November is Native American Heritage Month-Check out these great reads!
November is Native American Heritage Month in the United States. Celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of indigenous peoples by reading books from our recommended reading list. Check out our recommended reading list below mixed with wide variety of genres —drama, memoirs, young adult fiction.
Young Adult Fiction & Nonfiction
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation. Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home. Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
In a futuristic world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America’s Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow, and dreams, means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a fifteen-year-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones and take refuge from the “recruiters” who seek them out to bring them to the marrow-stealing “factories.”
New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school — and first love.
Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories. Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. He’s found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake. Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries. And there are some who will kill to keep them apart. Darcie Little Badger introduced herself to the world with Elatsoe. In A Snake Falls to Earth, she draws on traditional Lipan Apache storytelling structure to weave another unforgettable tale of monsters, magic, and family. It is not to be missed.
Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up—or are re-opened—across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams. Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is—and what it will take to escape.
Apple: Skin to the Core, is a YA memoir-in-verse. Eric Gansworth tells the story of his life, of an Onondaga family living among Tuscaroras, and of Native people in America, including the damaging legacy of government boarding schools—and in doing so grapples with the slur common in Native communities, for someone “red on the outside, white on the inside,” and reclaims it.
From the acclaimed Ojibwe author and professor Anton Treuer comes an essential book of questions and answers for Native and non-Native young readers alike. Ranging from “Why is there such a fuss about nonnative people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween?” to “Why is it called a ‘traditional Indian fry bread taco’?” to “What’s it like for natives who don’t look native?” to “Why are Indians so often imagined rather than understood?”, and beyond, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask (Young Readers Edition) does exactly what its title says for young readers, in a style consistently thoughtful, personal, and engaging.
Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.
It’s been six months since her best friend died, and up until now Rain has succeeded in shutting herself off from the world. But when controversy arises around her aunt Georgia’s Indian Camp in their mostly white midwestern community, Rain decides to face the outside world again—at least through the lens of her camera. Hired by her town newspaper to photograph the campers, Rain soon finds that she has to decide how involved she wants to become in Indian Camp. Does she want to keep a professional distance from the intertribal community she belongs to? And just how willing is she to connect with the campers after her great loss? In a voice that resonates with insight and humor, Cynthia Leitich Smith tells of heartbreak, recovery, and reclaiming one’s place in the world
Juvenile Fiction & Nonfiction
Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream.
There are some differences. This America has been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day.
Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.
When Europeans arrived in North America, new diseases and wars led to the deaths of many Native Americans. One group escaped to the swamplands of Florida. Spanish colonists called them cimarrones, which means runaway. These Native Americans adopted the Spanish word into their language as siminoli. To them, it meant free people. This independent spirit helped the Seminoles survive wars with white settlers, life in the Everglades, the forced march to Oklahoma, and the preservation of their traditions. Read more about their gripping past and their enterprising present-day lives in Florida and Oklahoma.
Late at night around the campfires, Seminole children safely tucked into mosquito nets used to listen to the elders retelling the old stories and legends. The priceless tales of mischievous Rabbit, the Corn Lady, the Deer Girl, and the creatures of the Everglades are all written down and collected here for readers of all ages. This is a portrait of the beliefs and lifeways of the Seminoles of Florida as well as a delightful read for anyone interested in the first peoples of Florida.
Native lore, stories, and activities encourage children to explore the fascinating night world. By studying astronomy, Native beliefs, nighttime weather, and North American nocturnal plants and animals, children learn to appreciate
the importance of night in the natural cycle and overcome common fears about the nighttime
world. Filled with interdisciplinary activities, legends, and illustrations to inspire children and educators alike.
Every spring Rosalie and her grandfather (Papa) sow tiny seeds that blossom into bright vistas of flowers and vegetables. A red rosebush that is planted under Rosalie’s bedroom window when she is born, is later joined by pink and yellow ones “to make a sunset.” When Rosalie asks for a blue bush to represent the sky, Papa explains that roses do not come in blue. The winter after Papa dies, Rosalie’s blue roses come to her in a dream, symbolizing love, memory, and transcendence.
With gentle words and magical images, this contemporary Native American story tenderly embraces the natural cycle of life. Winner of LEE & LOW’s first New Voices Award, The Blue Roses is sure to touch all who read it
How did the Milky Way come to be? This traditional Cherokee legend tells of the time when the world was new and there were not many stars in the sky. In those days there lived an elderly couple who discovered one morning that a thief was stealing their cornmeal. And the culprit was no ordinary thief, but a giant spirit dog!
It took the courage of the couple’s young grandson, the wisdom of the people’s Beloved Woman, and the help of their entire village to drive the spirit dog into the night sky. And ever after the great band of stars formed in its wake has reminded us of the people’s brave deed.
A lyrical text by two renowned Native American storytellers and exquisite paintings by Cherokee-Creek artist Virginia A. Stroud illuminate this lovely story’s timeless message: that great things can be accomplished when a community works together.
Did you know that natives of the Northwest used dried sharkskin to sand totem poles? Or that horses were called medicine dogs, because dogs had been used to aid in hunting before horses were introduced by Europeans? In “D is for Drum: A Native America Alphabet,” readers will get an A-Z introduction to the many customs and cultures of the first people of this beautiful land. Bison, teepees, Kachinas and dugout canoes will all help to paint a fascinating picture of the more than 500 indigenous tribes inhabiting the Americas.
Tink, tink, tink, tink, sang cone-shaped jingles sewn to Grandma Wolfe’s dress. Jenna’s heart beats to the brum, brum, brum, brum of the powwow drum as she daydreams about the clinking song of her grandma’s jingle dancing. Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared by generations of women in her family, and she hopes to dance at the next powwow. But she has a problem—how will her dress sing if it has no jingles? The warm, evocative watercolors of Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu complement author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s lyrical text as she tells the affirming story of how a contemporary Native American girl turns to her family and community to help her dance find a voice.
An Ojibway tale adapted in this lovely children’s book. Star Maiden is tired of wandering in the sky and searches for the perfect home on earth. fish swam in clear streams, and wigwams and birchbark canoes lined lake shores and “the earth was rich with everything the people needed.” One night, a bright star falls from the sky and comes to earth. When a party of braves finds the star, its light makes them afraid, but a vision of a lovely maiden appears and asks to live among the tribal people in a form chosen by their wisest council. They decide that the star should choose any form it likes, and soon the lake is full of water lilies as the star maiden and her sisters find a new home. Finely detailed panel drawings bordered with Native American designs and wildlife imagery enrich this haunting tale.
This moving adaptation of the classic children’s story Cinderella tells how a disfigured Algonquin girl wins the heart of a mysterious being who lives by the lake near her village. The powerful Invisible Being is looking for a wife, and all the girls in the village vie for his affections. But only the girl who proves she can see him will be his bride. The two beautiful but spoiled daughters of a poor village man try their best to be chosen, but it is their Rough-Face-Girl sister, scarred on her face and arms from tending fires, who sees the Invisible Being in the wonder of the natural world. The dramatic illustrations reflect the vibrant earth colors of the native landscape and the wisdom and sensitivity of the protagonist.
Check out this reading of the Rough Face Girl Read by Ms. Trisha Sr librarian Youth services
For more books take a look in our catalog and in Libby for eBooks and eAudio books
Here’s a reading of Native American poetry from The Earth Under Sky Bear’s Feet read by Patricia Blanco Sr. Librarian-Youth Services.
Patricia Blanco Sr. Librarian-Youth Services
*Descriptions provided by Goodreads.com