Today’s post brings to you, as the title says, 3 Amazing Children’s Books For Native American Heritage Month, also called Indigenous Heritage Month, National American Indian Heritage Month, and National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. While I initially had more books in the original list, putting down my thoughts for each of them took longer than I thought it would and so I decided to feature a few at a time, starting with these three wonderful reads. Each of these books is illustrated and/or written by a person of Native American origin.
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3 Amazing Children’s Books For Native American Heritage Month
I Sang You Down From the Stars
Title: I Sang You Down from the Stars
Author: Tasha Spillett-Sumner
Illustrator: Michaela Goade
Length: 32 pages
Genre: Children’s Fiction/Native American Books, American Folktales and Myths, Diverse Reads(4 – 8 years, and up)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 6, 2021)
Description: A unique baby book that sings with Native cultural detail, while striking a universal chord in its celebration of the blossoming of love that comes with expecting and welcoming a new baby. Tasha Spillett-Sumner and Michaela Goade, two Indigenous creators, bring beautiful words and luminous art together in a resonant celebration of the bond between mother and child.
Check out support materials to use with this book here.
This book is a tug-at-your-heartstrings, then wrap-it-in-a-warm-hug kind of book. Its sweet and lyrical text accompanied by stunning and detailed artwork show the all-encompassing, unconditional love of a mother towards her child as well as the respect both creators have for their native cultures.
It also gives readers a peek into the Native American tradition of mothers preparing a collection of items for their soon to be born babe during their pregnancy. This bundle is meant to help their child along their own life journey.
A perfect book to add to the gift bags of new and expectant parents this holiday season, and well, just about anyone.
Get it Here
Thunder Boy Jr.
Title: Thunder Boy Jr.
Author: Sherman Alexie
Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
Length: 40 pages
Genre: Children’s fiction/Native American Books, Diverse Reads(2 – 5 years, and up)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 10, 2016)
Description: From New York Times bestselling author Sherman Alexie and Caldecott Honor winning Yuyi Morales comes a striking and beautifully illustrated picture book celebrating the special relationship between father and son.
Check out resources to use with this book here
Sherman Alexie is one of those authors I had planned to read for the longest while, from the first time I saw “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” ages ago. But I somehow never read Alexie even when my kids read the aforementioned book, until I took a writing class in 2019 where we read “Superman and Me.” I truly enjoyed the look into Native American life through this essay. It was an eye opener, so to speak.
This book narrates the story of a little boy, Thunder Boy Jr., who has inherited his name from his father. Now he wants a name that is unique to him. Alexie captures the tenderness and warmth of the father-son relationship effortlessly while Yuyi Morales‘ dynamic and vibrant illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to this heartwarming story of family. And of course, we learn the importance of names.
While you are at it, gift this sweet read as well to those you love!
Get it Here
Title: Jingle Dancer
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Illustrator: Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
Length: 32 pages
Genre: Children’s fiction/Native American Traditions, multigenerational reads(4 – 8 years, and up)
Publisher: Heartdrum; 6th Printing edition (April 5, 2000)
Description: The cone-shaped jingles sewn to Grandma Wolfe’s dress sing tink, tink, tink, tink…Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared over generations in her family and intertribal community. She hopes to dance at the next powwow. But with the day quickly approaching, she has a problem—how will her dress sing if it has no jingles?
Check out the author’s website for amazing educational resources to use with this book.
I love dancing, love reading about traditions passed on from generation to generation, and definitely love reading tales that center around family and community. This story has all of that, and more. I learned about the dance itself, as well as its colorful jingly costume, and more about the culture woven all through the pages with lyrical narrative and colorful artwork.
I loved how the words spoke the language of the culture, like in this beautiful phrase “As Sun fetched morning.” And of course, I could not help but admire the details in the illustrations that gave me more than a peek into this tradition. Don’t forget to read the Author’s Note at the end of the book.
A great way to introduce readers, young and old, to a wonderful aspect of Native American traditions and culture.
Get it Here
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read any of these books? Your thoughts on them? Do you have any recommendations for similar books? As always, any and all comments and suggestions are welcome.