Native American and Indigenous voices are often under- or misrepresented in history. Many older texts are written by non-Native authors, so we want to make sure that we’re looking for books written by Indigenous authors so that we’re reading authentic stories of Indigenous history and culture. We also want to seek out contemporary texts that show Native Americans living today, so that kids don’t only see them in the past tense. This is a list I pulled together for a summer graduate class (hence the formal citations!), but I think it can be a helpful resource, so I wanted to post it here, as well. These are all #OwnVoices books.
Mailard, K.N. (2019). Fry bread: A Native American family story. Roaring Brook Press. (Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal)This nonfiction picture book includes simple text about the significance of fry bread in Native American homes and families, both traditional and today. The author, who is Seminole, includes extensive notes in the back with more information. I’ve never before read an author’s note so beautifully written that it gave me chills.
Sorrell, T. (2018). We are grateful: Otsaliheliga. Charlesbridge. (Illustrated by Frane Lessac) This is a picture book that walks readers through the beauty of each season. It includes Cherokee vocabulary (and pronunciation) throughout, and it’s wonderful for elementary students. It could be incorporated during the Thanksgiving season as an alternative view on books about gratitude.
Quigley, D. (2019). Native American heroes (Inspiring Leaders series). Scholastic. This nonfiction book for elementary readers profiles inspiring Native American leaders, some from history, but most more recent. Dawn Quigley is Ojibwe, and the featured leaders are from a variety of nations. My students really enjoyed these short biographies.
Ortiz, S.J. (1977). The people shall continue. Children’s Book Press. (Illustrated by Sharol Graves) This is an older picture book, but a 40th anniversary edition was recently published. It gives a history of Indigenous people in North America from an Indigenous perspective, in the style of traditional oral histories.
Dunbar-Ortiz, R., Mendoza, J., & Reese, D. (2019). An Indigenous people’s history of the United States for young people. Beacon Press. This is a young-adult adaptation of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s adult history book of the same name. It is accessible for middle and high school students to read on their own, and is also a great resource for teachers to broaden their understanding of U.S. history.
Lindstrom, C. (2020). We are water protectors. Roaring Brook Press. (Illustrated by Michaela Goade) This nonfiction picture book by Metis/Ojibwe writer Carole Lindstrom is an account of the Native American activists engaged in protecting the environment from oil drilling and other threats.
McManis, C.W. & Sorrell, T. (2019). Indian no more. Lee & Low Books. This is a middle grade novel by two Own Voices writers (Umpqua, Cherokee) that was chosen for the 2020 Global Read Aloud. It is historical fiction about the federal Indian Relocation program.
Dupuis, J.K & Kacer, K. (2016). I am not a number. Second Story Press. This is another historical fiction, middle grade novel. Inspired by the story of Jenny Dupuis’ grandmother, it describes the experience of Anishinaabe children taken from their families and sent to an Indian Residential School. There is a dual-language English-Ojibwe edition.
Quigley, D. (2018). Apple in the middle. North Dakota State University Press. This is a contemporary young adult novel about a girl with mixed heritage spending the summer with her Native American relatives on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota for the first time. It explores how she learns to navigate two cultures in her adolescence.
Smith, M.G. (2017). You hold me up. Orca Book Publishers. (Illustrated by Danielle Daniel) This is a sweet picture book for young readers that explores the different ways we take care of and support the people we care about.
Writing about practicing literacy and freedom with my small humans.