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November is Native American Heritage Month. Celebrate a rich culture with these picture books.  

Book Recommendations

We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all… When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people’s water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource. Inspired by the many indigenous-led movements across North America, this bold and lyrical picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption.

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard

Using illustrations that show the diversity in Native America and spare poetic text that emphasizes fry bread in terms of provenance, this volume tells the story of a post-colonial food that is a shared tradition for Native American families all across the North American continent.

We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp 

Gentle rhythmic text captures the wonder new parents feel as they welcome a baby into the world with this about sometime wishes really do come true. 

I Sang You Down From The Stars by Tasha Spillett-Summer

A Native American woman describes how she loved her child before it was born and, throughout her pregnancy, gathered a bundle of gifts to welcome the newborn.

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

This picture book explores the intergenerational impact of Canada’s residential school system that separated Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down and shared through generations, and how healing can also be shared. Stolen Words captures the beautiful, healing relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks him how to say something in his language – Cree – her grandpa admits that his words were stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather regain his language

Encounter by Brittany Luby

Awakened gently by Sun, Sailor sets off to explore new lands where he meets Fisher, and although they speak and dress differently, they find they have much in common. Includes author’s note about the first encounter between a European explorer and a Native North American.

Awâsis and The World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt

As young Awâsis searches for the ingredients to make Kohkum’s worldfamous bannock recipe, they run into a variety of other-than-human relatives that help them along in their journey. Includes a pronunciation guide and Kohkum’s worldfamous bannock recipe at the back of the book.

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith

The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy. International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.

First Laugh:Welcome, Baby! By Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood

A Navaho family welcomes a new baby into the family with love and ceremony, eagerly waiting for that first special laugh.

Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk

An Inuit mother sings to her Kulu–or baby–about animals and other elements in their Arctic world and the gifts they bring to the child, from the summer sun’s warm light to Arctic hare’s love, muskox’s power, and caribou’s patience.

In My Anaana’s Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok

Nadia Sammurtok lovingly invites the reader into the amautik–the pouch in the back of a mother’s parka used to carry a child–to experience everything through the eyes of the baby nestled inside, from the cloudlike softness of the pouch to the glistening sound of Anaana’s laughter.

When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson 

When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.

Thunder Boy Jr. by Alexie Sherman

Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name … one that’s all his own. Dad is known as Big Thunder, but Little Thunder doesn’t want to share a name.

When We are Kind = Nihá’ádaahwiinít’ı̨́́įgo by Moniquw Gray Smith  

This dual-language beautiful picture book looks at how the simple act of being kind, to others and oneself, affects all aspects of a child’s life. In English and Diné.

Hungry Johnny by Cheryl Minnema 

Johnny likes to “eat, eat, eat!” But he has to wait patiently before it is his turn. First, there is the long drive to the community center, then an even longer Ojibwe prayer, and then he still has to wait some more as the elders eat first. Hungry Johnny is a warm story about a young boy who – with the help of his loving grandmother – learns about gratitude, patience, and respect.