It’s been a few years since I wrote this piece on children’s books by native and indigenous authors, so I thought it might be time to share a few more recent favorites. These books are part of our bedtime story rotation all year long, but in the midst of Native American Heritage Month they’re especially lovely additions to the bedtime/anytime routine.
WE ARE GRATEFUL: OTSALIHELGIA by Traci Sorell; illustrations by Frane Lessac
We got this beautiful book from the library last fall and my kids adored it. It tells the story of a year full of modern-day Cherokee celebrations and gatherings. Cherokee words and pronunciations are woven throughout the text and there’s a complete appended glossary and syllabary for further reference.
FRY BREAD by Kevin Noble Maillard; illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal
I adore this sweet, poetic book. It’s a celebration of fry bread, yes, but it also celebrates and highlights the diversity of the modern indigenous experience in the US.
WILD BERRIES by Julie Flett
I can’t help but to recommend everything Julie Flett makes. Wild Berries is the most recent addition of hers to our library. It’s a beautiful story about a little boy, Clarence, picking berries with his grandmother. The text is written in English and in the n-dialect of the Cree language. You can find a detailed glossary and pronunciation guide at the end of the book (not to mention a recipe for wild blueberry jam).
THE GIRL AND THE WOLF by Katherena Vermette; illustrations by Julie Flett
Katharena Vermette wrote this story as a kind of counter-narrative to the European stories featuring scared little girls and big bad wolves. The wolf in her story is kind and helpful and steers the girl back toward home.
BIRDSONG by Julie Flett
This story of intergenerational friendship is as heart-wrenching as it is beautiful. In a year when so many folks have been forced to spend time away from elderly friends and relatives, it’s a particularly poignant story about the value of those relationships.
WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS by Carole Lindstrom; illustrations by Michaela Goade
This lyrical book was inspired by indigenous-led environmental movements around the world; a perfect hit of inspiration for aspiring activists everywhere.
What about all of you? New or old favorites on your lists?
In case you missed it, last week, The Conscious Kid shared a Patreon post re-upping Ruth Hopkins’s 2019 piece Celebrating Native American Heritage Month: Dos and Don’ts, filled with evergreen reminders for non-native folks to bear in mind this month and always.
We borrow lots of our books from our public library, but when we buy new books, we love to buy directly from our local bookstores—Stories Bookshop, Books Are Magic, Greenlight Bookstore, and Community Bookstore, to name a few. Links above all direct to Bookshop!
More book recommendations in case you need them.
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