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Native Americans: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about Native Americans?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to Native Americans. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about Native Americans.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about Native Americans, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like You Hold Me Up to popular sellers like Island of the Blue Dolphins to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Indian in the Cupboard.

We hope this list of kids books about Native Americans can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About Native Americans

#1
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This Little Explorer
Written by Joan Holub & illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Learn all about the most influential explorers who searched the world far and wide in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for pioneers-in-training! Little explorers discover a great big world. The follow up to This Little President, now even the youngest adventurers can learn about the greatest explorers in history with this bright and playful board book. Highlighting ten memorable pioneers, parents and young discoverers alike will love sharing this fun historical primer full of age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.
#2
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Ten Little Rabbits
Written by Virginia Grossman & illustrated by Sylvia Long
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
A counting rhyme with illustrations of rabbits in Native American costume, depicting traditional customs such as rain dances, hunting, and smoke signals. On board pages.
#3
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Little You
Written by Richard Van Camp
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Richard Van Camp, internationally renowned storyteller and bestselling author of the hugely successful Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns, has partnered with award-winning illustrator Julie Flett to create a tender board book for babies and toddlers that celebrates the potential of every child. With its delightful contemporary illustrations, Little You is perfect to be shared, read or sung to all the little people in your life—and the new little ones on the way!
#4
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The Indian in the Cupboard
Written & illustrated by Lynne Reid Banks
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Full of magic and appealing characters, this classic novel takes readers on a remarkable adventure. It's Omri's birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian toy. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Little does Omri know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real live man from an altogether different time and place! Omri and the tiny warrior called Little Bear could hardly be more different, yet soon the two forge a very special friendship. Will Omri be able to keep Little Bear without anyone finding out and taking his precious Indian from him?
#5
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The Rough-Face Girl
Written by Rafe Martin & illustrated by David Shannon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
From Algonquin Indian folklore comes one of the most haunting, powerful versions of the Cinderella tale ever told. In a village by the shores of Lake Ontario lived an invisible being. All the young women wanted to marry him because he was rich, powerful, and supposedly very handsome. But to marry the invisible being the women had to prove to his sister that they had seen him. And none had been able to get past the sister's stern, all-knowing gaze. Then came the Rough-Face girl, scarred from working by the fire. Could she succeed where her beautiful, cruel sisters had failed?
#6
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The Three Snow Bears
Written & illustrated by Jan Brett
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Jan Brett’s bestselling snowy “Goldilocks” retelling is now available in this popular large, durable format. Painted in her signature style, the familiar story and depiction of playful Arctic animals and birds dressed in colorful Inuit costumes make this classic tale a perfect choice for Jan’s youngest fans.
#7
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Soapstone Porcupine
Written by Jeff Pinkney & illustrated by Darlene Gait
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-9
The dog shows up the way snow does on a winter’s day. She just drifts in and stays, becoming the friend of a young Cree boy. The boy and the dog set out on an adventure that ends in a quandary of quills and a big brother who swears to take revenge on the porcupine. But Lindy, a Cree elder and master carver, reminds the brothers of the importance of the great porcupine. After a day spent carving in town, the boy learns some truths about human nature and realizes that sometimes, like the porcupine, you must put your quills up to keep from getting pushed around. Soapstone Porcupine is the second book, after Soapstone Signs, narrated by a young Cree boy.
#8
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Navajo Code Talkers
Written by Blake Hoena
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14
During World War II U.S. forces had to keep battle plans and other top secret information out of the enemy's hands. Coded messages were often used, but secret codes could be broken. To solve this problem, the U.S. military turned to an unexpected source to create an unbreakable code. The Navajo people spoke a complex language that few outsiders knew how to speak. Several Navajo soldiers were recruited to develop a code based on the Navajo language. The result was a complex code that could not be solved by the enemy. Learn all about the brave Navajo Code Talkers and how their unbreakable code helped defeat the enemy and win the war.
#9
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Island of the Blue Dolphins
Written & illustrated by Scott O'Dell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches. Here, in the early 1800s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot a near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply. More than this, it is an adventure of the spirit that will haunt the reader long after the book has been put down. Karana's quiet courage, her Indian self-reliance and acceptance of fate, transform what to many would have been a devastating ordeal into an uplifting experience. From loneliness and terror come strength and serenity in this Newbery Medal-winning classic.
#10
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The Grizzly Mother
Written by Brett D. Huson & illustrated by Natasha Donovan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
To the Gitxsan people of northwestern British Columbia, the grizzly is an integral part of the natural landscape. They share the land and forests the Skeena River runs through, as well as the sockeye salmon within it. The Grizzly Mother explores how an ecosystem’s animals, people and seasons are all intertwined.
Table of Contents
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Books About Native Americans and Action And Adventure

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This Little Explorer
Written by Joan Holub & illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Learn all about the most influential explorers who searched the world far and wide in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for pioneers-in-training! Little explorers discover a great big world. The follow up to This Little President, now even the youngest adventurers can learn about the greatest explorers in history with this bright and playful board book. Highlighting ten memorable pioneers, parents and young discoverers alike will love sharing this fun historical primer full of age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.
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Soapstone Porcupine
Written by Jeff Pinkney & illustrated by Darlene Gait
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-9
The dog shows up the way snow does on a winter’s day. She just drifts in and stays, becoming the friend of a young Cree boy. The boy and the dog set out on an adventure that ends in a quandary of quills and a big brother who swears to take revenge on the porcupine. But Lindy, a Cree elder and master carver, reminds the brothers of the importance of the great porcupine. After a day spent carving in town, the boy learns some truths about human nature and realizes that sometimes, like the porcupine, you must put your quills up to keep from getting pushed around. Soapstone Porcupine is the second book, after Soapstone Signs, narrated by a young Cree boy.
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Island of the Blue Dolphins
Written & illustrated by Scott O'Dell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches. Here, in the early 1800s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot a near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply. More than this, it is an adventure of the spirit that will haunt the reader long after the book has been put down. Karana's quiet courage, her Indian self-reliance and acceptance of fate, transform what to many would have been a devastating ordeal into an uplifting experience. From loneliness and terror come strength and serenity in this Newbery Medal-winning classic.
Honorable Mentions
The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito book
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Paddle-to-the-Sea book
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The Case of Windy Lake book
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The Girl and the Wolf book
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  1. The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito - Timely, Fun, Challenging and Wise! Tomson Highway’s musical cabaret, The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, couldn’t be more vividly presented unless you were sitting in the middle seat of the front row watching the Cree playwright, performer, musician and poet himself. The story of a wingless little mosquito from Manitoba has all the whimsy and wise humour any audience could ask for. The ageless theme of a misfit, who finds her voice through song and who learns to make friends by communicating directly with her audience, is a timely treat for anyone who has felt like an outsider, dealt with bullying, moved to a new place, or was different from the rest of the pack. The entire script is here, complete with song lyrics, stage directions, Cree vocabulary, and challenging tongue twisters to delight all ages. A perfect book for drama students, teachers, and theatre enthusiasts, this beautiful full-colour volume serves as an interactive read-aloud for the young, or a great way to introduce students to the joys of staging a musical production.

  2. Paddle-to-the-Sea - A toy Indian and his canoe travel from Lake Nipigon to the Atlantic Ocean.

  3. The Case of Windy Lake - Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee are four cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. They are inseparable. Nicknamed the Mighty Muskrats for their habit of laughing, fighting and adventuring together, the cousins find that each new exploit adds to their reputation. When a visiting archeologist goes missing, the cousins decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance. In the midst of community conflict, family concerns and environmental protests, the four get busy following every lead. From their base of operations in a fort made out of an old school bus, the Mighty Muskrats won’t let anything stop them from solving their case!

  4. The Girl and the Wolf - 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.

Books About Native Americans and Family

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Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
Written by Kevin Noble Maillard & illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is 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.
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Little You
Written by Richard Van Camp
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Richard Van Camp, internationally renowned storyteller and bestselling author of the hugely successful Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns, has partnered with award-winning illustrator Julie Flett to create a tender board book for babies and toddlers that celebrates the potential of every child. With its delightful contemporary illustrations, Little You is perfect to be shared, read or sung to all the little people in your life—and the new little ones on the way!
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Stolen Words / Kimotinaniwiw Pikiskwewina
Written by Melanie Florence & illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8
The dual language edition, in Cree and English, of the award-winning story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in Cree, he tells her that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.
Honorable Mentions
The Train book
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May We Have Enough to Share book
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First Laugh--Welcome, Baby book
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The Thundermaker book
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  1. The Train - Ashley meets her great-uncle by the old train tracks near their reserve in Nova Scotia. When she sees his sadness, he shares with her the history of those tracks. Uncle tells her that, during his childhood, the train would bring their community supplies, but there came a day when the train took away with it something much more important. One day he and the other children from the reserve were taken aboard and transported to a residential school, where their lives were changed forever. Ashley promises to wait with her uncle as he sits by the tracks, waiting for what was taken from their people to come back to them.

  2. May We Have Enough to Share - Award-winning author Richard Van Camp wrote this book to express his gratitude for all that surrounds him and his family. The strength of their connections, the nature that provides for them, the love that is endless. Complemented by photos from photographers who celebrate their own gratefulness on the collective blog Tea&Bannock, the simple verse in May We Have Enough to Share is the perfect way to start or end your little one’s days in gratitude.

  3. First Laugh--Welcome, Baby - In 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.

  4. The Thundermaker - The Thundermaker is based on Mi’kmaw artist Alan Syliboy’s spectacular mixed-media exhibit of the same name. In the book, Big Thunder teaches his son, Little Thunder, about the important responsibility he has in making thunder for his people. Little Thunder learns about his Mi’kmaw identity through his father’s teachings and his mother’s traditional stories. Syliboy’s spectacular, vibrant artwork brings the story of Little Thunder to vivid life.

Books About Native Americans and Canada

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The Grizzly Mother
Written by Brett D. Huson & illustrated by Natasha Donovan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
To the Gitxsan people of northwestern British Columbia, the grizzly is an integral part of the natural landscape. They share the land and forests the Skeena River runs through, as well as the sockeye salmon within it. The Grizzly Mother explores how an ecosystem’s animals, people and seasons are all intertwined.
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Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
Written by Wab Kinew & illustrated by Joe Morse
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9
"We are a people who matter." Inspired by President Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing, Go Show the World is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington. 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 recognized. 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."
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Sweetest Kulu
Written by Celina Kalluk & illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
"This beautiful bedtime poem, written by acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic. Lyrically and tenderly told by a mother speaking to her own little "Kulu," an Inuktitut term of endearment often bestowed upon babies and young children, this visually stunning book is infused with the traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants."--
Honorable Mentions
Neekah's Knitting Needles book
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The Salmon Twins book
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Nimoshom and His Bus book
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  1. Neekah's Knitting Needles - Neekah’s great grandma, Mumma, knit all her life. Her Grandma Dorothy knits, her mom knits and all her aunties knit. Even some of Neekah’s uncles knit, too. Every year she asks her mom if she can learn, and every year she hears, “Be patient. Your hands aren’t quite big enough yet.”
    At last Neekah is ready to learn, her head and heart bursting with the colorful designs she will create with the wool. She sits down with her mom, holding the wooden needles Grandpa Carl has made for her and the wool she chose from Auntie Joni’s shop. But knitting a toque for Grandma Dorothy is not as easy as she had imagined.

  2. The Salmon Twins - In her third book inspired by First Nations’ stories, children’s author and illustrator Caroll Simpson explains the significance of community values. She introduces readers to a world of creatures like Sea Lion, Killer Whale, Dogfish and Kingfisher. Her dramatic tale of young twins and their transformation shows how working together keeps a community healthy. When new twins are born in a mythical Pacific Coast village, everyone celebrates because the birth of twins is a rare occasion; twins are the children of the salmon. But when the twins grow selfish and greedy, Thunderbird transforms them into a Two-Headed Sea Serpent. Can the Serpent’s heads learn to work together? The question becomes more important when the salmon don’t run up the river and the villagers start to go hungry. The Serpent’s heads have to co-operate with each other to solve the mystery and restore the salmon run. Written for children aged 3 to 10, this charming story is illustrated with Simpson’s distinctive colour paintings that celebrate First Nations culture. A glossary of mythical creatures and sea life provides informative teaching points and invites further exploration of West Coast cultures. Also available in hardcover.

  3. Nimoshom and His Bus - Nimoshom and His Bus introduces basic Cree words. Children riding the school bus learn from their driver, Nimoshom (“my grandfather”), who speaks to them in their own language—Cree. Nimoshom and His Bus is a welcoming, simple story with inviting illustrations

Books About Native Americans and Science And Nature

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The Bear's Medicine / Sus You
Written & illustrated by Clayton Gauthier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8
A mother bear shares with her cubs how to be grateful for all they have in the natural world. The Bear’s Medicine shows the interconnectedness of all things in the world they live in and how each season brings changes and blessings for the bears. It is a story of a mother’s love for her children as she teaches them how to survive.
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We Are Water Protectors
Written by Carole Lindstrom & illustrated by Michaela Goade
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, Carole Lindstrom's bold and lyrical picture book We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguarding the Earth’s water from harm and corruption. 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.
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Nibi is Water
Written by Joanne Robertson
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-2
A first conversation about the importance of Nibi―which means water in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)―and our role to thank, respect, love, and protect it. Babies and toddlers can follow Nibi as it rains and snows, splashes or rows, drips and sips. Written from an Anishinaabe water protector’s perspective, the book is in dual language―English and Anishinaabemowin.
Honorable Mentions
The Water Walker / Nibi Emosaawdang book
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Zoe and the Fawn book
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  1. The Water Walker / Nibi Emosaawdang - The story of the determined Ojibwe Nokomis (grandmother) Josephine Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our 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 us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water, the giver of life, and to protect our planet for all generations.

  2. Zoe and the Fawn - Zoe and her father are delighted to come across a fawn in the forest. But the fawn is alone—where is its mother? Join Zoe on her quest for the deer, as she encounters animals and learns their syilx (Okanagan) names along the way. Repetition of phrased questions will enhance success for beginning readers while creating a playful rhythm for young listeners.

Books About Native Americans and Social Themes

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My Heart Fills with Happiness
Written by Monique Gray Smith & illustrated by Julie Flett
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
A board book that celebrates happiness and invites children to reflect on the little things in life that bring them joy.
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Neekna and Chemai
Written by Jeannette Armstrong & illustrated by Barbara Marchand
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Neekna and Chemai are two little girls growing up in the Okanagan Valley in the time before European contact. Through these two friends, we learn about the seasonal life patterns of the Okanagan First Peoples. The girls spend time with Great-Grandmother, who tells them about important ceremonies, and they gather plants with Neekna's grandmother. Grandmother explains how bitterroot came to be an important food source, and why the people give a special ceremony of thanks at its harvest. Grandmother also tells the story of how a woman was changed to a rock to watch over the Okanagan Valley. Neekna understands how important it is that she has received the knowledge passed down for generations, from great-grandmother to grandmother to mother.
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Kiss by Kiss
Written by Richard Van Camp
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Count your kisses with baby in this delightful rhyming board book. In English and Plains Cree.
Honorable Mentions
Thunder Boy Jr. book
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You Hold Me Up book
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian book
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Kirsten Learns a Lesson book
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  1. Thunder Boy Jr. - 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.

  2. You Hold Me Up - This vibrant picture book, beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other’s well-being in their everyday actions. 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 is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens. Orca Book Publishers is pleased to offer this hardcover picture book as a dual-language (English and Plains Cree) edition.

  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - The 10th anniversary edition of Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling novel—bonus content included! Sherman Alexie, in his first book for young adults, tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the reservation to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, beautifully written, semi-autobiographical, and coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will continue to make a lasting impression for many years to come. Bonus content to include an introduction from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Woodson, a new author’s note, an excerpt of a sequel from the character Rowdy’s point of view, and more!

  4. Kirsten Learns a Lesson - Kirsten starts school in America, but she doesn’t speak English very well. Miss Winston, her new teacher, is strict and not very understanding. Things get worse when Miss Winston comes to live with the Larson family. Kirsten’s only escape is playing with her secret friend, Singing Bird. When Singing Bird suggests running away forever, Kirsten must decide where she belongs. Kirsten does learn some important lessons in school, but she learns something even more important about herself.

Books About Native Americans and 20th Century

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Navajo Code Talkers
Written by Blake Hoena
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14
During World War II U.S. forces had to keep battle plans and other top secret information out of the enemy's hands. Coded messages were often used, but secret codes could be broken. To solve this problem, the U.S. military turned to an unexpected source to create an unbreakable code. The Navajo people spoke a complex language that few outsiders knew how to speak. Several Navajo soldiers were recruited to develop a code based on the Navajo language. The result was a complex code that could not be solved by the enemy. Learn all about the brave Navajo Code Talkers and how their unbreakable code helped defeat the enemy and win the war.
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Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code
Written by Joseph Bruchac & illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
As a young Navajo boy, Chester Nez had to leave the reservation and attend boarding school, where he was taught that his native language and culture were useless. But Chester refused to give up his heritage. Years later, during World War II, Chester—and other Navajo men like him—was recruited by the US Marines to use the Navajo language to create an unbreakable military code. Suddenly the language he had been told to forget was needed to fight a war. This powerful picture book biography contains backmatter including a timeline and a portion of the Navajo code, and also depicts the life of an original Navajo code talker while capturing the importance of heritage.
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Two Roads
Written by Joseph Bruchac
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14
In 1932, twelve-year-old Cal must stop being a hobo with his father and go to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, where he begins learning about his history and heritage as a Creek Indian.
Honorable Mentions
I Am Not a Number / Gaawin Ndoo-Gindaaswisii book
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Beyond the Green book
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  1. I Am Not a Number / Gaawin Ndoo-Gindaaswisii - When eight-year-old 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 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?

  2. Beyond the Green - “After twelve-year-old Britta’s family fostered Chipeta, a Native American baby, for four years, Chipeta’s birth mother has the right to take her back. In 1979 Utah, Britta can’t imagine life without her beloved little sister, and so she grows determined to do whatever she can to keep her sister and to eventually understand how complicated and important family is—in all its forms”—

Books About Native Americans and Inuit

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When I Was Eight
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-7
Looks at the experiences of a strong-willed young Inuit girl who receives permission from her father to travel to a residential religious school run by non-Inuit outsiders, where she struggles to adapt to the new way of living.
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On Mother's Lap
Written by Ann Herbert Scott & illustrated by Glo Coalson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
A small Eskimo boy discovers that Mother's lap is a very special place with room for everyone.
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The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale
Written & illustrated by Lydia Dabcovich
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
A lonely old woman adopts, cares for, and raises a polar bear as if he were her own son, until jealous villagers threaten the bear's life, forcing him to leave his home and his "mother," in a retelling of a traditional Inuit folktale.
Honorable Mentions
A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North book
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Julie of the Wolves book
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  1. A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North - With the help of Eskimos, Jan Welzl survives a perilous journey from central Europe to the Arctic regions in the late 1800s

  2. Julie of the Wolves - Lost on the Tundra To her small Eskimo village, she is known as Miyax; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When the village is no longer safe for her, Miyax runs away. But she soon finds herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness, without food, without even a compass to guide her. Slowly she is accepted by a pack of Arctic wolves, Mid she grows to love them as though they were family. With their help, and drawing on her father’s teachings, Miyax struggles day by clay to survive. But the time comes when she must leave the wilderness and choose between the old ways an(] the new. Which will she choose? For she is Miyax of the Eskimos—but Julie of the Wolves. Faced with the prospect of a disagreeable arranged marriage or a journey acoss the barren Alaskan tundra, 13-year-old Miyax chooses the tundra. She finds herself caught between the traditional Eskimo ways and the modern ways of the whites. Miyax, or Julie as her pen pal Amy calls her, sets out alone to visit Amy in San Francisco, a world far away from Eskimo culture and the frozen land of Alaska. During her long and arduous journey, Miyax comes to appreciate the value of her Eskimo heritage, learns about herself, and wins the friednship of a pack of wolves. After learning the language of the wolves and slowly earning their trust, Julie becomes a member of the pack. Since its first publication, Julie of The Wolves,winner of thr 1973 Newbery Medal, has found its way into the hearts of millions of readers.

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