Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Cover art by Nicole Neidhardt; cover design by Molly Fehr

ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Heartdrum, 2021).

A collection of intersecting stories set at a powwow that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

In a high school gym full of color and song, Native families from Nations within the borders of the U.S. and Canada dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. They are the heroes of their own stories.

Featured contributors: Joseph Bruchac, Art Coulson, Christine Day, Eric Gansworth, Dawn Quigley, Carole Lindstrom, Rebecca Roanhorse, David A. Robertson, Andrea L. Rogers, Kim Rogers, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Monique Gray Smith, Traci Sorell, Tim Tingle, Erika T. Wurth, and Brian Young.

Voice Actors: Kenny RamosDeLanna Studi (HarperAudio, 2021).

Published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Order ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith. A portion of the royalties will be donated to the Native Fund at We Need Diverse Books.

  • A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
Cover Thoughts

Cover Reveal: ANCESTOR APPROVED by Cynthia Leitich Smith from We Need Diverse Books. PEEK: “The story behind Ancestor Approved is truly one of community and collaboration, much like the intertribal powwow reflected in the book…Nicole Niedhardt’s gorgeous, dynamic cover draws its inspiration from Jessie, the protagonist of Kim Rogers’s short story, ‘Flying Together.'”


“With exceptionally strong writing throughout, and appended with glossary, author notes, and acknowledgements, this makes an appealing choice for those just learning about contemporary Indigenous life as well as readers well-versed with the powwow circuit.” —Booklist, starred review

“A groundbreaking Indigenous anthology for young people. Readers can join the fun in this collection of 18 contemporary stories and poems about loving families from various parts of the U.S. and Canada who travel to meet, dance, sing, socialize, and honor Native traditions at an intertribal powwow.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “…a wonderful introduction to the included authors’ work and a persuasive encouragement to seek out more Indigenous stories.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“…anthology of richly varied, loosely interconnected stories all centered on an intertribal powwow…overarching themes emerge around the importance of family, the solace of tradition and community, and growing personally through supporting others…this uplifting assembly affirms the vitality of Indigenous life today and offers accessible situations and characters to all young readers.” —Jaclyn Fulwood, Shelf Awareness

“…a thoughtful and sometimes funny celebration of a celebration, and whether kids are veteran powwow-goers or new to the experience, they’ll long for the convivial warmth of the festivities.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Author Insights

“The contributors joined efforts—by text message, email, and an online message board—to create this engaging collection of interconnected stories, poems, and visual artwork centered on a two-day event, including the characters’ preparations and journeys home.”

Two of the characters, Ray Halfmoon and his grandfather, from “Between the Lines” by Cynthia Leitich Smith were first introduced in INDIAN SHOES (HarperCollins, 2002)(Heartdrum, 2021).


Feb. 2021| 9780062869944/0062869949 | Heartdrum | Hardcover | MG Anthology | 272 Pages | Ages 8-up