Native American Heritage Month is a celebration of the traditions, beliefs, customs, and culture of the indigenous communities that literally formed the foundation of our nation. There is much to reflect on and learn about when it comes to the Native American historical experience in the United States, and much to celebrate and acknowledge when honoring the contributions of Native communities and individuals today. This month, we offer a list of wonderful books written by Native authors in the hope that you will use it as a starting point to celebrate during the month of November and beyond.
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie (K - 4th gr.)
Thunder Boy Smith, Jr. is named after his father. Also known as Little Thunder, the boy spurns his given name. He wants a unique name, one that reflects the amazing person he is! Can his beloved father find the perfect solution that will make his son happy, but also keep his family ties true?
The Powwow Dog by Joseph Bruchac (1st - 4th gr.)
Jamie and Marie Longbow have a mystery to solve. Someone is stealing food from the Powwow, and the rumor is that a ghost dog might be the culprit. When the trail leads to an eerie abandoned house, the two young detectives have to gather a lot of courage to continue pursuing the case.
This is a combination picture book/graphic novel/short chapter book -- a good fit for many types of readers.
Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child (K - 3rd gr.)
Join Windy Girl as she experiences the joy, tradition and excitement of a powwow -- but the fun isn’t over when the night ends, because Windy Girl’s imagination will take the adventure even further as she dreams of a bowwow powwow where the participants are all dogs. What fun!
We Are Water Protectors by Carol Lindstrom (K - 3rd gr.)
2021 Caldecott Award Winner
Told in lyrical writing and including beautiful illustrations, this book shares a story that is based on the environmental movement and actions of many Indigenous people -- the desperate quest to defend one of our most precious natural elements: Water.
Fry Bread: a Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (PreK - 2nd gr.)
Charming, heartwarming, delightful, multi-layered, award winning . . . I could go on and on about this wonderful book! On the surface, it is a book about bread. But it is also about culture. And history. And time. And art. And family. And so much more.
At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell (K - 3rd gr.)
At the base of a particular mountain, you can find a beautiful hickory tree. Underneath this tree is a lovely little cabin. In this cabin lives a tight-knit family. In this Cherokee family, there is one member missing. Under this one roof, multiple generations of women wait for the return of their warrior relative, a woman of strength and courage, who fights and sacrifices as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.
Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith (3rd- 6th gr.)
FICTION ANCESTOR (SHORT STORIES)
Sharing a common setting (a Native American Dance for Mother Earth Powwow celebration in Ann Arbor, Michigan), this book contains a variety of short stories and poems by a lauded group of Native writers presenting tales representing a number of tribal communities. A terrific anthology.
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day (3rd- 7th gr.)
Based on the author’s own experience, this story focuses on 12-year-old Edie who is enjoying a carefree summer until she happens upon some old photographs and letters in her parents attic that lead her to uncover her family’s tragic past, and teaches her the importance of connecting to her Native American heritage.
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley (2nd- 4th gr.)
Jo Jo is a young Ojibwe girl who is confident, silly and highly entertaining. This happy-go-lucky child does have problems though -- mostly with friends. Her best home friend is a cat who needs shots, and Jo Jo is a bit nervous about what effect that will have on the feline. In addition, her best school friend is not acting very friendly. With Amelia Bedelia style misunderstandings and plenty of laughs, readers will find that everything turns out alright in the end!
Last Modified January 25, 2022