This article is a list of 12 Indigenous Children’s Books to add to your library, by an Indigenous reader.
One of the best parts of my job is getting to collaborate with amazing companies like Indigo on campaigns like #indigobooksbeforebed. We were chosen to share our favorite Indigenous children’s books that you will love reading with your children.
I don’t share this as much as I should, but I am an Indigenous woman from an Ojibway tribe in Ontario. Growing up one of my most cherished memories was when my mom read to my sister and me before bed. It was an engaging way to teach us more about our native American heritage, our culture, traditions, and even the story of fry bread. We learned about Nanabush, the Raven who stole the sun and so many others. But one of the most amazing things that make our culture different is the stories we share. They are passed down from generation to generation. This means many of the stories I’ve heard even before the stories were written in the books you see in stores today.
Indigenous Children’s Books We Love
A few days before I wrote this post I went to visit my parents on the reserve. We sat down to share some of our favorite stories and tales by celebrated indigenous writers. But we chatted about other names like Debbie Reese who founded Native American Indians in Children’s Literature, which now advocates and analyzes representations of Indigenous and Native peoples in children’s books and literature. She shaped many of the stories we see today by changing the narratives of many stories written by white writers of native Americans. She advocates against the inaccuracy of fan favorites like Peter Pan and the Little House on the Prarie series because she said it suggests native peoples are no longer present. Accolades have now shaped the way society reads and learns about Indigenous peoples.
This beautiful bedtime poem is the sweetest Inuit story. It was actually written by Celina who is an Inuit throat singer. It’s told by a mother speaking to her little baby Kulu, which is a word that means “your sweet-loving baby”. Penelope loves the animals and seeing the book’s illustrations. I think the book would make a wonderful baby shower gift as well!
This book is one of our other favorites from an Inuit writer. It tells a story of a grandma taking her two grandkids out for a fishing trip on the lake. She shows them how to successfully fish from the clothes they need to wear, how to make the holes and so much more. It’s a great story to read for any child.
This is a story similar to the one my mom used to tell to me as a child. It’s another beautiful story that teaches children about nature and animals. Reading the title you would assume it’s a scary book like Little Red Riding Hood, but it’s not at all! Trust me this one is a favorite of mine.
I recently read this at Indigo one day, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I actually bought it before I wrote this post because I wanted to share a bit more with you. This book is a very important book to read to our children, it tells a story of residential School and it honestly reminds me so much of my grandfather who also went to residential school. There is so much darkness in our Canadian History and this is an important one to read.
Another one of our kid’s books by Indigenous authors that feels very close to home is written by Danielle Daniel. It teaches young children about our Anishinaabe traditions and our totem animals like deer, beaver, and moose. It’s actually one of the books that my cousins helped me choose for this blog post, and I’m so happy we did because it’s a really good read.
I love anything Robert Munch and combined with a talented storyteller like Micheal Kasugak and you get a book as great as this one. I actually remember reading it a few years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. It’s on our list of books to add to our own personal library and I did want to note that this book is also offered in Inuktitut! I love it because it’s important to focus on learning indigenous languages, and I think books do a great job of teaching our young children.
I wanted to include this Cree book, telling of a young girl and her special relationship with her grandfather. It’s another book that hits very close to home and reminds me so much of my relationship with my own grandpa. The deeper meaning behind Stolen Words is the history of residential schools and the intergenerational impact they had on our indigenous peoples.
I had to include this one because I remember not only my mom telling this story but also our Ingenious teachers. I remember sitting in elementary school listening to the stories of the raven, and how cunning and smart he was. Such a good story and I recommend it to anyone who wants to teach their children a bit about our culture and listen to our Ojibway stories.
One of our favorite board books about a baby’s first lullaby. It’s illustrated by Julie Flett and I wish I could take some of those pictures to hang on our wall because they are stunning. Richard shares the Native American “Welcome baby song” in a delightful picture book. It’s a must for young children.
Cynthia Letitch Smith writes about “Native Dating” in a novel about a young native girl who breaks up with her boyfriend after he says some disrespectful stuff about native people. It’s a story that tells of growing pains, prejudice, and navigating high school as a Native teen.
Another wonderful book by Cynthia Letitch Smith, and one that reminds me of dancing at pow wows. It’s a story about a young girl who turns to her family and community to dance in the next pow wow.
The story of Hiawatha, the Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemakers Unity in the 17th century for 5 feuding Iroquois nations. A blueprint for democracy and an important name to remember.
That’s all the books I have for you today, but I hope we have inspired you to add some Indigenous children’s books to your own home libraries! I know our own book list is always growing especially as I find more and more books every time we visit the book store.
We also wanted to say thank you to Indigo Kids for sponsoring this post. I am so grateful to be able to share a little of my own indigenous culture with our readers.
Looking for a list of Indigenous Authors for Adults? Find our own Indigenous book list here.
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