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Native American Children’s Books

Nov 07, 2019    |   Celebrating DiversityChildren’s Books

November is Native American heritage month, and a perfect time to introduce literature to young children that celebrates Native American culture and traditions. While we often think of the Native American people around the Thanksgiving holiday, this month allows us an opportunity to have deeper conversations with young children and create a more honest understanding of the rich and vibrant Native American culture.

There are some wonderful books for young children with Native American-themed stories that can be enjoyed year-round. We describe some of them and list them by age group below.

Books for Infants & Toddlers

My Heart Fills with Happiness

What fills your heart with happiness? This book, written by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Julie Flett, helps to remind us about the importance of gratitude, through a look into the culture of an indigenous family. This book is available as a board book to be enjoyed by the youngest readers.

Sweetest Kulu 

This story, written by Celina Kalluk and illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis, is read as a bedtime poem that describes gifts given to a newborn baby. This beautifully illustrated book is infused with traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants.

Baby Learns About Seasons 

This book, by Jessie Eve Ruffenach, explores the changing of the seasons with both English and Navajo text. This simple story is perfect for young learners who are interested in the changing of the seasons, while also exposing them to some basic words from a new language.

Books for Preschoolers

We Are Grateful 

Written by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frane Lessac, this story is the winner of several awards. The story is perfect for reading around the Thanksgiving holiday and for encouraging children to reflect, as the author describes what members of the Cherokee Nation are grateful for in each season.

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story 

This book, written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal uses colorful, heartfelt illustrations to show the diversity in Native America, and to  promote unity and familiarity among nations. The story shows how fry bread is part of a special cultural tradition and celebration.

Berry Magic 

Written by Teri Sloat and illustrated by Betty Huffmon, this story tells of a young girl and her “magic” as she brings her dolls to life to help find berries for a Fall festival. The book includes Yup’ik culture and native language, with vibrant colors and illustrations to keep young children engaged.

Books for Children in Pre-K

I am Sacagawea 

This story is written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos as part of the Ordinary People Change the World series. The book shares the important and inspiring story of Sacagawea as she joins Lewis and Clark on their journey from Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean in the early 1800s.

Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina

This story is written by Maria Tallchief  and Rosemary Wells, with illustrations by Gary Kelley. Maria Tallchief is a well-known dancer who changed classical ballet in America. This story tells about her childhood and the challenges she faced in her journey to becoming the famous dancer that she is today.


The Legend of the Bluebonnet 

Written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, this book tells the story of a Comanche girl who worries about her community when it is hit with a drought. This beautifully illustrated story of Texas bluebonnets also includes an important and inspiring message about bravery and sacrifice, and how one person has the power to make a significant difference.

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