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Native American Books & Resources: Kids
Fiction & nonfiction print and web sources for adults, kids, teens, & educators that reflect accurate, authentic and contemporary representations of Native Americans.
Birdsong by Julie Flett (Illustrator)An American Indian Youth Literature Honor Title A Best Book of the Year in Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Horn Book A 2020 Boston Globe--Horn Book Award Honor Title "Cree-Métis author/illustrator Julie Flett's smooth and lyrical words and gorgeous... images truly capture the warmth and solidarity of the female protagonists in this tender intergenerational friendship story." --The Horn Book When a young 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 author and artist Julie Flett's textured images of birds, flowers, art, and landscapes bring vibrancy and warmth to this powerful story, which highlights the fulfillment of intergenerational relationships and shared passions. An activity guide is available at greystonebooks.com for FREE download. A brief glossary and pronunciation guide to Cree words that appear in the text is provided on the copyright page. "Cycling from spring to spring, [Julie Flett's] subtle, sensitive story delicately traces filaments of growth and loss through intergenerational friendship, art making, and changing moons and seasons." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Publication Date: 2019-10-08
Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child; Jonathan Thunder (Illustrator); Gordon Jourdain (Translator)Windy Girl is blessed with a vivid imagination. From Uncle she gathers stories of long-ago traditions, about dances and sharing and gratitude. Windy can tell such stories herself-about her dog, Itchy Boy, and the way he dances to request a treat and how he wriggles with joy in response to, well, just about everything. When Uncle and Windy Girl and Itchy Boy attend a powwow, Windy watches the dancers in their jingle dresses and listens to the singers. She eats tasty food and joins family and friends around the campfire. Later, Windy falls asleep under the stars. Now Uncle's stories inspire other visions in her head: a bowwow powwow, where all the dancers are dogs. In these magical scenes, Windy sees veterans in a Grand Entry, and a visiting drum group, and traditional dancers, grass dancers, and jingle-dress dancers-all with telltale ears and paws and tails. All celebrating in song and dance. All attesting to the wonder of the powwow. This playful story by Brenda Child is accompanied by a companion retelling in Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain and brought to life by Jonathan Thunder's vibrant dreamscapes. The result is a powwow tale for the ages.
Publication Date: 2018-05-01
Kiss by Kiss by Richard Van CampOne kiss, two kiss, three kiss, four!So many kisses and so many more. From bestselling author Richard Van Camp comes a delightful counting book that honors families and can be used to praise your little ones as they learn to count. Ten kisses from your sweet baby might not be enough to get you through this adorable book, so you'll just have to read it over and over! Orca Book Publishers is pleased to offer this book as a dual-language (English/Plains Cree) edition.
Publication Date: 2018-09-18
First Laugh--Welcome, Baby! by Rose Ann Tahe; Nancy Bo Flood; Jonathan NelsonIn Navajo families, the first person to make a new baby laugh hosts the child's First Laugh Ceremony. Who will earn the honor in this story? The First Laugh Ceremony is a celebration held to welcome a new member of the community. As everyone--from Baby's nima (mom) to nadi (big sister) to cheii (grandfather)--tries to elicit the joyous sound from Baby, readers are introduced to details about Navajo life and the Navajo names for family members. Back matter includes information about other cultural ceremonies that welcome new babies and children, including man yue celebration (China), sanskaras (Hindu) and aquiqa (Muslim).
Publication Date: 2018-08-14
Fry Bread by Juana Martinez-Neal (Illustrator); Kevin Noble MaillardWinner of the 2020 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal A 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor Winner "A wonderful and sweet book . . . Lovely stuff." --The New York Times Book Review Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard,Fry Breadis an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal. Fry bread is food. It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate. Fry bread is time. It brings families together for meals and new memories. 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. A2020 Charlotte Huck Recommended Book APublishers WeeklyBest Picture Book of 2019 AKirkus ReviewsBest Picture Book of 2019 ASchool Library JournalBest Picture Book of 2019 ABooklist 2019 Editor's Choice AShelf AwarenessBest Children's Book of 2019 A Goodreads Choice Award 2019 Semifinalist A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book of 2019 A National Public Radio (NPR) Best Book of 2019 An NCTE Notable Poetry Book A 2020 NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People A 2020 ALA Notable Children's Book A 2020 ILA Notable Book for a Global Society 2020 Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year List One of NPR's 100 Favorite Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2019-10-22
I Can Make This Promise by Christine DayIn her debut middle grade novel--inspired by her family's history--Christine Day tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family's secrets--and finds her own Native American identity. 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. Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?
Publication Date: 2019-10-01
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith; Julie Flett (Illustrator)The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy. International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happinessto support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.
Publication Date: 2016-03-01
Thanks to the Animals by Allen Sockabasin; Rebekah Raye (Illustrator)Little Zoo Sap and his family are moving from their summer home on the coast to the deep woods for the winter, traveling on a big bobsled pulled by big horses through the snow. When Zoo Sap falls off of the sled unnoticed, the forest animals hear his cries. First to come are the beaver, who put their tails together to cradle him. Then all the other animals circle round--everyone from the tiny mouse to the giant moose to the great bald eagle--keeping him warm and safe until his father comes back to find him.
Publication Date: 2010-08-17
Thanku by Miranda Paul; Marlena Myles (Illustrator)This poetry anthology, edited by Miranda Paul, explores a wide range of ways to be grateful (from gratitude for a puppy to gratitude for family to gratitude for the sky) with poems by a diverse group of contributors, including Joseph Bruchac, Margarita Engle, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Naomi Shihab Nye, Charles Waters, and Jane Yolen.
Publication Date: 2019-09-03
Thunder Boy Jr by Sherman Alexie; Yuyi Morales (Illustrator)From New York Times bestselling author Sherman Alexie and Caldecott Honor winning Yuyi Morales comes a striking and beautifully illustrated picture book celebrating the special relationship between father and son. Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name...one that's all his own. Dad is known as big Thunder, but little thunder doesn't want to share a name. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder. But just when Little Thunder thinks all hope is lost, dad picks the best name...Lightning! Their love will be loud and bright, and together they will light up the sky.
Publication Date: 2016-05-10
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell; Frané Lessac (Illustrator)2019 Sibert Honor Book 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book NPR's Guide To 2018's Great Reads 2018 Book Launch Award (SCBWI) Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2018 School Library Journal Best Books of 2018 2018 JLG selection 2019 Reading the West Picture Book Award The Cherokee community is grateful for blessings and challenges that each season brings. This is modern Native American life as told by an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. 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, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah. "A gracious, warm, and loving celebration of community and gratitude"--Kirkus Reviews STARRED REVIEW "The book underscores the importance of traditions and carrying on a Cherokee way of life"--Horn Book STARRED REVIEW "This informative and authentic introduction to a thriving ancestral and ceremonial way of life is perfect for holiday and family sharing"--School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW "An elegant representation"--Shelf Awareness STARRED REVIEW
Publication Date: 2018-09-04
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom; Michaela Goade (Illustrator)Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth's water from harm and corruption--a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade. 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.
Publication Date: 2020-03-17
READ: Books for Middle Schoolers
1621: a New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O'Neill GraceCountering the prevailing, traditional story of the first Thanksgiving, with its black-hatted, silver-buckled Pilgrims; blanket-clad, be-feathered Indians; cranberry sauce; pumpkin pie; and turkey, this lushly illustrated photo-essay presents a more measured, balanced, and historically accurate version of the three-day harvest celebration in 1621.
Publication Date: 2001-09-01
Black Elk's Vision by S. D. NelsonA stunning picture book biography of Lakota-Oglala medicine man Black Elk, from award-winning author and illustrator S. D. Nelson Black Elk (1863-1950) was a Lakota-Oglala medicine man and a cousin of Crazy Horse. This biographical account follows him from childhood through adulthood, recounting the visions he had as a young boy and describing his involvement in the battles of Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee, as well as his journeys to New York City and Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Award-winning author and member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe S. D. Nelson tells the story of Black Elk through the voice of the medicine man, bringing to life what it was like to be Native American from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. The Native people found their land overrun by the wasichus (White Man), the buffalo slaughtered for sport, and their people gathered onto reservations. Interspersing archival images with his own artwork, inspired by the ledger-art drawings of the nineteenth-century Lakota, Nelson conveys how Black Elk clung to his childhood vision, which planted the seeds to help his people--and all people--understand their place in the Circle of Life. Backmatter includes a Lakota description of the Circle of Life, a brief history of the Lakota and a timeline.
Publication Date: 2010-02-01
Go Show the World by Wab Kinew; Joe Morse (Illustrator)Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both the more well known and the not-so-widely recognised. Individually, their stories, though briefly touched on, are inspiring; collectively, they empower the reader with this message: 'We are people who matter, yes, it s true; now let s show the world what people who matter can do.'
Publication Date: 2018-09-11
I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis; Kathy Kacer; Gillian Newland (Illustrator)When Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she is confused, frightened and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from despite being told to do otherwise. When she goes home for summer holidays, her parents decide never to send her away again, but where will she hide and what will happen when her parents disobey the law?
Publication Date: 2016-10-04
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth"A heart-healing, mocs-on-the-ground story of music, family and friendship." -- Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Tantalize and Rain is Not My Indian Name.Lewis "Shoe" Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he's not used to is white people being nice to him -- people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, 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. But when everyone else is on Evan's side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis's home -- will he still be his friend? Acclaimed adult author Eric Gansworth makes his YA debut with this wry and powerful novel about friendship, memory, and the joy of rock 'n' roll.
Publication Date: 2013-07-30
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall; Joseph Marshall; James Mark Yellowhawk (Illustrator)Through stories of Lakota leader Crazy Horse, a boy learns about his heritage and himself in this American Indian Youth Literature Award-winning novel from acclaimed author Joseph Marshall III Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy, though you wouldn't guess it by his name. His mother is Lakota, and his father is half white and half 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 nonfiction, celebrated Brulé Lakota author Joseph Marshall III chronicles the many heroic deeds of Crazy Horse, especially his taking up arms against the U.S. government. He fiercely fought against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Greasy Grass (the Battle of the Little Bighorn) and playing a major and dangerous role as decoy at the Battle of the Hundred in the Hands (the Fetterman Battle). With Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse was the last of the Lakota to surrender his people to the U.S. Army. Through his grandfather's tales about the famous warrior, Jimmy learns about his Lakota heritage and, ultimately, himself. Drawing references and inspiration from the oral stories of the Lakota tradition, Marshall gives readers an insider's perspective on the life of Tasunke Witko, better known as Crazy Horse.
Publication Date: 2015-11-10
Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis; Traci SorellWhen Regina's Umpqua tribe is legally terminated and her family must relocate from Oregon to Los Angeles, she goes on a quest to understand her identity as an Indian despite being so far from home. Regina Petit's family has always been Umpqua, and living on the Grand Ronde Tribe's reservation is all ten-year-old Regina has ever known. Her biggest worry is that Sasquatch may actually exist out in the forest. But when the federal government enacts a law that says Regina's tribe no longer exists, Regina becomes "Indian no more" overnight--even though she lives with her tribe and practices tribal customs, and even though her ancestors were Indian for countless generations. Now that they've been forced from their homeland, Regina's father signs the family up for the federal Indian Relocation Program and moves them to Los Angeles. Regina finds a whole new world in her neighborhood on 58th Place. She's 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. Meanwhile, her father believes that if he works hard, their family will be treated just like white Americans. But it's not that easy. It's 1957 during the Civil Rights era, and the family struggles without their tribal community and land. At least Regina has her grandmother, Chich, and her stories. At least they are all together. In this moving middle-grade novel drawing upon Umpqua author Charlene Willing McManis's own tribal history, Regina must find out: Who is Regina Petit? Is she Indian, American, or both? And will she and her family ever be okay?
Publication Date: 2019-09-24
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'DellScott O'Dell's Newbery Medal-winning classic is a gripping tale of survival, strength, and courage. Based on the true story of a Nicoleño Indian girl living alone on an island off the coast of California, Island of the Blue Dolphins has captivated readers for generations. On San Nicolas Island, dolphins flash in the surrounding blue waters, sea otter play in the vast kelp beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches. Here, in the early 1800s, a girl named Karana spent eighteen years alone. Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that killed her younger brother, constantly guard against Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply. Her courage, self-reliance, and grit has inspired millions of readers in this breathtaking adventure.
Publication Date: 2010-02-08
Powwow by Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane★ "Clearly organized and educational--an incredibly useful tool for both school and public libraries." --School Library Journal, starred review Powwowis a celebration of Indigenous song and dance. Journey through the history of powwow culture in North America, from its origins to the thriving powwow culture of today. As a lifelong competitive powwow dancer, Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane is a guide to the protocols, regalia, songs, dances and even food you can find at powwows from coast to coast, as well as the important role they play in Indigenous culture and reconciliation.
Publication Date: 2020-04-21
Red Bird Sings by Gina Capaldi (Illustrator); Q. L. PearceLike Montezuma (A Boy Named Beckoning), Zitkala-Sa is an important figure in Native American history about whom nothing has been written for children.This is a picture book biography of Zitkala-Sa, born Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, a Native American woman at the turn of the nineteenth century. Zitkala-Sa was a writer, editor, musician, teacher, and political activist in a time when even basic education was uncommon among Native Americans.
Publication Date: 2011-08-01
Tallchief by Maria Tallchief; Gary Kelley (Illustrator); Rosemary WellsMusic flowed through young Maria Tallchief as naturally as the wind in her hair. She had only to hear a melody and out it came under her fingers on the piano or through her body in dance. When she was twelve her father told her that she would have to choose between piano and dance. "One or the other", he said, "but follow that one star". So Maria chose from the heart -- and she chose dance. It was a decision that would change not only the course of her life but the face of classical ballet in America forever. From her early years on an Osage Indian reservation in Oklahoma to her departure for New York, where her professional career was launched, the fascinating story of Maria Tallchief's rise to America's prima ballerina is sure to captivate the hearts of young readers and dance lovers alike.
Publication Date: 1999-10-01
The People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz; Sharol Graves (Illustrator)Republished for its fortieth anniversary, this powerful story by renowned Acoma Pueblo poet and storyteller Simon J. Ortiz traces the history of Native/ Indigenous people of North America from the time of creation to the present. Many, many years ago, all things came to be. The stars, rocks, plants, rivers, animals. Mountains, sun, moon, birds, all things. And the People were born. Told in the rhythms of traditional oral narrative, this powerful telling of the history of the Native/Indigenous peoples of North America recounts their story from Creation to the invasion and usurpation of Native lands. As more and more people arrived, The People saw that the new men did not respect the land. 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. Many things changed and became more difficult, but The People continued to farm and create crafts. They remembered and told their children, "You are Shawnee. You are Lakota. You are Pima. You are Acoma. . . . You are all these Nations of the People." 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.
Publication Date: 2017-10-09
Two Roads by Joseph BruchacA boy discovers his Native American heritage in this Depression-era tale of identity and friendship by the author of Code Talker It's 1932, and twelve-year-old Cal Black and his Pop have been riding the rails for years after losing their farm in the Great Depression. Cal likes being a "knight of the road" with Pop, even if they're broke. But then Pop has to go to Washington, DC--some of his fellow veterans are marching for their government checks, and Pop wants to make sure he gets his due--and Cal can't go with him. So Pop tells Cal something he never knew before: Pop is actually a Creek Indian, which means Cal is too. And Pop has decided to send Cal to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Oklahoma called the Challagi School. At school, the other Creek boys quickly take Cal under their wings. Even in the harsh, miserable conditions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, he begins to learn about his people's history and heritage. He learns their language and customs. And most of all, he learns how to find strength in a group of friends who have nothing beyond each other.
Publication Date: 2018-10-23
Unstoppable by Art Coulson; Nick Hardcastle (Illustrator)In the autumn of 1912, the football team from Carlisle Indian Industrial School took the field at the U.S. Military Academy, home to the bigger, stronger, and better-equipped West Points Cadets. 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 for lightning-fast Jim Thorpe and the other Carlisle players, that day's game was about skill, strategy, and determination. Known for unusual formations and innovative plays, the Carlisle squad was out to prove just one thing -- that it was the best football team in all the land.
Publication Date: 2018-08-01
Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia L. SmithEdited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In a high school gym full of color and song, people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. Young protagonists will meet relatives from faraway, mysterious strangers, and sometimes one another (plus one scrappy rez dog). They are the heroes of their own stories. Featuring stories and poems by: Joseph Bruchac Art Coulson Christine Day Eric Gansworth Carole Lindstrom Dawn Quigley Rebecca Roanhorse David A. Robertson Andrea L. Rogers Kim Rogers Cynthia Leitich Smith Monique Gray Smith Traci Sorell, Tim Tingle Erika T. Wurth Brian Young In partnership with We Need Diverse Books