12 Books to Read With Kids in Honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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indigenous peoples day books
Graphic by: Anna Wissler

Though parts of our nation continue to celebrate Columbus Day, here at The Everymom, we are committed to honoring Native and Indigenous people and their diverse cultures and rich traditions by marking October 10 as Indigenous Peoples’ 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 12 beautiful picture books that offer a window into the lives of Indigenous people.

Editor’s Note: All shopping below is linked to Bookshop.org, an online store supporting local, independent bookstores.

Wilma mankiller
Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

1. Wilma Mankiller

From the editor-favorite series Little People, BIG DREAMS comes the story of Native American activist—and the first woman to be elected as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation—Wilma Mankiller.

Indigenous peoples day kids books
Kevin Noble Maillard

2. Fry Bread

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.

jingle dancer Indigenous peoples day kids books
Cynthia L. Smith

3. Jingle Dancer

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.

Indigenous peoples day kids books
Carole Lindstrom

4. We Are Water Protectors

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.

Indigenous peoples day kids books
Paul Goble

5. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

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.

Indigenous peoples day kids books
Gabrielle Grimard

6. Lila and the Crow

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.

Indigenous peoples day kids books
Celina Kalluk

7. Sweetest Kulu

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.

Indigenous peoples day kids books
Nicola I. Campbell

8. A Day With Yayah

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.

Indigenous peoples day kids books
Brenda J. Child

9. Bowwow Powwow

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.

Indigenous peoples day kids books
Julie Flett

10. Birdsong

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.

Indigenous peoples day kids books
Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

11. When I Was Eight

Based on a bestselling memoir titled 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.


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