Age 0-3

My Heart Fills with Happiness, 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? International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.

Mama, Do You Love Me? Barbara M. JoosseThis beloved story of a child testing the limits of her independence, and a mother who reassuringly proves that a parents love is unconditional and everlasting is a perfect first book for toddlers.

 

Age 3-5

I am Sacagawea, Brad Meltzer

Part of the Ordinary People Change the World series, this picture book is an excellent introduction for younger readers to Sacagawea
 

Berry Magic, Betty Huffmon

Long ago, the only berries on the tundra were hard, tasteless, little crowberries. As Anana watches the ladies complain bitterly while picking berries for the Fall Festival, she decides to use her magic to help. ""Atsa-ii-yaa (Berry), Atsa-ii-yaa (Berry), Atsaukina!"" (Be a berry!), Anana sings under the full moon turning four dolls into little girls that run and tumble over the tundra creating patches of fat, juicy berries: blueberries, cranberries, salmonberries, and raspberries. The next morning Anana and the ladies fill basket after basket with berries for the Fall Festival. Thanks to Anana, there are plenty of tasty berries for the agutak (Eskimo tee cream) at the festival and forevermore. 

 

Age 5-7

I Sang You Down from the Stars, Tasha Spillet-Sumner

Drawing from the Inniniwak Nation's traditional beliefs that babies choose their parents, this gentle and beautifully illustrated story follows a mother as she prepares the scared bundle that will bring a baby to her family. Published suggested reader age 4-8.

 

Sharice's Big Voice, Sharice Davids with Nancy K. Mays

An inspiring autobiographical picture book by and about US Congresswoman, Sharice Davids, who was one of the first Native American women elected to Congress and the first LGBTQ congressperson to represent Kansas.  The book is illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley, an Obibwe Woodland artist, and is a reminder that a child's "big" voice can become the voice that fights for change.  

 

Wilma's Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller, Doreen Rappaport
This beautiful addition to the Big Words series will inspire future leaders to persevere in empathy and thoughtful problem-solving, reaching beyond themselves to help those around them. Moving prose by award-winning author Doreen Rappaport is interwoven with Wilma’s own words in this expertly researched biography, illustrated with warmth and vivacity by Linda Kukuk.

She Persisted: Maria Tallchief, Christine Day 

In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Christine Day, readers learn about the amazing life of Maria Tallchief--and how she persisted. Maria Tallchief loved to dance, but was told that she might need to change her Osage name to one that sounded more Russian to make it as a professional ballerina. She refused, and worked hard at dancing her best, becoming America's first prima ballerina. Many famous American ballets were created for Maria!

At the Mountain's Base, Traci Sorell

A family, separated by duty and distance, waits for a loved one to return home in this lyrical picture book celebrating the bonds of a Cherokee family and the bravery of history-making women pilots.

 

Jumping Mouse, Misty Schroe

A fresh twist to a Native American legend of friendship and sacrifice. Jumping Mouse is just like another other mouse, except she has a dream--a dream to reach the fabled High Places. But one small mouse can't make the long journey alone. At the start of her journey, Jumping Mouse is gifted new long legs from wise Grandfather Frog. Filled with gratitude, she soon meets others who need assistance just like she did: a buffalo that cannot see and a wolf that cannot smell. In order to aid them, she must sacrifice her own sight and hearing, putting her dream of the High Places at risk. Through perseverance and belief, Jumping Mouse discovers who she was truly meant to be, and demonstrates the value of friendship, selflessness, and sacrifice.

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, Paul Goble

"There was a girl in the village who loved horses... She led the horses to drink at the river. She spoke softly and they followed. People noticed that she understood horses in a special way." And so begins the story of a young Native American girl devoted to the care of her tribe's horses. 

The Legend of the Bluebonnet, Tomie dePaola

This favorite legend based on Comanche Indian lore, tells the story of how the bluebonnet came to be. Tomie dePaola's powerful retelling and his magnificent full-color paintings perfectly capture the Comanche People, the Texas hills, and the spirit of She-Who-Is-Alone, a little girl who made a sacrifice to save her tribe.

How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend, Jerrie Oughton

This retelling of a Navajo folktale explains how First Woman tried to write the laws of the land using stars in the sky, only to be thwarted by the trickster Coyote.

Frog Girl, Paul Owen Lewis

The grandmother frog wants her missing children back, so a Northwest Coast Indian girl must set them free before the volcano erupts, in a tale based on Native legends. 

The Water Protectors, Carole Lindstrom

Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth's water from harm and corruption--a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade.

 

Age 7-11

Sacajawea: Her True Story, Joyce Milton 
More than 200 years ago, explorers went on a journey to the Pacific Ocean. With the help of a young American Indian girl, the trip was a success. Her name was Sacajawea. This level 4 Penguin Younger Readers book is warmly illustrated and is sure to inspire young readers. 

Red Bird Songs: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Gina Capaldi & Q. L. Pearce

Gertrude Simmons, also known by her Yankton Sioux name, Zitkala-Sa, was one of the most important Native American reformers of the early 20th century.  The story of how Zitkala-Sa learned to "sing" to help her people is sure to inspire.  As an an adult, she worked as an activist for Native American rights, seeking to build a bridge between cultures.
 

Who is Maria Tallchief? Catherine Gourley 

This engaging biography tells the story of the Osage girl who moved beyond culture and tradition to become America's first major prima ballerina. 

Buffalo Bird Girl, S. D. Nelson

This fascinating picture book biography of the Hidatsa woman Buffalo Bird Woman, who was born around 1839, depicts life in a Hidatsa village.  

Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, Cornelia Cornelissen

It all begins when Soft Rain's teacher reads a letter stating that as of May 23, 1838, all Cherokee people are to leave their land and move to what many Cherokees called the land of darkness. . .the west. Soft Rain is confident that her family will not have to move, because they have just planted corn for the next harvest but soon thereafter, soldiers arrive to take nine-year-old, Soft Rain, and her mother to walk the Trail of Tears, leaving the rest of her family behind.

I Am Not a Number, Jenny Kay Dupius & Kathy Kacer

When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene's parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis' grandmother, I Am Not a Number is a hugely necessary book that brings a terrible part of Canada's history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.

Mary and the Trail of Tears: A Cherokee Removal Survival Story, Andrea L. Rogers

Twelve-year-old Mary and her Cherokee family are forced out of their home in Georgia by U.S. soldiers in May 1838. From the beginning of the forced move, Mary and her family are separated from her father. Facing horrors such as internment, violence, disease, and harsh weather, Mary perseveres and helps keep her family and friends together until they can reach the new Cherokee nation in Indian Territory. Featuring nonfiction support material, a glossary, and reader response questions, this Girls Survive story explores the tragedy of forced removals following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

I Can Make This Promise, Christine Day 

In her debut middle grade novel—inspired by her family’s history—Christine Day tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family’s secrets—and finds her own Native American identity. An enlightening and powerful novel that explores discrimination, adoption and cultural identity. 

Fatty Legs: A True Story, Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

In the late 19th and early 20th century, residential schools were formed in the US and Canada to "assimilate" children - what Canada's Assembly of First Nations has called "killing the Indian in the child".  This book is a powerful and inspiring story of an Inuvialuit girl standing up to the bullies of residential school. 

A Stranger At Home: A True Story, Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton 

In the sequel to Fatty Legs, this book tackles life after residential schooling and also portrays Margaret's optimism and determination, as well as the valuable lessons she learns about being true to her heritage and herself. 

The Birchbark House, Louise Erdrich 

Set in the Lake Superior region in the mid-1800s, The Birchbark House is a vital novel providing fascinating details of a year in the life of young Omakayas, a girl of the Ojibwa.  As each season in a year of Omakayas' life is lovingly portrayed, the satisfying rhythm of her days is shattered when a stranger visits the lodge one night, bringing with him an invisible enemy that will change things forever. 

 

Age 11-14

 

The Flight of Red Bird: The Life of Zitkala-Sa, Doreen Rappaport

Writer, lecturer, activist Gertrude Bonnin, also known as Zitkala-Sa, was one of the first and most important Native American reformers of the early twentieth century. Her powerful and memorable story, told in her own words from letters and diaries, will inspire anyone who has ever dreamed of making a difference.

Who Was Sacagawea? Judith Bloom Fradin & Dennis Brindell Fradin

An engaging biography about 16 year old Sacagawea, the young Shoshone woman who acted as a guide, interpreter and peacemaker for explorers Lewis and Clark in 1804.  

Native Women of Courage, Kelly Fournel 

This book features ten Native American women, both past and present, who have broken new ground and raised awareness about Native American indigenous cultures. 

Pocahontas, Joseph Bruchac

Historically accurate and vividly told, this is the true story of Pocahontas, the 11 year old Powhatan chief's daughter. 

Sacajawea, Joseph Bruchac

Authentic telling by an American Book Award winner and winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Writers Circle of The Americas.  The story of Sacajawea is told in chapters which alternate between Sacajawea and William Clark's perspective. 

Marooned in the Arctic: The True Story of Ada Blackjack, Peggy Caravantes

In 1921, four men ventured into the Arctic for a top-secret expedition: an attempt to claim uninhabited Wrangel Island in northern Siberia for Great Britain. With the men was a young Inuit woman named Ada Blackjack, who had signed on as cook and seamstress to earn money to care for her sick son. Conditions soon turned dire for the team when they were unable to kill enough game to survive. Three of the men tried to cross the frozen Chukchi Sea for help but were never seen again, leaving Ada with one remaining team member who soon died of scurvy. Determined to be reunited with her son, Ada learned to survive alone in the icy world by trapping foxes, catching seals, and avoiding polar bears.  This book tells Blackjack's story, complete with historical photos and details about aspects of Inuit culture and beliefs. 

Mary and the Trail of Tears: A Cherokee Removal Survival Story, Andrea L. Rogers

Twelve-year-old Mary and her Cherokee family are forced out of their home in Georgia by U.S. soldiers in May 1838. From the beginning of the forced move, Mary and her family are separated from her father. Facing horrors such as internment, violence, disease, and harsh weather, Mary perseveres and helps keep her family and friends together until they can reach the new Cherokee nation in Indian Territory. Featuring nonfiction support material, a glossary, and reader response questions, this Girls Survive story explores the tragedy of forced removals following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

 

I Can Make This Promise, Christine Day 

In her debut middle grade novel—inspired by her family’s history—Christine Day tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family’s secrets—and finds her own Native American identity. An enlightening and powerful novel that explores discrimination, adoption and cultural identity.

The Ugly One, Leanne Statland Ellis

Micay has a deep scar that runs like a river from her right eye to her lip. The boys in her Incan village bully her because of it, and most of the adults ignore her. So she keeps to herself and tries to hide the scar with her long hair, drawing comfort from her family and her faith in the Sun God, Inti. Then a stranger traveling from his jungle homeland to the Sacred Sun City at Machu Picchu gives her a baby macaw, and the path of her life changes. Perhaps she isn’t destined to be the Ugly One forever. Vivid storytelling and rich details capture the life and landscape of the Incan Empire as seen through the eyes of a young girl who is an outsider among her own people.

Blue Birds, Caroline Starr Rose

It’s 1587 and twelve-year-old Alis has made the long journey with her parents from England to help settle the New World, the land christened Virginia in honor of the Queen. And Alis couldn’t be happier. While the streets of London were crowded and dirty, this new land, with its trees and birds and sky, calls to Alis. Here she feels free. But the land, the island Roanoke, is also inhabited by the Roanoke tribe and tensions between them and the English are running high, soon turning deadly. Amid the strife, Alis meets and befriends Kimi, a Roanoke girl about her age. Though the two don’t even speak the same language, these girls form a special bond as close as sisters, willing to risk everything for the other. Finally, Alis must make an impossible choice when her family resolves to leave the island and bloodshed behind.

Morning Girl, Michael Dorris

Through the alternating voices of 12-year-old Morning Girl and her younger brother Star Boy, we step into the extraordinarily rich lives of an indigenous family on a Bahamian Island in 1492, just as their paradise is about to be discovered and a new world order begins to take shape. 

Age 14-16

Fighter in Velvet Gloves, Annie Boochever & Roy Peratrovich Jnr
"No Natives or Dogs Allowed," blared the storefront sign at Elizabeth Peratrovich, then a young Alaska Native Tlingit. The sting of those words would stay with her all her life. Years later, after becoming a seasoned fighter for equality, she would deliver her own powerful message: one that helped change Alaska and the nation forever. In 1945, Peratrovich stood before the Alaska Territorial Legislative Session and gave a powerful speech about her childhood and her experiences being treated as a second-class citizen. Her heartfelt testimony led to the passing of the landmark Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act, America's first civil rights legislation. Today, Alaska celebrates Elizabeth Peratrovich Day every February 16, and she will be honored on the gold one-dollar coin in 2020. Annie Boochever worked with Elizabeth's eldest son, Roy Peratrovich Jr., to bring Elizabeth's story to life in the first book written for young teens on this remarkable Alaska Native woman.

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale 

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.