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Here Now: Picture Books Portraying Contemporary Native Life, Part 2

In a recent School Library Journal article, “Can Diverse Books Save Us? In a Divided World, Librarians Are on a Mission” , 55% of librarians surveyed reported that authentic character portrayals of Native or Indigenous People were “hard to find.”

Author Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation), whose book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, came out this year, keeps track of children’s literature featuring contemporary Native life. With her generous permission, we are sharing the picture book section list she has compiled, including identification of tribal nations of indigenous authors:

Children’s Books Centering Contemporary Indigenous Children and Adults

** This is not an exhaustive list. Search for these creators online as many of them have several books about Native people, some of which are more historical (pre-1900) than contemporary. **

Picture Books

Annino, Jan Godown, illus. by Lisa Desimini, afterword by Moses Jumper, Jr. (Seminole). She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader (HC National Geographic 2010/PB Scholastic 2018)

Avingaq, Susan (Inuk) and Maren Vsetula, illus. by Charlene Chua. Fishing with Grandma (Inhabit Media, 2016)

Bruchac, Joseph (Abenaki), illus. by Liz Amini-Holmes. Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story (Albert Whitman, 2018)

Campbell, Nicola I. (Interior Salish/Cree), illus. by Kim LaFave. Shin-shi’s Canoe (Groundwood Books, 2008); Shi-shi-etko (Groundwood Books, 2005).

Child, Brenda (Red Lake Ojibwe), illus. by Jonathan Thunder (Red Lake Ojibwe). Bowwow Powwow (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2018)

Coulson, Art (Cherokee Nation), illus. by Nick Hardcastle. Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Defeated Army (Capstone, 2018)

Crowe, Ellie, illus. by Richard Waldrep. Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku (Lee & Low, 2007)

Dupuis, Jenny Kay (Ojibwe) and Kathy Kacer, illus. by Gillian Newland. I Am Not a Number (Second Story Press, 2016)

Edwardson, Debby Dahl, illus. by Annie Patterson. Whale Snow (Charlesbridge, 2003)

Flett, Julie (Cree/Métis). Wild Berries (Simply Read Books, 2013)

Francis, Lee DeCora (Penobscot/HoChunk), illus. by Susan Drucker. Kunu’s Basket: A Story from Indian Island (TilburyHouse, 2011)

González, Xelena (Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation), illus. by Adriana M. Garcia. All Around Us (Cinco Puntos Press, 2017)

Herrington, John B. (Chickasaw). Mission to Space (White Dog Press, 2016)

Kirk, Connie Ann, illus. by Christy Hale. Sky Dancers (Lee & Low, 2004)

Lindstrom, Carole (Turtle Mtn Chippewa/Métis), illus. by Kimberly McKay. Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle (Pemmican, 2013)

Maret, Sherri (Choctaw Nation), illus. by Merisha Sequoia Clark (Choctaw Nation). The Cloud Artist (Roadrunner Press, 2017)

Morrison, Kaylee (Muscogee Creek) and Nancy Smith (Muscogee Creek), illus. by Dorothy Shaw. Joshua and the Biggest Fish (Doodle & Peck, 2017)

Nelson, S.D. (Standing Rock Lakota). Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way (South Dakota State Historical Society, 2012); Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story (Lee & Low, 2006)

Rendon, Marcie (White Earth Anishinabe). Powwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013)

Ortiz, Simon. (Acoma Pueblo), illus. by Sharol Graves. The People Shall Continue (Lee & Low, 2017)

Robertson, David (Swampy Cree), illus. by Julie Flett. When We Were Alone (HighWater Press, 2016)

Robertson, Joanne (Ojibwe). The Water Walker (Second Story Press, 2017)

Robertson, Sebastian (Mohawk), illus. by Adam Gustavson. Rock and Rock Highway (Henry Holt, 2014)

Santiago, Chiori, illus. by Judith Lowry (Maidu/Pit River). Home to Medicine Mountain (Lee & Low, 1996)

Savageau, Cheryl (Abenaki). Muskrat Will Be Swimming, illus. by Robert Hynes. (Tilbury House, 2006)

Smith, Cynthia Leitich (Muscogee Creek), illus. by Ying-Hwa Hu and Cornelius Van Wright. Jingle Dancer (HarperCollins, 2000)

Smith, Monique Gray (Cree/Lakota), illus. by Danielle Daniel. You Hold Me Up (Orca Book Publishers, 2017)

Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk (Rosebud Sioux), illus. by Ellen Beier. The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood (Holiday House, 2011)

Sorell, Traci (Cherokee), illus. by Frané Lessac. We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (Charlesbridge, 2018)

Tahe, Rose Ann (Diné) and Nancy Bo Flood, illus. by Jonathan Nelson (Diné). First Laugh–Welcome, Baby! (Charlesbridge, 2018)

Tallchief, Maria (Osage) with Rosemary Wells, illus. by Gary Kelley. Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina (Puffin Books, 1999)

Taylor, Gaylia, illus. by Frank Morrison. George Crum and the Saratoga Chip (Lee & Low, 2006)

Vandever, Daniel W. (Navajo). Fall in Line, Holden (Salina Bookshelf, 2017)

Waboose, Jan Bourdeau (Ojibwe), illus. by Brian Deines. SkySisters (Kids Can Press, 2002)

Search the DiverseBookFinder to find out more about these titles; they’re in the collection now or coming soon (ordered or in processing).