Picture Books by Native American Authors
Take a look into the lives of the many Native American nations, tribes, and peoples in the United States both in history and today. Reading picture books about Native American characters by Native American authors can help us understand cultures, traditions, practices, and history. It can introduce us to the original languages of North America and start conversations about what life looks like today for Native Americans, what challenges people face, and what great triumphs they have made.
Jenna dreams to join her grandmother in her first jingle dance at their next powwow. She has been studying her grandmother's jingle dance videos and practicing her dances any chance she gets, but she has one problem. Her dance dress has no jingles, and the tin her mother ordered to make them won't arrive in time. Jenna must figure out how to get her dress to jingle so her dress can sing in the powwow.
This story is woven with family tradition and tribal story and offers a glimpse into the contemporary life of a child growing up in an intertribal community.
Ostaliheliga, pronounced oh-jah-lee-hay-lee-gah, is a Cherokee word used to express gratitude. This book explores what many Cherokee people are grateful for and can help kids learn about Cherokee culture and language. As we read about the gratitude found in different festivities and seasons, we learn about the practices, traditions, and celebrations of people in the Cherokee Nation. In turn, we can start a conversation about what we are grateful for. The back of the book also features further explanations and definitions of culturally significant foods, holidays, and more!
Buffalo Bird Girl tells the story of a child of the Hidatsa people born in the 1830's in a a hunting and farming community along the Missouri River on the Dakota Great Plains. There she lives in an earth-mound lodge with her family and learns the traditions and way of life on the plains before their removal by the US government. She also talks about how life changed once on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Throughout the story, the author, S.D. Nelson, includes photos of people of the Great Plains and provides details on the culture and traditions of the Hidatsa people. This book is a great look into the real life and childhood of Buffalo Bird Girl.
To move from their coastal summer home into the woods for the winter, Baby Zoo Sap's Passamaquoddy family packs up their bobsled, and starts their trek into the snow. On their journey, baby Zoo Sap falls off the sled, but it is not until they arrive at their winter home that they realize Zoo Sapp was missing. Read along and find out about all the animals that come to help the baby. You can also learn animal words in Passamaquoddy and learn about why the Passamaquoddy people migrated seasonally in the upper main and New Brunswick are.