Books & Beyond

Celebrating Native American Heritage with Picture Books

By Anna B, Isaac F, and Lisa T.
October 14, 2022

Within the pages of these books, you will find diverse perspectives on the contemporary Indigenous experience.  With over 500 Federally recognized  American Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages, there is not a single Native American story, rather there are many stories. 

I Sang You Down From the Stars by Tasha Spillett-Sumner; illustrated by Michaela Goade.
As she waits for the arrival of her new baby, a mother-to-be gathers gifts that will offer her new baby connection to tradition and family. 

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole Nation, McKusukey band)
xplores Native American heritage, dispels stereotypes, and depicts contemporary Indian family life and culture through the lens of fry bread.

We All Play by Julie Flett (Cree-Metis)
This beautiful book celebrates playtime and the connection between children and the natural world in Cree and English.

When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt (Diné)
Spare illustrations and text remind us that when we are kind, we are grateful and aware of our interconnectedness.

Bow Wow Pow Wow by Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe)
Join Windy Girl and her dog, Itchy boy, as they attend a powwow, where they watch the dancers, eat tasty foods, and join family and friends around the campfire.

First Laugh: Welcome, Baby!  by Rose Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood; illustrated by Jonathan Nelson.
A Navaho family welcomes a new baby into the family with love and ceremony, eagerly waiting for that first special laugh.

Johnny’s Pheasant by Cheryl Minema (Ojibwe), illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Metis)
Johnny spies a pheasant which he believes is sleeping and his Grandma fears is dead, but they learn they were both wrong when the pheasant departs, leaving behind a gift.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
Inspired by indigenous-led movements across North America, this book calls upon us to protect and respect our earth and water.

Buffalo Wild by Deidre Havrelock.
Declan longs to see real Buffalo. Then one magical night, herds of the majestic creatures stampede down from the sky. That’s when things really get wild!

Classified: the Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell.

Mary Golda Ross designed classified projects for Lockheed Air Corporation as the company’s first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.

First Blade of Sweetgrass  by Suzanne Greenlaw.
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.

Go Show the World: a Celebration of Indigenous Heroes by Wab Kinew.
Using rhyming lyrics from a previously written rap song, Midewin author, Manitoba politician, and creator Kinew tells the stories of diverse Indigenous heroes both historical and contemporary from the U.S. and Canada.

Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan.
A heartening read-aloud about a day in the life of Little Bird, who sings the world alive, flies with Cloud, travels with Wind, nestles with Moon, and dreams of flying among the stars.

Look, Grandma! Ni, Elisi!  by Art Coulson.
Bo wants to find the perfect container to show off his traditional marbles for the Cherokee National Holiday in this exploration of volume and capacity.

Powwow Day by Traci Sorell; illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight
Because she has been very ill and weak, River cannot join in the dancing at this year’s tribal powwow, she can only watch from the sidelines as her sisters and cousins dance the celebration–but as the drum beats she finds the faith to believe that she will recover and dance again.

Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation by  Alice B. McGinty

Cody is worried when his family on a New Mexico Navajo reservation runs out of water, but Darlene Arviso, called “The Water Lady,” is on the way with her tanker truck.