Intro: Children’s and Young Adult Books by Native Authors and Illustrators

Authors Tim Tingle (Choctaw) & Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)

With a rise in Native voices and visions in youth literature comes hope, celebration, and really terrific reads!

There is still work to be done. Native children’s-YA book creators are among the most underrepresented groups in publishing today. Meanwhile, those who have found success shine among its brightest stars—like authors David A. Robertson, Cherie Dimaline, Darcie Little Badger, Louise Erdrich, Eric Gansworth, S.D. Nelson, Traci Sorell, and Tim Tingle. Like illustrators Shonto Begay, Michaela Goade, S.D. Nelson, Steph Littlebird, and Julie Flett. Plus, many new voices and up-and-comers are likewise crafting wonderful books that belong in homes, schools and classrooms across the continent and around the globe.

The bibliographies herein are by no means comprehensive. They’re drawn from books published between 1995 and 2020. While award-winners and bestsellers are included, part of the goal is to feature underappreciated gems. SEE ALSO Ongoing Coverage of Native Books at CynsationsHome and Classroom Teaching: Native American Children’s Teens’ Books & Resources, and Native American Children’s and Young Adult Book Bibliographies and Educator Resources.

Featured Author

Looking for Native baby books? Check out the adorable board books by Richard Van Camp (Dogrib), including LITTLE YOU, illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis)(Orca, 2013).

Featured Illustrator

Johnathan Nelson, illustrator of FIRST LAUGH – WELCOME, BABY, written by the late Rose Ann Tahe (Navajo) and Nancy Bo Flood (Charlesbridge, 2018) and THE WOOL OF JONESY (Native Realities, 2016).

Visit Indigenous Reads Rising, regularly updated by We Need Diverse Books.