One of the most underrated genres of children’s novels and books are Native Americans. Not very well known, Native American children’s literature portrays many experiences and tells stories of Native people. Sharing these stories with your children, whether they are Native or not, is a great way to teach them about different cultures as well as to make sure that their rich stories are not lost. Many of the stories below belong to many different tribes including Abenaki, Mohawk, Navajo, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Iroquois, and more. Below are some of the best Native American children’s books.
Crazy Horse’s Vision – Joseph Bruchac
Crazy Horse is one of the most well-known Native American heroes. In Crazy Horse’s Vision Joseph Bruchac, of the Abenaki tribe, weaves a tale of Curly who was a leader even as a young boy, taming horses and hunting buffalo. The tale is of how Curly grows into the warrior Crazy Horse. Beautifully illustrated by Sioux artist S.D. Nelson, Crazy Horse’s Vision is an important story to read to growing children.
Night of the Full Moon – Gloria Whelan
An interesting tale set in 1840, Night of the Full Moon is about Libby and her Potawatomi friend Taw-cum-e-go-qua, or Fawn. Libby Mitchell is trying to visit her friend for a special ceremony on the night of the full moon, but soldiers suddenly rush in and order everyone at the camp to move, including Libby. This story gives really great insight into Potawatomi culture and heritage, as well as an intriguing story of how Fawn’s father orchestrates an escape plan to not only get Libby back to her parents, but to also get his family safely in the northern wilderness.
Jingle Dancer – Cynthia Leitich Smith
Jenna’s heart beats to the brum, brum, brum, brum of the powwow drum in this beautifully illustrated book Jingle Dancer. Written by Cynthia Leitich Smith of the Muscogee Nation, Jingle Dancer is about Jenna’s search for the jingles to add to her dress for the next powwow buy turning to women in her family and community to help her dance find a voice.
SkySisters – Jan Bourdeau Waboose
One of the most beautifully illustrated books on the list, SkySisters is the story of two Ojibway sisters who set off across the frozen north to see the SkySpirits’ dance, also knowns as the northern lights. This amazing story about two sisters journey and along the way they make snow angels, listen to coyotes, catch snowflakes, and more. When the SkySpirits finally appear, they sand in silent awe and decide that the spirits are actually SkySisters.
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses – Paul Goble
Written by the prolific author Paul Goble, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses is about a young Native American girl that was devoted to the care of her tribe’s horses, and her family and tribes acceptance of her uniqueness. Written in simple prose with beautiful illustrations, this book is a great story about a girl’s sacred connection to her equine friends and to live in a beautiful land among the horses she adores.
Dreamcatcher – Audrey Osofsky
Woven by the Ojibway Indians, dream nets or dreamcatchers, are delicate circles that capture nightmares and let only good dreams through. In a beautifully illustrated book written by Audrey Osofsky, Dreamcatcher is a story of a baby that watches his family play, weave, and work, while he drifts off to sleep. Dreamcatcher also gives us a great glimpse into the Ojibway way of life in beautiful illustrations.
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