Thematic Reading List: 12 Picture Books featuring Native American Themes
Our list of picture books reflecting Native American themes feature family, animals, school, space exploration, and Thanksgiving.
|Black Bear Red Fox
By: Julie Flett A book demonstrating colors in English as well as in Cree, along with the pronunciation.
|The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood
By: Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
Illustrated by: Ellen Beier Virginia and her brother are never allowed to pick first from the donation boxes at church because their father is the priest, and she is heartbroken when another girl gets the beautiful coat that she covets. Based on the author’s memories of life on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
|Fall in Line, Holden!
By: Daniel W. Vandever At a very strict school in Indigenous Nation, everyone but Holden stays in line until they reach the door at the end of the school day.
|The Good Luck Cat
By: Joy Harjo
Illustrated by: Paul Lee Because her good luck cat Woogie has already used up eight of his nine lives in narrow escapes from disaster, a Native American girl worries when he disappears.
|The Hogan That Great-Grandfather Built
By: Nancy Bo Flood
Illustrated by: Peterson Yazzie A child describes what daily life is like for his Navajo family living in a hogan built long, long ago by his great-grandfather.
|Mission to Space
By: John Herrington
Illustrated by: Peterson Yazzie Astronaut John Herrington shares his passion for space travel and his Chickasaw heritage as he gives children a glimpse into his astronaut training at NASA and his mission to the International Space Station. Includes an English-to-Chickasaw vocabulary list with space-related terms.
|My Heart Fills with Happiness
By: Monique Gray Smith
Illustrated by: Julie Flett A sweet narrative grounded in First/Native Nations culture, community, and traditions, this book explores what makes one happy.
By: Jan Bourdeau Waboose
Illustrated by: Brian Deines Two Ojibway sisters venture out on a chilly night following their grandmother’s advice that “wisdom comes on silent wings.” They meet three guardian animal spirits and arrive at the Northern Lights, or SkySpirits.
|Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving
By: Joseph Bruchac Squanto recounts how in 1614 he was captured by the British, sold into slavery in Spain, and ultimately returned to the New World to become a guide and friend for the colonists.
|The Very First Americans
By: Cara Ashrose Briefly describes some of the hundreds of Indian tribes that lived across America before the arrival of Europeans.
|A Walk to the Great Mystery
By: Virginia A. Stroud While exploring the woods with their grandmother, a Cherokee medicine woman, two children learn about the spirit of life that is all around them and within them as well.
|When We Were Alone
By: David Robertson While gardening with her grandmother, a young girl asks her grandmother about her long, braided hair, colorful clothing, and why she speaks another language. She will find the answer in the story about her Cree grandmother’s time in a residential school.