Teacher & Librarian Resources
for Children's and YA Books
with Native Themes


Kids Guide to Native American History


Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Arlene Hirschfelder on the release of A Kid's Guide to Native American History: More than 50 Activities (Chicago Review Press, 2009)!

From the promotional copy:

"Hands-on activities, games, and crafts introduce children to the diversity of Native American cultures and teach them about the people, experiences, and events that have helped shape America, past and present.

"Nine geographical areas cover a variety of communities like the Mohawk in the Northeast, Ojibway in the Midwest, Shoshone in the Great Basin, Apache in the Southwest, Yupik in Alaska, and Native Hawaiians, among others. Lives of historical and contemporary notable individuals like Chief Joseph and Maria Tallchief are featured, and the book is packed with a variety of topics like first encounters with Europeans, Indian removal, Mohawk sky walkers, and Navajo code talkers.

"Readers travel Native America through activities that highlight the arts, games, food, clothing, and unique celebrations, language, and life ways of various nations. Kids can make Haudensaunee corn husk dolls, play Washoe stone jacks, design Inupiat sun goggles, or create a Hawaiian Ma’o-hauhele bag. A time line, glossary, and recommendations for Web sites, books, movies, and museums round out this multicultural guide."

American Indians AMERICAN INDIANS: STEREOTYPES & REALITIES by Devon A. Mihesuah (Clarity Press, 1997). Valuable overview—deconstructs and re-educates, especially recommended to teachers, but also a good fit for young adults. Ages 12-up.

AMERICAN INDIAN STEREOTYPES IN THE WORLD OF CHILDREN: A READER AND BIBLIOGRAPHY by Arlene Hirschfelder, Paulette Fairbanks Molin (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe from the White Earth Reservation), and Yvonne Wakin (Cherokee/Arab) (Scarecrow, 1999). Notably Chapter 5 is Reading is Fundamental for Truths or Stereotypes. Look for second (1999) edition.

A BROKEN FLUTE: THE NATIVE EXPERIENCE IN BOOKS FOR CHILDREN by Doris Seale and Beverly Slapin (AltaMira Press, 2005). “[A] book of reviews, critically evaluating childrens books about Native Americans, along with stories, essays, and poems from its contributors. This book will be a valuable resource for community and educational organizations, and a key reference for public and school libraries, and Native American collections.”

HOW TO TEACH ABOUT AMERICAN INDIANS: A GUIDE FOR THE SCHOOL LIBRARY MEDIA SPECIALIST by Karen D. Harvey with Lisa D. Harjo (Choctaw) and Lynda Welborn (Greenwood, 1995). Recommended to both school librarians and teachers.

NATIVE AMERICA IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA edited by Mary B. Davis with assistant editors Joan Berman, Mary E. Graham, and Lisa A. Mitten (Mohawk) (Garland, 1994). A vast collection of articles, forty percent of which are by Native people, address a variety of topics such as BIA schools, art, health, individual Native Nations, supplemented by bibliographies, maps, and photographs. Although the hard cover is expensive for non-institutional buyers, the paperback is a bargain to all. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

NATIVE AMERICANS TODAY: RESOURCES AND ACTIVITIES FOR EDUCATORS GRADES 4-8 by Arlene Hirschfelder and Yvonne Beamer Wakim (Cherokee-Arab) (Libraries Unlimited, 2000). Wakim has worked in Indian education and community services for more than 25 years. Hirschfelder has written numerous non-fiction books on Native people and has worked for the Association on American Indian Affairs for more than 20 years. A growing number of forward-thinking teachers and librarians are integrating contemporary depictions of Native peoples into their school and public library curriculums. This book offers them a resource for activities. I hope Teacher Ideas Press will consider publishing more volumes with activities for grades K-3 and grades 8-up.

RED ON RED: NATIVE AMERICAN LITERARY SEPARATISM by Craig S. Wormack (Creek-Cherokee). A fascinating examination of the way in which Native literature should be evaluated--on its own terms with the understanding that it is not a branch on the tree of mainstream literature but rather a tree unto itself (to paraphrase the author). Intelligent and thought-provoking, this text is an important read for anyone committed to the subject. Unfortunately, there wasn't space for the author to consider Native children's literature, which has its own (younger) primary audience and criteria, but we recommend the title anyway with that caveat.

THROUGH INDIAN EYES: THE NATIVE EXPERIENCE IN BOOKS FOR CHILDREN edited by Beverly Slapin and Doris Seale (Santee Cree) (American Indian Studies Center, 1998). This book is worth buying for the poems, art, and essays alone. By reading all of the reviews, one can extrapolate an approach to employ in evaluating other books and in considering this area of children’s literature as a whole.Look for the fourth edition. ISBN 0-935626-46-8. It may be ordered from Oyate, 2702 Mathews St., Berkeley, CA 94702; (510) 848-6700; (510) 848-4815 fax; oyate@idt.net or from the American Indian Studies Center, UCLA, 3220 Campbell Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548; (310) 206-7508; (310) 206-7060 fax. Review copies are available via UCLA.


The American Indian College Fund: non-profit organization that raises scholarship, endowment, and operating monies for Native American tribal colleges.

American Indian Library Association: an affiliate of the American Library Association.

American Indian Newspapers and Magazines: list of links to tribal newspapers, Indian Country Today, and the Native American Journalist's Association from The Seminole Tribe of Florida.

American Indians in Children's Literature: a blog from Debbie Reese.

American Indian Science and Engineering Society: nonprofit organization that bridges "science and technology with traditional Native values." Offers financial, academic and cultural support to Native students from middle to graduate school, trains teachers, and develops both curricula and publications.

AILA Native American Youth Services Literature Award: "created as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. Books selected to receive the award present Native Americans in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts." Given by the American Indian Library Association.

Joseph Bruchac Video Interview from Scholastic.

An Interview With Debbie Reese (Pueblo), "an advocate of multiculturalism-done-right in the field of children’s literature" from downhomebooks.com.

The Cradleboard Teaching Project: provides Native curriculum to tribal and mainstream schools; founded by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree).

"A Different Drum: Native American Writing" by Cynthia Leitich Smith, "Field Notes," (The Horn Book Magazine, July 2002)(p.407). A discussion of the value of vulnerability of Native American writing styles in the mainstream market.

Finding Unbiased American Indian Books from Kay Marie Porterfield and Emory Dean Keoke.

Frequently Asked Questions about American Indians from the Native American Rights Fund.

Get the Indians Out of the Cupboard the first in a week-long series of posts about reflections of Native people in youth literature from Nancy Bo Flood and Debby Edwardson.

Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature from Alaska Native Knowledge Network at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

"I" is for Inclusion: the Portrayal of Native Americans in Books for Young People: American Indian Children's Literature: Identifying and Celebrating the Good, published in conjunction with a program of the ALA/OLOS Subcommittee for Library Services to American Indian People/American Indian Library Association in 2007 (PDF file).

If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything: "assisting Indian Communities in Increasing Literacy Skills While Preserving Native American Identity."

The Indian Teacher & Educational Personnel Program at Humboldt State University: "better known as 'ITEPP' (eye-tep) has grown over four decades to include Indian students in a wide array of academic disciplines, including the arts, humanities, and social sciences, as well as business and economics, child development and elementary education, communication and journalism, kinesiology and recreation administration, Native American studies and political science, social work, and all majors preparatory to teaching."

"Mom, Look! It's George, and He's a TV Indian!" by Debbie Reese (Pueblo), September/October 1998, Hornbook (pgs. 636-643). To my knowledge this is not available online, but worth tracking down in print.

Motivating Young Readers: An Interview with Famed Children's Book Author Joseph Bruchac by Claus E. von Zastrow from Public School Insights.

“Bruchac spoke ...about strategies for motivating children to read. He offered ideas for helping struggling readers, resources parents and teachers can use to combat stereotypes in children's literature, thoughts on the promise and perils of the internet, observations the shortcomings of standardized assessments, and a preview of his forthcoming books.”

audioListen to: brief highlights (3 mins)
complete interview (23 mins)

Or choose specific segments of the interview from the following list:

Why Bruchac Started Writing for Children (2:23)

Motivating Children to Read (1:21)

The Effect of Persistent Stereotypes of American Indians on Young children (3:53)

Combating those Stereotypes through Literature and Education (3:03)

Reaching Struggling Readers (3:26)

Turning Children into Writers (3:27)

Upcoming Books by Joseph Bruchac: An American Indian in the Civil War, and Experiences in Medieval Slovakia (3:05)

Closing Thoughts: Supporting Educators (1:10)

Note: audio files will open in a new window.

National Museum of the American Indian Education Print Resources: "Please feel free to download PDFs of our teaching materials, below." Note: you can also order hard copies.

Native America Calling: The National Electric Talking Circle: a project of Koahnic Broadcast Corporation (think radio interviews, NPR).

Native American Children's Literature In the Classroom: An Annotated Bibliography by Joan Berman. A listing of numerous pertinent articles and books. Excellent collection of overview material; particularly recommended to those beginning to familiarize themselves.

Native American Education Links from Dr. Jon Allan Reyhner at Northern Arizona University.

Native American Rights Fund "Standing Firm for Justice": the premier legal advocacy organization. Please consider lending your support.

Native American Spirituality in Children's Books by Debby Dahl Edwardson from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "The question you, as a non-Native writer, should ask yourself is this: why don’t Native writers put overt references to Native religion, spirituality and worship in their books? Take a minute to think about it. This is important."

Native American Teachers Resources on the Internet compiled by Karen M. Strom.

Native American Women Playwrights Archive from the Department of Theatre, Miami University.

Native Americans: A Resource List for Teaching To Or About Native Americans by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza. Includes children's literature, Web resources, professional resources, music and videos. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

“Native Now: Contemporary Indian Stories” by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Book Links, December 2000).

Native Voices by Debbie Reese from School Library Journal. Peek: "As we approach 2009, stereotypical images of American Indians as bloodthirsty savages and tragic, heroic warriors still strike fear and evoke sympathy as they traipse across the pages of children's books." Note: article includes an bibliography of reading recommendations for elementary through high school readers.

Not Seeing Onesself by Debbie Reese. Discussion of the need for children to see people like themselves reflected in their literature.

Recommended Books About Thanksgiving from American Indians in Children's Literature.

Resources for Tribal Libraries by Elaine Cubbins at the University of Arizona.

Rethinking American Indians by Karen Martin (Creek) at Stanford University. Focuses on stereotypes and activities for reconsidering them. Part of a larger site, First Americans for Grade Schoolers. Emphasis on Dine (Navajo), Muscogee (Creek), Tlingit, Lakota, and Iroquois.

Selective Bibliography and Guide for "I" is not for Indian: The Portrayal of Native Americans in Books for Young People: compiled by Naomi Caldwell-Wood and Lisa A. Mitten; published in conjunction with a program of the ALA/OLOS Subcommittee for Library Services to American Indian People/American Indian Library Association in 1991.

Storytellers: Native American Authors Online from Karen M. Strom includes pages constructed by the authors, with their help, or noted as "unofficial." Enthusiastically recommended.

Teacher Guide to Books By Cynthia Leitich Smith: lesson plans for JINGLE DANCER, RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME, and INDIAN SHOES.

Teaching Respect for Native Peoples from a poster by Oyate (reproduced with permission).

Top Ten Books Recommended for Elementary School, Top Ten Books Recommended for Middle School, and Top Ten Books Recommended for High School by Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children's Literature.

VisionMaker Video: source for videos (VHS and DVD) by and about American Indians, a service of Native American Public Telecommunications.

Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers: "to ensure the voices of Native and indigenous writers and storytellers — past, present, and future — are heard throughout the world."

For additional books, please see the following sources:

Journal of American Indian Education: "The Journal of American Indian Education is a peer reviewed scholarly journal, which publishes papers specifically related to the education of American Indians and Alaska Natives." It is published three times annually by the Center for Indian Education at Arizona State University's College of Education. Full text of past volumes is online, includes search engine and subscription information. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Native American Children’s Literature in the Classroom: an annotated bibliography by Joan Berman, Native American studies librarian and children’s literature specialist at Humboldt State University.

Oyate: evaluates educational resources and fiction by and about Native people, leads workshops for teachers, and distributes excellent examples of such materials, making an effort to highlight Native authors and illustrators.

For additional related web sites, please see the following collection of links:

Techniques for Evaluating American Indian Web Sites by Elaine Cubbins at the University of Arizona.

Index of Native American Resources on the Internet by Karen Strom. First-rate collection of links, indexed by category. Topics include: culture, history, education, language, health, indigenous knowledge, artists, galleries, art-related sites, museums, archaeology, electronic texts, genealogy, legal, non-profits, government, music, nations, video & film, commercial, jobs, announcements, organizations, activism, gaming, home pages, bibliographies, media, virtual libraries, and more. This site is designed to primarily serve the Native community and then others. Please read the FAQ before thinking about contacting the site author with individual questions.