Home & Classroom Teaching: Native American Children’s-Teens’ Books & Resources

Native American Children’s and Young Adult Books Bibliographies and Educator Resources

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Check out this list of Native children’s and young adult (teen) books along with supplemental educational and/or entertaining resources. It reflects only a few highlights from the quickly growing, engaging body of literature for young readers, created by Native authors and illustrators. The books were selected in part due to their curriculum tie-in potential and in part due to the tie-in activities, lesson plans, interviews, articles, etc. readily available for each.

NOTE: Does not yet reflect 2022 releases.

Early Elementary

At Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre (Tongva/Scots-Gaelic)(Kokila, 2019)

Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe), illustrated by Jonathan Thunder (Red Lake Ojibwe), translated by Gordon Jourdain (Lac La Croix First Nation)(Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2018)

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Millbrook, 2021)

The Cloud Artist: A Choctaw Tale by Sherri Maret (Choctaw), illustrated by Merisha Sequoia Clark (Choctaw)(Roadrunner, 2017)

Fall in Line, Holden! by Daniel W. Vandever (Navajo)(Salina Bookshelf, 2017)

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Tradition by Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole), illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Peruvian-American)(Roaring Brook, 2019)


I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis (Nipissing) and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland (Second Story, 2016)

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee), illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000)(Heartdrum, 2021)

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used to Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley (Ojibwe), illustrated by Tara Audibert (Wolastoqey)(Heartdrum, 2021)

Josie Dances by Denise Lajimodiere (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), illustrated by Angela Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2021)

Look, Grandma! Ni, Elisi! by Art Coulson (Cherokee), illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight (Chickasaw) (Charlesbridge, 2021)

On the Trapline by David A. Robertson (Norway House Cree), illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis)(Tundra Books, 2021)

The People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz (Acoma), illustrated by Sharol Graves (Lee & Low, 2017)

The Powwow Mystery Series 1: The Powwow Thief by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki), illustrated by Dale Deforest (Navajo)(Reycraft, 2019)

Powwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life by Marcie R. Rendon (White Earth Ojibwe), illustrated by Cheryl Walsh Bellville (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2003)

Shaped By Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez by Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales (San Ildefonso Pueblo), illustrated by Aphelandra (Oneida)(Albert Whitman, 2021)

Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman by Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk) and Nancy K. Mays, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Ojibwe Woodland) (HarperCollins, 2021)

Spotted Tail by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Sicangu Lakota), illustrated by Jim Yellowhawk (Itazipco Band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe- Onodoga/Iroquois) and Pat Kinsella (Reycraft, 2019)

We All Play by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis)(Greystone Books, 2021)

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge, 2018)

We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge, 2021)

The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson (AnishinaabeKwe) (Second Story, 2017)

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (Anishinaabe/Métis), illustrated by Michaela Goade (Tlingit)(Roaring Brook, 2020)

We Dream Medicine Dreams by Lisa Boivin (Deninu Kue)(Portage and Main Press, 2021)

When We are Kind by Monique Gray Smith (Cree/ Lakota), illustrated by artist Nicole Neidhardt (Diné) (Orca Book Publishers, 2020)

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson (Swampy Cree), illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis)(Highwater Press, 2016)

Upper Elementary

Art by Nicole Neidhardt; design by Molly Fehr

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)(Heartdrum, Feb. 9, 2021)

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson (Norway House Cree) (Puffin Canada, 2021)

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)(Hyperion, 1999).

Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young (Navajo)(Heartdrum, 2021)

How I Became A Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle (Choctaw)(Roadrunner, 2015)

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day (Upper Skagit)(HarperChildren’s, 2019)(Heartdrum, 2020)

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis (Umpqua/Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde) with Traci Sorell (Cherokee)(Lee & Low, 2019)

Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee), cover by Sharon Irla (Cherokee), interiors by Mary Beth Timothy (Cherokee)(HarperChildren’s, 2002)(Heartdrum, 2021)

A Kid’s Guide to Native American History: More than 50 Activities by Yvonne Wakim Dennis (Cherokee) and Arlene Hischfelder (Chicago Review Press, 2009)

Mary and the Trail of Tears: A Cherokee Removal Survival Story by Andrea L. Rogers (Cherokee), illustrated by Matt Forsyth (Capstone, 2020)

Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers, And Changemakers From Past And Present by Adrienne Keene (Cherokee), illustrated by Ciara Sana (Ten Speed Press, 2021)

Sea in Winter by Christine Day (Upper Skagit)(Heartdrum, 2021)

Sioux Code Talkers of World War II by Andrea M. Page (Standing Rock Sioux)(Pelican, 2017).

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)(Heartdrum, 2021)

Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith (Cree/ Lakota)(Orca, 2017)

Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army by Art Coulson (Cherokee), illustrated by Nick Hardcastle (Capstone, 2018)

When a Ghost Talks, Listen: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle (Choctaw)(Roadrunner, 2018)

Middle School/Junior High

Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)(North Dakota State University Press, 2018)

Chula the Fox by Anthony Perry (Chickasaw)(White Dog Press, 2018)

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (Onondaga)(Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2013)

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, adapted by Debbie Reese (Nambé Pueblo) and Jean Mendoza (Beacon, 2019)

Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth (Onondaga)(Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2018)

Rain Is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)(HarperCollins, 2001)(Heartdrum, 2021)

High School

Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth (Onondaga)(Levine Querido, 2020)

Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices by Lisa Charleyboy (Tsilhqot’in) and Mary Beth Leatherdale (Annick, 2014)

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (Lipan Apache), illustrated by Rovina Cai (Levine Querido, 2020)

Everything You Wanted To Know About Indians But Were Afraid To Ask: Young Readers Edition by Anton Treuer (Ojibwe)(Levine Querido, 2021)

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Ojibwe)(Holt, 2021).

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)(Candlewick, 2018 hardcover, April 2020 paperback)

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (Métis)(DCB, 2017)

Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers edited by Arigon Starr (Kickapoo)(Native Realities, 2016)

Note: “The graphic novel also features a history of the Code Talkers and a lesson plan for teachers who wish to use the book to teach students about the struggle and accomplishments of these Native American heroes.”

More Teaching Resources 

Educator Resources and Newly Updated Bibliographies of Contemporary & Historical Native American Children’s and Young Adult Books from CLSCLR. Or go straight to Educator Resources.

Native American Heritage Month from Lincolnwood (IL) Library. Provides a positive model for school and public libraries as well as highlighting recommended texts.

Native Knowledge 360° from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

“Readers Are Realizing Their Hunger For Our Stories”: Native Literature for Kids and Teens by Kelly Jenson from Book Riot. An engaging, extensive overview of the state of Native children’s-YA books.

First Voices for Kids: words, phrases, songs and stories, and games in more than 50 Indigenous languages from the First Peoples’ Cultural Council. Via Monique Gray Smith; sign up for her newsletter.

Publisher Guidelines on Fair Use for Online Storytimes & Read-Alouds during COVID-19 School Closures from Kate Messner. Note: School Library Journal also is keeping an updated list.

Teaching Respect for Native Peoples from Oyate.

American Indian Youth Literature Award Winners & Honorees from the American Indian Library Association. Note: Several of the books listed above are among the AIYLA winners and honorees.

Heartdrum: a Native-Focused Imprint of HarperCollins from Children’s-YA Literature Resources. Features listing of books, flap copy, reviews, related resources, awards and honors.

Ongoing Coverage of Native/First Nations Books for Young Readers from Cynsations. CYN NOTE: Emphasis on author and illustrator interviews about new releases.

Historical Fiction by Native Writers from American Indians in Children’s Literature. CYN NOTE: Organized by decade. SEE ALSO Tips for Teachers: Developing Instructional Materials About American Indians.

7 Native-Centered Books for Teaching K-12 Students by Kara Stewart from School Library Journal. PEEK: “Certainly, with increasing awareness of social and racial justice, many librarians and teachers are using Native-centered books in their instruction, and not just for cultural learning or social studies.”

7th Generation Books has lesson plans for several books in their PathFinder series for teen readers.

COVID-19 Resources from We Need Diverse Books. Note: Scroll to Resources for Parents and Educators.

Native-owned & Independent Bookstores

Visit and shop online.
Visit and shop online.

Please also consider supporting my local independent bookstore, BookPeople of Austin. Or buy from one of my favorite brick-and-mortar indies, Blue Willow Bookshop of Houston, which is shipping directly from the store. You can support more local bookstores at Bookshop and, to do the same for audio books, try

Links above include additional purchase opportunities for ebooks that may not be available through indie outlets. Regarding the above books that are available in an electronic edition, those ebooks are likely for sale via multiple retailers.

Reminder: You may be able to check out ebooks and audio books online via your local public library. Please support public and school libraries.