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Children’s Book Recommendations:

Native American Voices


The Birchbark House (series) by Louise Erdrich – “Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847.” 

Code Talker: a Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac – “After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.”

Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices (Non-Fiction) edited by Lisa Charleyboy – “Anthology of art and writings from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today.”

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day – “When 12-year-old Edie finds letters and photographs in her attic that change everything she thought she knew about her Native American mother’s adoption, she realizes she has a lot to learn about her family’s history.”

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker (Non-Fiction/Folktales) by Robbie Robertson – “Born of Mohawk and Cayuga descent, musical icon Robbie Robertson learned the story of Hiawatha and his spiritual guide, the Peacemaker, as part of the Iroquois oral tradition. Now he shares the same gift of storytelling with a new generation.”

How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story (and sequel) by Tim Tingle – A Choctaw boy tells the story of his tribe’s removal from the only land its people had ever known, and how their journey to Oklahoma led him to become a ghost–one with the ability to help those he left behind.”

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis – “In 1957, 10-year-old Regina Petit’s Umpqua tribe is legally terminated and forced to leave Oregon, but in Los Angeles her family faces prejudice and she struggles to understand her identity as an Indian far from tribal lands.”

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse – “Guided by her Navajo ancestors, 7th-grader Nizhoni Begay discovers she is descended from a holy woman and destined to become a monsterslayer, starting with the evil businessman who kidnapped her father.”

Red Cloud: a Lakota Story of War and Surrender (Biography) by S.D. Nelson – “This book is the story of the Lakota and how they were forced onto a reservation, told from the point of view of Red Cloud, warrior and chief of the Lakota.”

Runs with Courage by Joan M. Wolf – “In the Dakota Territory in 1880, Four Winds, a 10-year-old Lakota girl, is taken from her family to a boarding school, where she is taught English and expected to assimilate into white culture.”

Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of his People by S. D. Nelson – Sitting Bull was one of the greatest Lakota/Sioux warriors and chiefs who ever lived. From killing his first buffalo at age 10 to being named war chief to leading his people against the U.S. Army.”

Talking Leaves by Joseph Bruchac – “The story of Sequoyah and the creation of the Cherokee syllabary, as told by his 13-year-old son.”

Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief with Rosemary Wells  Ballerina Maria Tallchief describes her childhood on an Osage reservation, the development of her love of dance, and her rise to success in that field.”

Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac – “In 1932, 12-year-old Cal must stop riding the rails 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.”

Picture Books

All Around Us by Xelena Gonzalez – “Finding circles everywhere, a grandfather and his granddaughter meditate on the cycles of life and nature.”

At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell – At the mountain’s base sits a cabin under an old hickory tree. And in that cabin lives a family-loving, weaving, cooking, and singing. The strength in their song sustains them through trials on the ground and in the sky, as they wait for their loved one, a pilot, to return from war.”

Birdsong by Julie Flett – “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.”

Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child – “When Uncle and Windy Girl attend a powwow, Windy watches the dancers and listens to the singers. Later, Windy falls asleep under the stars. Uncle’s stories inspire visions in her head: a bowwow powwow, where all the dancers are dogs.” 

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard – “As children help a Native American grandmother make fry bread, delves into the history, social ways, foodways, and politics of America’s 573 recognized Indian tribes.”

My Heart Fills with Happiness (Board Book) by Monique Gray Smith – “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.”

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie – Thunder Boy Jr. wants a name all his own. Dad is known as Big Thunder, but Little Thunder doesn’t want to share a name.”

Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Defeated the Army (Non-Fiction) by Art Coulson – “In 1912, the football team from Carlisle Indian Industrial School took the field against the bigger, stronger, and better-equipped West Points Cadets. Sports writers billed the game as a rematch, of 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.” 

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell – “Otsaliheliga is a Cherokee word that is used to express gratitude. Journey through the year with a Cherokee family and their tribal nation as they express thanks for celebrations big and small.”

We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp – “This celebration of the bond between parent and child captures the wonder new parents feel as they welcome their new baby.”

When I Was Eight (Biography) by Christy Jordan-Fenton – “This book chronicles the unbreakable spirit of an Inuit girl while attending an Arctic residential school.”

When We Were Alone by David Robertson – “When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away.”

Wilma’s Way Home: the Life of Wilma Mankiller (Biography) by Doreen Rappaport – “A picturebook biography of Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.”

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith – “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.”

Young Water Protectors A Story About Standing Rock (Non-Fiction) by Aslan Tudor – “At the not-so-tender age of 8, Aslan arrived in North Dakota to help stop a pipeline. A few months later he returned – and saw the whole world watching.”