Below are books for children and teens by and about people with indigenous heritage from the Americas.
All Around Us by Xelena Gonzalez
Circles are all around us. We just have to look for them. Sometimes they exist in the most unusual places.
Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt
During an unfortunate mishap, young Awâsis loses Kôhkum’s freshly baked world-famous bannock. Not knowing what to do, Awâsis seeks out a variety of other-than-human relatives willing to help.
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. Can the girl navigate the changing seasons and failing health of her new friend?
Chukfi Rabbit’s Big, Bad Bellyache by Greg Rodgers
Deep in Choctaw Country, Chukfi Rabbit is always figuring out some way to avoid work at all costs. When Bear, Turtle, Fox, and Beaver agree on an everybody-work-together day to build Ms. Possum a new house, Chukfi Rabbit says he’s too busy to help. Until he hears there will be a feast to eat after the work is done.
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Dreamers is a celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. It’s the story of finding your way in a new place, of navigating an unfamiliar world and finding the best parts of it.
First Laugh by Nancy Bo Flood
In Navajo families, the first person to make a new baby laugh hosts the child’s First Laugh Ceremony. Who will earn the honor in this story?
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard
Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family.
Little You / Nîya-K’apisîsisîyân by Richard Van Camp
Richard Van Camp, internationally renowned storyteller and bestselling author of the hugely successful Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns, has partnered with award-winning illustrator Julie Flett to create a tender board book for babies and toddlers that celebrates the potential of every child.
When Molly plans a birthday surprise, a moose gets in the way! Can Molly’s quick thinking save the day?
Molly can’t wait to help her scientist friends study baby cranes. They head out into the wilderness to put bands on the baby cranes’ legs, so they can keep track of where the cranes go. But every time they get close, the baby cranes get scared away. Molly makes an emergency call to Grandpa Nat to come up with a solution!
My Heart Fills With Happiness / Ni Mîyawâten Niteh Ohcih by Monique Gray Smith
The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful book serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.
The Star People by S. D. Nelson
A grandmother’s love is forever in this mystical story of remembrance and tradition, Sister Girl and her brother, Young Wolf, wander far from their village and face great danger, including stampeding animals and a wall of fire. The children barely save themselves, and as night approaches, they find themselves alone in the barren and unforgiving wilderness.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences.
When Turtle Grew Feathers by Tim Tingle
When Rabbit boastfully challenges Turtle to a race, he gets his comeuppance and Turtle gets a little assist from his winged friend, Turkey. In the process, we learn why Turtle’s shell is cracked and why you never see Rabbit racing Turtle today.
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.
Chapter Books & Illustrated Titles
Bearwalker by Joseph Bruchac
As a member of the Mohawk Bear Clan, Baron has always been fascinated by bears-their gentle strength and untamed power. But the Bearwalker legend, passed down by his ancestors, tells of a different kind of creature-a terrible mix of human and animal that looks like a bear but is really a bloodthirsty monster. The tale never seemed to be more than a scary story. Until now.
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
Omakayas and her family live on the land her people call the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. Although the “chimookoman,” white people, encroach more and more on their land, life continues much as it always has. But the satisfying rhythms of their life are shattered when a visitor comes to their lodge on winter night, bringing with him an invisible enemy that will change things forever-but that will eventually lead Omakayas to discover her calling.
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh
Funny Bones tells the story of how the amusing calaveras – skeletons performing various every day or festive activities – came to be. They are the creation of Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada (1852–1913). They have become synonymous with Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival.
Hiawatha And The Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson
Hiawatha was a strong Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message not only succeeded in uniting the tribes but also forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves-a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution.
I Can Make This Promise by Christina Day
All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers. Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic-a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall
Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy. When he embarks on a journey with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, he learns more and more about his Lakota heritage—in particular, the story of Crazy Horse, one of the most important figures in Lakota and American history.
Night Wings by Joseph Bruchac
Paul has always believed in the power of dreams. He knows that they are often warnings. Warnings that should be taken very seriously. Now his nightmare visions of a predatory winged creature are becoming all too real. And though Paul has always depended on the wisdom of his Abenaki ancestors’ stories to guide his footsteps, no monster tale could have prepared him for what he is about to encounter.
The Princess And The Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh
Princess Izta had many wealthy suitors but dismissed them all. When a mere warrior, Popoca, promised to be true to her and stay always by her side, Izta fell in love. The emperor promised Popoca if he could defeat their enemy Jaguar Claw, then Popoca and Izta could wed. When Popoca was near to defeating Jaguar Claw, his opponent sent a messenger to Izta saying Popoca was dead. Izta fell into a deep sleep and, upon his return, even Popoca could not wake her. As promised Popoca stayed by her side. So two volcanoes were formed: Iztaccíhuatl, who continues to sleep, and Popocatépetl, who spews ash and smoke, trying to wake his love.
Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection by Matt Dembicki
In Native American traditions, the trickster takes many forms, from coyote or rabbit to raccoon or raven. The first graphic anthology of Native American trickster tales, Trickster brings together Native American folklore and the world of comics. In Trickster, 24 Native storytellers were paired with 24 comic artists, telling cultural tales from across America.
When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson
When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things about her grandmother that make her curious. As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where everything was taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history and, ultimately, a story of empowerment and strength.
1493 for Young People: From Columbus’s Voyage to Globalization: For Young People by Charles Mann
1493 for Young People by Charles C. Mann tells the gripping story of globalization through travel, trade, colonization, and migration from its beginnings in the fifteenth century to the present.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people. In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.
Dreaming In Indian Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
Truly universal in its themes, Dreaming In Indian will shatter commonly held stereotypes and challenge readers to rethink their own place in the world. Divided into four sections, ‘Roots,’ ‘Battles,’ ‘Medicines,’ and ‘Dreamcatchers,’ this book offers readers a unique insight into a community often misunderstood and misrepresented by the mainstream media. Emerging and established Native artists contribute thoughtful and heartfelt pieces on their experiences growing up Indigenous.
Gabi, A Girl In Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.
Hearts Unbroken by 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. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
Juliet Milagros Palante is a self-proclaimed closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx. Only, she’s not so closeted anymore. Not after coming out to her family the night before flying to Portland, Oregon, to intern with her favorite feminist writer, Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff, who is sure to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. Except Harlowe’s white. And not from the Bronx. And she definitely doesn’t have all the answers . . .
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Spanning more than 400 years, this classic bottom-up history examines the legacy of Indigenous peoples’ resistance, resilience, and steadfast fight against imperialism.
Going beyond the story of America as a country “discovered” by a few brave men in the “New World,” Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity.
My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Luke knows his Iñupiaq name is full of sounds white people can’t say. So he leaves it behind when he and his brothers are sent to boarding school hundreds of miles away from their Arctic village. At Sacred Heart School, students—Eskimo, Indian, White—line up on different sides of the cafeteria like there’s some kind of war going on. Here, speaking Iñupiaq—or any native language—is forbidden. And Father Mullen, whose fury is like a force of nature, is ready to slap down those who disobey.
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women Edited by Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale
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. #Not Your Princess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine 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. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
When superstar athlete Jim Thorpe and football legend Pop Warner met in 1904 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, they forged one of the winningest teams in American football history. But this is not just an underdog story. It’s an unflinching look at the persecution of Native Americans and its intersection with the beginning of one of the most beloved―and exploitative―pastimes in America.