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Mendo Lake Family Life

9 Picture Books About Native Americans

Want a fun way to teach kids about Native Americans? Try picture books! These award-winning volumes, most of which are by Native American authors and illustrators, share stories, ceremonies, and perspectives of several different Native peoples.

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Roaring Book Press, 2019). Ages 2–6. Winner of the 2020 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal and also a 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor award, this story is not just about a Native staple food, but also about modern Native identity. 

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade (Roaring Book Press, 2020). Ages 3–8. This 2021 Caldecott winner, authored by an Anishinaabe/Métis writer and illustrated by a Tlingit artist, is a powerful, poetic call to steward the Earth’s resources.

Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, and Alexis Bunten and illustrated by Garry Meeches Sr. (Charlesbridge, 2022). Ages 3–7. Written and illustrated by Native authors, this book retells the Thanksgiving story from the point of view of the Wampanoag people, focusing on how, without Weeâchumun (corn), the Wampanoag would not have been able to help the Pilgrims.

Native American Stories for Kids by Tom Pecore Weso (Rockridge Press, 2022). Ages 6–9. A Menominee writer offers tales from 12 different tribes indigenous to America, including historical information about each tribe at the end of every story.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge, 2018). Ages 3–7. The Cherokee author explains the importance of gratitude (otsaliheliga) in her culture as she weaves descriptions of different foods, crafts, and ceremonies into the story. A 2019 Silbert Honor Book, it includes a glossary and Cherokee syllabary.

Powwow Day by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight (Charlesbridge, 2022). Ages 3–8. This uplifting book teaches kids about powwows as it tells the tale of River, a little girl whose illness may keep her from dancing in her community. 

We Are Still Here by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge, 2021). Ages 7–10. This 2022 American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor Book features the voices of 12 Native American youth, who talk about the historical and contemporary laws and policies that have affected Native American life. 

Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child and illustrated by Jonathan Thunder (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2018). Ages 3–7. An award-winning, playful story about the imaginative Windy Girl, the stories and traditions she learns from Uncle, and their visit to a powwow with Windy’s dog, Itchy Boy. Gordon Jourdain provides a companion Ojibwe translation. 

Birdsong by Julie Flett (Greystone Kids, 2019). Ages 3–8. A Cree-Métis author/illustrator weaves this tale about a friendship between a lonely girl and an elderly woman artist. The book, which Kirkus Reviews calls “emotionally stunning,” was declared the Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, Horn Book, Quill & Quire, and Globe and Mail.