Indigenous Peoples of North America for Kids

Indigenous Peoples of North America for Kids

Read these outstanding titles to understand the past and present experiences of Indigenous peoples in North America.

Compiled by:
Ellen A.

Juvenile Graphic Novels

Navajo Code Talkers: Top Secret Messengers of World War II

B.A. Hoena
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J-GN 940.5486 Hoe)

Describes the creation of the top secret Navajo code during World War II and its use in several major battles of the war.

Picture Books

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Kevin Noble Maillard
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Mai)

As children help a Native American grandmother make fry bread, delves into the history, social ways, foodways, and politics of America's 573 recognized Indian tribes.

Shin-chi's Canoe

Nicola I. Campbell
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Cam)

Forced to use only their English names and not speak to their siblings at school, Shinchi holds fast to the tiny canoe given to him by his father and looks forward to the day when the salmon return to the river, hopeful that things will then improve for his family and the tribe he loves. 

Stolen Words

Melanie Florence
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Flo)

A little girl sets out to help her grandfather discover the Cree language that was stolen from him when he was sent away to residential school as a boy.

Thunder Boy Jr.

Sherman Alexie
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Ale)

Little Thunder wants a name that separates him from his father, Big Thunder, and considers such options as "Touch the Sky" and "Drums, Drums, and More Drums" before his father helps him find the perfect alternative.

We Are Water Protectors

Carole Lindstrom
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Lin)

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.

When We Were Alone

David Robertson
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Rob)

Helping her grandmother tend her garden, a young girl asks her First Nations forebear why she wears bright colors and has long hair, so her grandmother tells her about her youth in a residential school where all of these things were taken away.

Wild Berries = Pikaci-Minisa

Julie Flett
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Fle)

Clarence, a young Cree Indian, and his grandmother pick blueberries together as they sing, look out for the animals, and enjoy sampling the fruit

Graphic Novels

Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection

Matt Dembicki
- editor
(Graphic Novels -GN Trickster Native American Tales)

In Trickster, 24 Native storytellers were paired with 24 comic artists, telling cultural tales from across America. Ranging from serious and dramatic to funny and sometimes downright fiendish, these tales bring tricksters back into popular culture.

Juvenile Fiction

The Birchbark House

Louise Erdrich
(Juvenile Fiction - J Erdrich)
Series: Birchbark House; 1

Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom

Tim Tingle
(Juvenile Fiction - J Tingle)

In the 1800s, a Choctaw girl becomes friends with a slave boy from a plantation across the great river, and when she learns that his family is in trouble, she helps them cross to freedom.

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker

Robbie Robertson
(Juvenile Fiction - J Roberts)

Hiawatha, a Mohawk, is plotting revenge for the murder of his family by the evil Onondaga Chief, Tadodaho, when he meets the Great Peacemaker, who enlists his help in bringing the nations together to share his vision of a new way of life marked by peace, love, and unity rather than war, hate, and fear.

How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story

Tim Tingle
(Juvenile Fiction - J Tingle)
Series: How I Became a Ghost; 1

A Choctaw boy tells the story of his tribe's removal from the only land its people had ever known, and how their journey to Oklahoma led him to become a ghost--one with the ability to help those he left behind.

I Am Not a Number

Jenny Kay Dupuis
(Juvenile Fiction - J Dupuis)

A young First Nations girl is sent away to a residential school and is determined not to forget who she is and where she came from. 

I Can Make This Promise

Christine Day
(Juvenile Fiction - J Day)

In a story based on the author’s real-life experiences, a girl uncovers a secret that connects her to her Native American heritage, throwing everything she believes about her family into question. 

Race to the Sun

Rebecca Roanhorse
(Juvenile Fiction - J Roanhor)

Guided by her Navajo ancestors, seventh-grader Nizhoni Begay discovers she is descended from a holy woman and destined to become a monsterslayer, starting with the evil businessman who kidnapped her father. Includes glossary of Navajo terms.

Salt : A Story of Friendship in a Time of War

Helen Frost
(Juvenile Fiction - J Frost)

A novel in verse about two 12-year-old boys—a Miami tribe member and the son of traders—explores how their early 19th-century friendship was tested by rising tensions between Fort Wayne armies and Native Americans who sought to protect their homeland.

Talking Leaves

Joseph Bruchac
(Juvenile Fiction - J Bruchac)

Thirteen-year-old Uwohali is worried by his father's obsession with making markings that cause tribe members to suspect him of witchcraft, in a reimagining of the creation of the Cherokee alphabet.

Juvenile Nonfiction

Bowwow Powwow

Brenda J. Child
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 497.333 Chi)

This playful story by Brenda Child is accompanied by a companion retelling in Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain and brought to life by Jonathan Thunder's vibrant dreamscapes. The result is a powwow tale for the ages.

Encyclopedia of American Indian History & Culture: Stories, Time Lines, Maps, and More

Cynthia O'Brien
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 970.0049 Obr)

A redesigned edition of the authoritative, highly visual student reference provides biographical portraits of important Native Americans as well as historical and cultural overviews of more than 160 North American Native tribes.

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People

Debbie Reese
(Adult Nonfiction - 970.0049 Ree)

Examines the legacy of Indigenous peoples' resistance, resilience, and fight against imperialism in the United States, revealing the roles that colonialism and American policies played in forming a national identity.

The People Shall Continue

Simon J. Ortiz
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 970.0049 Ort)

Republished for its fortieth anniversary, this powerful story by renowned Acoma Pueblo poet and storyteller Simon J. Ortiz traces the history of Native/Indigenous people of North America from the time of creation to the present.

The Standing Rock Sioux Challenge the Dakota Access Pipeline

Clara MacCarald
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 970.0049 Mac)

Explores the history, events, and aftermath of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Through insightful text, "In Their Own Words" special features, and critical thinking questions, this title will introduce readers to a modern example of social activism.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Traci Sorell
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 970.3 Cherokee Sor)

Otsaliheliga is a Cherokee word that is used to express gratitude. Journey through the year with a Cherokee family and their tribal nation as they express thanks for celebrations big and small. A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal

Eldon Yellowhorn
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 970.0049 Yel)

What do people do when their civilization is invaded? Indigenous people have been faced with disease, war, broken promises, and forced assimilation. Despite crushing losses and insurmountable challenges, they formed new nations from the remnants of old ones, they adopted new ideas and built on them, they fought back, and they kept their cultures alive.