Read Woke @ Goodnow

Teens’ Book Recommendations:

Native American Voices


Fiction

Give Me Some Truth – Eric Gansworth

“In 1980 life is hard on the Tuscarora Reservation in upstate New York, and most of the teenagers feel like they are going nowhere: Carson Mastick dreams of forming a rock band, and Maggi Bokoni longs to create her own conceptual artwork instead of the traditional beadwork that her family sells to tourists–but tensions are rising between the reservation and the surrounding communities, and somehow in the confusion of politics and growing up Carson and Maggi have to make a place for themselves.”

Elatsoe – Darcie Little Badger


“Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream. There are some differences. This America has been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day. Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.”
Hearts Unbroken – Cynthia Leitich Smith
“When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and 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. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town.”

All the Little Lights – Jamie McGuire

“The first time Elliott Youngblood spots Catherine Calhoun, he’s just a boy with a camera, and he’s never seen a sadder and more beautiful sight. Both Elliott and Catherine feel like outcasts, yet they find an easy friendship with each other. But when Catherine needs him most, Elliott is forced to leave town. Elliott finally returns, but he and Catherine are now different people. He’s a star high school athlete, and she spends all her free time working at her mother’s mysterious bed-and-breakfast. Catherine hasn’t forgiven Elliott for abandoning her, but he’s determined to win back her friendship…and her heart. Just when Catherine is ready to fully trust Elliott, he becomes the prime suspect in a local tragedy. Despite the town’s growing suspicions, Catherine clings to her love for Elliott. But a devastating secret that Catherine has buried could destroy whatever chance of happiness they have left.”

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie

“Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.”

Just Lucky – Melanie Florence

“After her grandfather dies and her grandmother is found to have dementia, fifteen-year-old Lucky must navigate the foster-care system.”

Fire Song – Adam Garnet Jones

“How can Shane reconcile his feelings for David with his desire for a better life? [He’s] still reeling from the suicide of his kid sister Destiny. How could he have missed the fact that she was so sad? He tries to share his grief with his girlfriend Tara, but she’s too concerned with her own needs to offer him much comfort. What he really wants is to be able to turn to the one person on the rez whom he loves–his friend, David”

A Name Earned – Tim Tingle

“As the basketball playoffs draw near, Chocktaw teen Bobby Byington shares the legend of No Name with his teammates, who are dealing with family problems all too familiar to him”

The Marrow Thieves – Cherie Dimaline

“”In a future world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America’s indigenous population–and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow–and dreams–means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a 15-year-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones, and take refuge from the ‘recruiters’ who seek them out to bring them to the marrow-stealing ‘factories’”

Found – Joseph Bruchac 

“A teenage survival expert finds all his skills tested as he’s pursued through the Canadian wilderness by men determined to silence him. On his way to teach at Camp Seven Generations, a Native outdoor school, Nick witnesses a murder and then is thrown off a train. Remembering and using the teachings of his Abenaki Elders will prove to be the difference between life and death for him. Although his pursuers have modern technology to help them, Nick has something even more useful. In addition to the skills he’s learned, he has an ally in the natural world around him. Found, like the famous story “The Most Dangerous Game,” is a tale that focuses on being hunted until a way can be found to become the hunter.”

Messenger 93 – Barbara Radecki

“In seven days, she will fall,” say the crows. “As she falls, so do we all.” The ominous message starts M on a quest, but what if the person in danger happens to be her nemesis? M meets Gray, a Cree boy with his own hopes of saving a runaway Indigenous girl. As they begin a wild journey through the city and into the bleak northern woods, M grasps for the true meaning behind the crows’ messages and pushes deeper into worlds she doesn’t know or understand, holding fast to a questionable dream that she might be a modern-day Joan of Arc.”

Apple in the Middle – Dawn Quigley

“Apple Starkington turned her back on her Native American heritage the moment she was called a racial slur for someone of white and Indian descent, not that she really even knew how to be an Indian. Too bad the white world doesn’t accept her either. And so begins her quirky habits to gain acceptance. Apple’s name, chosen by her Indian mother on her deathbed, has a double meaning: treasured apple of my eye, but also the negative connotation-a person who is red, or Indian, on the outside, but white on the inside.After her wealthy father gives her the boot one summer, Apple reluctantly agrees to visit her Native American relatives on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota for the first time. Apple learns to deal with the culture shock of Indian customs and the Native Michif language, while she tries to deal with a vengeful Indian man who loved her mother in high school but now hates Apple because her mom married a white man.As Apple meets her Indian relatives, she shatters Indian stereotypes and learns what it means to find her place in a world divided by color.”

Dreaming in Color – Melanie Florence

“Jennifer McCaffrey has been working hard on her art for years and is thrilled when she is accepted to a prestigious art school. The school is everything she always thought it would be, mostly. There is one group of kids who seem to resent her and say she only got in because of her skin color. Jen, who loves to create new pieces of artwork that incorporate her Indigenous heritage, finds herself a target when the group tells her to stop being “so Indian”. The night before the big art show at school, Jen’s beading art project is defaced. Jen has to find a way not to let the haters win.”

Code Talker – 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.”

Shadows Cast by Stars – Catherine Knuttson

“Two hundred years from now, blood has become the most valuable commodity on the planet–especially the blood of aboriginal peoples, for it contains antibodies that protect them from the Plague ravaging the rest of the world. Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to the Plague, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe–government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood. When a search threatens Cassandra and her family, they flee to the Island: a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerilla warriors–and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in. And though the village healer has taken her under her wing, and the tribal leader’s son into his heart, the creatures of the spirit world are angry, and they have chosen Cassandra to be their voice and instrument.”

Graphic Novels

Surviving the City – Tasha Spillet-Summer

“”Tasha Spillet’s graphic-novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, resilience, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan’s Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape – they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don’t? Colonialism and the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People are explored in Natasha Donovan’s beautiful illustrations.”

Pemmican Wars – Katherena Vermette

“Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Mâetis girl adjusting to a new home and school, is struggling with loneliness while separated from her mother. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee’s history class turns extraordinary, and Echo’s life will never be the same. During Mr. Bee’s lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place–a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie–and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Mâetis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.”

Non-Fiction

What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal – Eldon Yellowhorn

“What do people do when their civilization is invaded? 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. When the only possible “victory” was survival, they survived”

Heart Berries – Terese Marie Mailhot

“Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father-an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist-who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.”

#notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women – Charleyboy

“Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that [combines] to 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”