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Though parts of our nation continue to celebrate Columbus Day today, here at The Everymom, we are committed to honoring Native and Indigenous people and their diverse cultures and rich traditions by marking today as Indigenous People’s Day. We encourage parents to start a conversation with little ones that center on this country’s first inhabitants and acknowledges the painful truth of our intertwined story.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my relatively short time as a parent, it’s that books are a wonderful entry point into discussing tough topics with kids. They’re the foundation we lay today so that tomorrow, even our smallest children can approach the world with a humble heart and open mind.
To begin the work of reframing the narrative for kids, we’ve compiled a list of 10 beautiful picture books that offer a window into the lives of Indigenous people.
Editor’s Note: All shopping is linked to Bookshop.org, an online store supporting local, independent bookstores.
Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Based on a bestselling memoir entitled Fatty Legs, this picture book makes a moving true story digestible for young readers. It's a tale of would-be assimilation and triumph as an 8-year-old holds tight to her Native identity—despite the world's efforts to erase it.
Kevin Noble Maillard
Fry Bread is an award-winning picture book that centers around the love and warmth of family and food—all the while exploring what it means to grow up Native.
Cynthia L. Smith
This book centers on a child of Muscogee and Ojibway descent, as she yearns to dance the traditional Jingle Dance of her people. The story is a powerful reflection on family, culture, and the traditions that tie generations together.
We Are Water Protectors follows the story of a young Native child as she fights alongside her family and friends to save the Earth's water from human negligence and harm.
A recipient of the Caldecott Medal for extraordinary children's books, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses depicts the life of a young Native girl through bold, vibrant illustrations.
When Lila begins a new school, she finds herself the focus of her classmates' ridicule—all because she doesn't look like them. This heartwarming story follows Lila on her path to discovering a sense of pride in her Native identity.
A lyrical bedtime poem, Sweetest Kulu was written by Celine Kalluk, a renowned Inuit throat singer, and describes how Inuit culture views a beloved baby's entry into the world.
Nicola I. Campbell
Sweet, heartwarming, and sure to enchant, A Day With Yayah accompanies a First Nation family as they forage for herbs alongside their grandmother, all the while picking up bits of their family's history and culture.
Brenda J. Child
This book is delightful, imaginative, and full of heart. It's a celebration of tradition and history and a love letter to the Ojibwe people. The book includes an Ojibwe translation as well.
Widely praised by big names such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and the American Indian Library Association, Birdsong is a celebration of love and friendship by Cree-Métis writer and illustrator Julie Flett.