl and her brother Young Wolf who get lost in the prairie. With guidance from the stars, the siblings must find their way home. Nelson’s expressive traditional artwork brings the heartwarming story to life. ~ Elementary School



 


The Apple Tree 
by Sandy Tharp-Thee

Native American Children's Books: The Apple Tree

A Cherokee boy plants an apple seed, already seeing the apple tree it is meant to be. But the little tree is not so sure. Young and impatient, it begins to doubt its calling after apples fail to appear that first fall. How can the boy convince the tree to give the seasons the time to work their magic? The Apple Tree is a sweet book with a reassuring message, told in English and Cherokee. Includes a Cherokee syllabary. ~ Elementary School


The Blue Roses
by Linda Boyden

Native American Children's Books: The Blue Roses

Every spring Rosalie and her grandfather plant new seeds that blossom into bright roses. Rosalie asks for a blue rose bush, to represent the sky, but Papa tells her that roses do not come in blue. When he dies the following winter, Rosalie’s blue rose bush comes to her in her dreams. With gentle text and magical images, award-winning The Blue Roses is a story of love, transcendence and the natural cycle of life. ~ Elementary School


Shi-shi-etko // Shin-chi’s Canoe
by Nicola I. Campbell

Native American Children's Books: Shi-shi-etko Native American Children's Books: Shin-Chi's Canoe

Shi-shi-etko spends her last days before being sent to residential school treasuring the beauty of her world: The dancing sunlight, the tall grass, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather’s paddle song. She gathers memories for safekeeping, and her family shares valuable teachings that they want her to remember. With richly hued illustrations, Shi-shi-etko is a moving story based on the Canadian history of the government sending Native children away to residential schools. At the new school, Shi-shi-etko reminds her younger brother, Shinchi, that they can only use their English names and that they can’t speak to each other. For Shin-chi, life becomes an endless cycle of church mass, school, and work. He finds solace at the river, playing with his tiny cedar canoe, a gift from his father, and dreaming of returning home. Shin-chi’s Canoe is a heartfelt story about a devastating chapter in First Nations history. ~ Elementary School


When I Was Eight
by Christy Jordan-Fenton

Native American Children's Books: When I was Eight

Strong-willed Olemaun wants to learn to read and persuades her father to let her go to residential school, despite his concerns. At the Catholic-run school, the Inuit girl is stripped of her Native identity, humiliated and treated harshly. Olemaun remains undaunted and draws the attention of one nun who tries to break her spirit. When I was Eight is a stunning picture book adaptation of the bestselling memoir Fatty Legs, a story about a remarkable girl and the power of the human spirit. ~ Elementary School


Dragonfly Kites
by Tomson Highway

Native American Children's Books: Dragonfly Kites
Released earlier this year, Dragonfly Kites is the third book in the magical ‘Songs of the North Wind’ trilogy. Joe and Cody, two young Cree brothers, are spending the summer exploring their world by one of the hundreds of lakes in northern Manitoba. Their favourite activity is flying dragonfly kites. In their dreams, the brothers soar through the skies with their kites. Written in English and Cree, this simple story about the power of imagination is brought alive by Julie Flett’s signature clear and colourful illustrations. ~ Elementary School

More from the ‘Songs of the North Wind’ trilogy: Fox on the IceCaribou Song


Birdsong
by Julie Flett

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019

When a young Cree girl moves from the country to a small town, she feels lonely and out of place. But soon she meets an elderly woman next door, who shares her love of arts and crafts. Can the girl navigate the changing seasons and failing health of her new friend? Acclaimed Birdsong is a beautifully illustrated, tender story that celebrates art, nature and connecting across generations. ~ Elementary School



 


We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
by Traci Sorell

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2018: We Are Grateful

“Cherokee people say otsaliheliga to express gratitude. It is a reminder to celebrate our blessings and reflect on struggles — daily, throughout the year, and across the seasons.” Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, We Are Grateful is a beautiful celebration of gratitude and community. ~ Elementary School


Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller 
by Doreen Rappaport

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019: Wilma's Way Home

In 1956, the government moved Wilma’s family to California. Separated from her community, Wilma found refuge in the Indian Center in San Francisco where she developed the local Native community. When she returned to Oklahoma, Wilma took part in Cherokee government. Despite many obstacles, from resistance to female leadership to a life-threatening accident, Wilma’s dedication to serving her people led to her election as the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. Interweaving prose with Wilma’s own words, Wilma’s Way Home is a moving account of this inspiring leader. ~ Elementary School


Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
by Wab Kinew

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2018: Go Show The World

“We are people who matter, yes, it’s true; now let’s show the world what people who matter can do.” In the form of a powerful rap song, Wab Kinew pays tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, from Crazy Horse, Tecumseh, Sacagawea and Net-no-kwa, to former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price. Go Show The World is an expressively illustrated collection with an empowering message. ~ Elementary School


The Girl and the Wolf
by Katherena Vermette

Native American Children's Books

While picking berries with her mother, a little girl wanders too far into the woods. When she realizes she is lost, she begins to panic. A large grey wolf makes a sudden appearance between some distant trees. Using his sense of smell, he determines where she came from and decides to help her. Through a series of questions from the wolf, the little girl realizes she had the knowledge and skill to navigate herself—she just needed to remember that those abilities were there all along. The Girl and the Wolf is a gorgeous book about believing in yourself and solving problems. ~ Elementary School

Related: 20 Multicultural Children’s Books To Help Build Self-Esteem


A Day with Yayah
by Nicola I. Campbell

Native American Children's Books

Set in the Nicola Valley, British Columbia, in Canada’s westernmost province, a First Nations family goes on a spring outing to forage for herbs and mushrooms. A grandmother passes down her knowledge of plant life and the natural world to her young grandchildren. With calm illustrations, A Day With Yaya balances botanical information with a wonderful story about the relationship between grandchildren and grandmother. ~ Elementary School

Related: 40+ Multicultural Children’s Books about Grandparents



 


The Dancers
by Thomas Peacock

The Dancers is a heart-warming story about a young Native girl, her mother, and a very special auntie. A beautifully illustrated story of wisdom and triumph, of being strong, and of dancing with your heart. ~ Elementary School


Nibi Emosaawdang / The Water Walker (English and Ojibwa Edition)
by Joanne Robertson

Bilingual The Water Walker tells the story of determined Ojibwe Nokomis (grandmother) Josephine Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of the need to protect water for future generations and for all life on the planet. She, along with other women, men and youth, have walked the perimeter of the Great Lakes and along the banks of numerous rivers and lakes. The walks are full of challenges, and by her example Josephine invites young readers to take up their responsibility to protect our water, the giver of life. ~ Elementary School


Tani’s Search for the Heart
by Keith & Chenoa Egawa

Tani, a Coast Salish girl, follows her late grandmother’s parting advice to journey into the forest to search for “the heart of all things.” She embarks on a quest through the wilds of the Pacific Northwest and finds herself in a world of legend, tradition and self-discovery. Struggling with self-doubt, Tani is helped through the challenging terrain by wise animals and the magical Stick Indian. With each new encounter, Tani finds the answers she has always carried within. Tani’s Search For The Heart is a beautiful story about our connection with our ancestors and the natural world that fosters respect for the people, lands and waters that sustain us all. ~ Elementary School


Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army
by Art Coulson

In 1912, the Carlisle Indian School football team played against the bigger, stronger, and better-equipped U.S. Military team. Sportswriters billed the game as a sort of rematch, pitting against each other the descendants of U.S. soldiers and American Indians who fought on the battlefield only 20 years earlier. But lightning-fast Jim Thorpe and the other Carlisle players were out to prove just one thing — that it was the best football team in the country. With vivid illustrations, Unstoppable tells the fascinating story of Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Squad. ~ Elementary School


The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales
by James & Joseph Bruchac

Part of the Folktales of the World series, The Girl Who Helped Thunder is an engaging and inspirational collection of Native American legends across the U.S., from creation myths to animal fables to stirring accounts of bravery and sacrifice. Stunningly illustrated with original art, the stories capture a wide range of belief systems and wisdom from the Cherokee, Cheyenne, Hopi, Lenape, Maidu, Seminole, Seneca, and other tribes. ~ Elementary School


Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock
by A.& K. Tudor & J. Eaglespeaker

At age 8, Aslan arrived in North Dakota to help stop a pipeline. A few months later he returned – and saw the whole world watching. With simple text and accompanying photographs and maps, Young Water Protectors, is Aslan’s inspiring account of what happened at Standing Rock and why. ~ Elementary School


The Whale Child
by Keith & Chenoa Egawa

Native American Children's Books

Shiny is a whale child. One day his mother teaches him about the harm facing the world’s oceans because of human carelessness. Shiny agrees to be turned into a boy by the ocean’s water spirit so he can alert people to these dangers. He meets Alex, a young Coast Salish girl, and together the two travel the earth, confronting the realities of a planet threatened by an uncertain future. The Whale Child is an inspiring chapter book that teaches young readers that we must all stand up on behalf of Mother Earth. ~ Elementary School, Middle School



 


Middle School


Fatty Legs
by Christy Jordan-Fenton

Native American Children's Books: Fatty Legs

Eight-year-old Olemaun Pokiak is determined to learn to read and persuades her father to let her attend a residential school, despite his concerns. At school Raven, a black-cloaked nun immediately dislikes the strong-willed Inuit girl and tries to break her spirit. But in the end, it is the brave Olemaun who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity. Fatty Legs is an inspiring account of one girl’s determination and strength, complemented by expressive illustrations and archival photos.  ~ Middle School


Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom
by Tim Tingle

Native American Children's Books: Crossing Bok Chitto

While searching for blackberries, young Choctaw Martha breaks her village’s rules against crossing the Bok Chitto to the plantation on the other side. She befriends the slaves, and later helps a family escape across the river to freedom. Crossing Bok Chitto is a moving story of friendship across cultures in 1800s Mississippi, beautifully complemented by dramatic paintings. ~ Middle School


Hiawatha and the Peacemaker
by Robbie Robertson

Native American Children's Books: Hiawatha and the Peacemaker

Hiawatha is a brave Mohawk warrior who has lost his family in battle and wants revenge. But then one day the Peacemaker appears. He wants to unite the warring tribes and chooses Hiawatha to help him communicate his message of peace. Musical icon Robbie Robertson shares the powerful and inspiring story of Hiawatha and the Peacemaker in an accessible way for children. Includes CD featuring a new, original song by Robbie Robertson. ~ Middle School

Related: 33 Multicultural Children’s Books about Peace


In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
by Joseph Marshall

Native American Children's Books: In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

Jimmy McClean’ father is part white and part Lakota, and his mother is Lakota. Over summer break Jimmy embarks on a journey with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle. While on the road, his grandfather tells him the story of Crazy Horse, one of the most important figures in Lakota and American history. Expertly intertwining fiction and non-fiction, award-winning In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse is a moving chapter book about heritage and identity. ~ Middle School


The People Shall Continue
by Simon J. Ortiz

Native American Children's Books

The People Shall Continue tells the powerful story of the Indigenous peoples of North America, from Creation to the invasion and usurpation of Native lands. The People witnessed the destruction of their Nations and the enslavement of their people. The People fought hard, but eventually agreed to stop fighting and signed treaties. But The People held onto their beliefs and customs and found solidarity with other oppressed people. And despite struggles against greed, destruction of their lands, and oppression, The People persisted. ~ Middle School


Mary and the Trail of Tears: A Cherokee Removal Survival Story
by Andrea L. Rogers

Native American Children's Books

Twelve-year-old Mary and her Cherokee family are forced out of their home in Georgia by U.S. soldiers in May 1838. From the beginning of the forced move, they are separated from her father. Despite facing internment, violence, disease, and harsh weather, Mary helps keep her family and friends together until they can reach the new Cherokee nation in Indian Territory. Featuring nonfiction support material, a glossary, and reader response questions, Mary And The Trail Of Tears explores the tragedy of forced removals following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. ~ Middle School


I Can Make This Promise
by Christine Day

Native American Children's Books

All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers. Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her. Inspired by the author’s family’s history, I Can Make This Promise tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family’s secrets—and finds her own Native American identity. ~ Middle School

Related: 28 Multicultural Children’s Books about Adoption



 


They Dance in the Sky: Native American Star Myths
by Ray A. Williamson

Native American Children's Books

For countless generations, Native American storytellers have watched the night sky and told tales of the stars and the constellations. The stars themselves tell many tales—of children who have danced away from home, of six brothers who rescue a maiden from the fearful Rolling Skull, of the great wounded sky bear, whose blood turns the autumn leaves red, and many more. They Dance In The Sky is a stunning introduction to Native American Star Myths. ~ Middle School


Indian No More
by Ch. Willing & T. Sorell McManis

Native American Children's Books

Living on the Grand Ronde reservation is all ten-year-old Umpqua girl Regina has ever known. But when the federal government signs a bill into law that says their tribe no longer exists, her family has to relocate to Los Angeles where Regina finds a whole different world. She has never met kids of other races, and they’ve never met a real Indian. For the first time in her life, Regina comes face to face with the viciousness of racism, personally and toward her new friends. Acclaimed Indian No More is a moving middle-grade novel about change, identity and discrimination. ~ Middle School


Race to the Sun
by Rebecca Roanhorse

Native American Children's Books

When her Dad disappears, Nizhoni, her brother and her best friend set out on a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters. The kids must pass a series of trials in which it seems like nature itself is out to kill them. Race To The Sun is a funny and fast-paced adventure novel about the importance of family and respect for the land. ~ Middle School

What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal
by E. Yellowhorn & K. Lowinger

Native American Children's Books

Indigenous people have been faced with disease, war, broken promises, and forced assimilation. Despite crushing losses and insurmountable challenges, they formed new nations from the remnants of old ones, they adopted new ideas and built on them, they fought back, and they kept their cultures alive. What The Eagle Sees shares accounts of the people, places, and events that have mattered in Indigenous history. ~ Middle School


Gaawin Gindaaswin Ndaawsii / I Am Not a Number (English and Ojibwa Edition)
by Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis & Katy Kacer

When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to a residential school, she is confused, frightened and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns in charge at the school, who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene’s parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of Dupuis’s grandmother, I Am Not a Number brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in an accessible way. ~ Middle School


How I Became A Ghost — A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story // When a Ghost Talks, Listen 
by Tim Tingle

In How I became A Ghost, 10-year-old Choctaw boy Isaac tells the story of his tribe’s removal from its Mississippi homeland, and how its exodus to the American West led him to become a ghost –one able to help those left behind. In When A Ghost Talks, Listen, he continues with his people as they walk the Choctaw Trail of Tears headed to Indian Territory in what will one day become Oklahoma. There have been many surprises on their trek, but now Isaac and his three Choctaw comrades learn they can time travel–making for an unexpected adventure. ~ Middle School


Stone River Crossing
by Tim Tingle

The Bok Chitto river is the only border between Martha’s town in the Choctaw Nation and the slave-owning plantation in Mississippi territory. She knows crossing the river to pick blackberries is dangerous as the slave owners could catch her, too. When she meets an enslaved boy called Lil Mo who tells her that his mother is about to be sold, Martha suggest his family crosses the river to become free. Stone River Crossing, an expansion of award-winning Crossing Bok Chitto, teaches  young readers that the strongest bridge between cultures is friendship. ~ Middle School



 


High School


Apple in the Middle
by Dawn Quigley

Apple’s name, chosen by her Native American mother on her deathbed, means ‘treasured apple of my eye’ but is also a negative term for a person who is “red” on the outside, but “white” on the inside. After her wealthy father gives her the boot one summer, Apple reluctantly visits her Native American relatives in North Dakota for the first time. While dealing with the culture shock and her mom’s vengeful high school love, Apple tries to find a connection to her dead mother. Acclaimed Apple In The Middle is a funny and heartwarming story about family, identity and belonging. ~ High School


Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices
by L. Charleyboy & M.B. Leatherdale

Whether discussing the transformative power of art or music, the lasting trauma of residential schools, growing up poor, or achieving success, the contributors to this remarkable anthology all have something in common: a rich Native heritage that has informed who they are. Dreaming In Indian is a unique collection of contemporary Native American voices, gorgeously illustrated with vibrant art. ~ High School


#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women
by L. Charleyboy & M.B. Leatherdale

In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible. ~ High School


The Marrow Thieves
by Cherie Dimaline

Humanity has nearly destroyed the world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. What they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves. The Marrow Thieves is a powerful dystopian novel that teenagers will love! ~ High School


If I Ever Get Out of Here
by Eric Gansworth

Living on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975, Lewis “Shoe” Blake is not used to white people being nice to him — like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. If I Ever Get Out Of Here is a heartfelt story about navigating an unlikely friendship, bullying and standing up for yourself. ~ High School


Hearts Unbroken
by Cynthia Leitich Smith

When Lou’s first boyfriend disrespects Native people in front of her, she dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. Together with ambitious new photojournalist Joey Kairouz she must cover a major story: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class school. As tensions mount, so does a romance between Lou and Joey but in trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s? Award-winning Hearts Unbroken is a thoughtful story about discrimination, inclusivity and first love. ~ High School


Murder on the Red River // Girl Gone Missing (A Cash Blackbear Mystery)
by Marcie R. Rendon

 

19-year-old Ojibwe woman Cash and Sheriff Wheaton make for a strange partnership. He pulled her from her mother’s wrecked car when she was three and kept an eye out for her ever since. Cash navigated through foster homes, and at thirteen was working farms. She’s tiny but tough as nails, and makes her living driving truck. Wheaton is a big lawman type who signs her up for Junior College. In Murder On The Red River Cash and Wheaton are hunting the murderer of an Indian found lying in the field, in Girl Gone Missing they are trying to find a missing fellow student of Cash’s. ~ High School


 *You can buy any of the books on this site from Amazon USA by clicking on the book titles or images*



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17 Responses

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  2. Corinne R. Dunn
    | Reply

    Your book listings are great! Do I need to request copyright permission to include them in materials I am designing for the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church? If so, please let me know how I can go about doing that at your earliest convenience.

    Thank you!

    • Colours of Us
      |

      Hi, good to hear you are enjoying our lists. If you would like to reference our lists, either online or in print, you can do so by providing the link to the list. You cannot just copy the whole list.

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  4. Readersmagnet
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    Fantastic share, great list! I will include this in my TRB.

  5. Alayne Griffin
    | Reply

    Great list! Native Voices Books has 22 novels in our PathFinders collection for teen readers. Written by Native/First Nation/Indigenous authors, these titles deal with contemporary issues and how they overcome obstacles using the timeless teachings of their culture. We also have newly expanded illustrated children books. “The First Fire” by Brad Wagnon (Cherokee) has already sold out the first printing! Second and third printing are on their way.
    In 2021, we are re-releasing Brad’s bi-lingual Cherokee children’s book, “Land of the Great Turtles” and “How the World Was Made.”
    Also in 2021, we are adding two more to our Native Trailblazers series, these seven titles are biographies of contemporary Native & Indigenous people who have the perseverance to achieve their goals. Changemakers and icons in music, writers, elders, athletes, women and men of courage who inspire their tribes and people the world over.
    Let me know if you are interested in our award-winning titles.
    ~Alayne

  6. Suzie Olsen
    | Reply

    Thank you for the list!

  7. Tyrese Gould Jacinto
    | Reply

    I would like to introduce a new book: Tale of the Turkeys’ Detailed Tail
    Come along on this fun story written by a member of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indian Tribe that tells about a journey of a famous turkey and how he introduced many tribes to each other. This is a great story that tells a tale about Native American Indians before the Europeans came to America. Native American stories are always told to the children, not only keep history, but it allows them to use their great imagination about subjects that have deep hidden meanings of the way things really are. This story is great for all ages! The main character of this story is Chikënëm. This is the Lenape word for Turkey. You can also say “chicken” for a shorter version. I would like to think that this is why we call the modern-day bird that we eat a chicken!

  8. Allison
    | Reply

    I would add to this list:
    Antelope Woman: An Apache Folktale by Michael Lacapa

    The Hogan that Great-Grandfather Built by Nancy Flood, illustrations by Peterson Yazzie.

    • Colours of Us
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      Thank you! We always appreciate book suggestions.

  9. Melani Moore
    | Reply

    I have been reading book reviews of books about Native Americans reviewed by Native Americans. They are compiled in a book called The Broken Flute. We need to be mindful that not all books about Native Americans are respectfully written. I saw some on this list that were negatively reviewed by those they are supposed to be representing.

    • Colours of Us
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      Thank you so much for your input. Which ones on this list are those? I’m happy to remove them.

  10. Marjorie (MWD)
    | Reply

    What a wonderful list – some favourites and some new to be sought out – thank you for sharing with #diversekidlit

  11. Violet Duncan
    | Reply

    This a wonderful list!! Thank you for compiling them ❤️ I am Cree Woman (First Nations) with 2 children’s books available. How could I be added to your amazing list? Would love the opportunity! Thank you!

    • Colours of Us
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      Hi Violet, you can send me pdf copies of your books via info(at)coloursofus(dot)com. If they are a good fit, I will add them to this list.

  12. Erin
    | Reply

    Just wanted to let you know I’ve been reading your blog for a while and so appreciate all the new books you introduce me to and as a fellow book blogger I know just how much work goes into book posts! Thank you

    • Colours of Us
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      Thank you for the nice feedback! Yes, putting together book lists is time consuming but I love it. It’s always exciting to find amazing new multicultural children’s books!

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