By Hanna, Coulee City Librarian
This resource list contains books for children and middle grade readers in various formats that will help you celebrate Native American Heritage Month.
This month-long celebration originated over 100 years ago to recognize the contributions the first Americans made – and continue to make – to the United States. Modern celebrations dually honor Native American cultures, achievements, and wisdom and educate about the United State’s ugly history (and present acts) of land theft and other injustices. These resources offer varied perspectives on Native American life. We encourage you to read outside your age group!
Children’s Picture Books
Join celebrated artist Julie Flett on a joyful romp with animals. From chirping birds to squirting whales, this book reminds young children how animals play just like them. Gorgeous images and sweet simple text celebrae the interconnectedness of all creatures, including some Cree phrases. The story is based on the Cree teaching of wahkohtowin, interconnectedness and play, and includes as well the English and Cree names of the animals in the book.
The First Blade of Sweetgrass : A Native American Story by Suzanne Greenlaw Print
In this Own Voices Native American picture book story, a modern Wabanaki girl is excited to accompany her grandmother for the first time to harvest sweetgrass for basket making.
Frog Girl by Paul Owen Lewis Print
When the frogs suddenly vanish from the lake behind her village, a young Native American girl is led to the frog village underneath the lake and learns what she must do to save both the frogs and her own people.
Josie dances by Denise Lajimodiere Print
As she prepares for her first powwow, an Ojibwa girl practices her dance steps, gets help from her family, and is inspired by the soaring flight of Migizi, the eagle. Includes glossary.
Middle Grade Fiction
Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac Print
Twelve-year-old Malian lives with her grandparents on a Wabanaki reservation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Told in verse inspired by oral storytelling, this novel highlights the ways Malian’s community has cared for one another through plagues of the past, and how they continue to care for one another now.
Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith Print
In this magical, modern twist on Peter Pan, stepsisters Lily and Wendy are spirited away to Neverland by a mysterious boy and must find a way back to the family they love.
Seepeetza loves living on Joyaska Ranch with her parents and brothers and sisters. But when she is six years old, she must go to live in the town of Kalamak, British Columbia, and attend Indian residential school. The nuns call her “Martha” and cut her hair. She is forbidden to “talk Indian,” even with her sisters and cousins.
Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia Leitich Smith Print
Edited 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.
Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction
Discover the amazing story of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas from the end of the Ice Age to the arrival of the Europeans. You’ll learn what people ate, how they expressed themselves through art, and how they adapted to the land. Archaeologists have been able to piece together what life may have been like pre-contact– and how life changed with the arrival of the Europeans.
Traces the history of the indigenous populations of the Americas after the arrival of Europeans, discussing how different civilizations faced disease, war, broken promises, and forced assimilation to keep their cultures alive.
From the acclaimed Ojibwe author and professor Anton Treuer comes an essential book of questions and answers for Native and non-Native young readers alike. Ranging from “Why is there such a fuss about nonnative people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween?” to “Why is it called a ‘traditional Indian fry bread taco’?” to “What’s it like for natives who don’t look native?” Updated to include dozens of new questions and sections, including a social activism section that explores the Dakota Access Pipeline, racism, identity, politics, and more.
Treaty Words: For as Long as the Rivers Flow by Aimée Craft Print
The first treaty that was made was between the earth and the sky. It was an agreement to work together. We build all of our treaties on that original treaty. On the banks of the river that have been Mishomis’s home his whole life, he teaches his granddaughter to listen–to hear both the sounds and the silences, and so to learn her place in Creation. Most importantly, he teaches her about treaties–the bonds of reciprocity and renewal that endure for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow. Accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Luke Swinson, Aimée Craft affirms the importance of understanding an Indigenous perspective on treaties in this evocative book that is essential for readers of all ages.