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Native American Book Recommendations

Today, I’m going to focus on sharing Ingenious peoples’ stories. Stories that will give you insight. That will bring joy. Narratives that will empower you to do more. You’ll find ten Native American book recommendations in this post. All varying in topic and genre.

A Reflection on Independence

Yesterday, July 4, 2020 was a difficult day.

It was uncomfortable.

Looking back I never fully realized what I was celebrating. The celebration was getting together eating BBQ and watching fireworks. Never taking the time to look deeper into what that celebration cost. How many lives were lost. Voices silenced in the scope of our nation.

For me, it was a day to reflect. Reflect on where we currently are as a country and how we got here.

My Promise: Diversity First

There has been a shift in our discourse. Focusing a deeper understanding on how our country came to be and what it means to be American. And after reflecting and listening to and reading stories by and about African Americans I want to do more. Because Native Americans have also suffered. I have made a personal promise to share more diverse stories. Stories that represent people whose voice has been stifled, degraded, and underappreciated.

Americans can do more.

I will do more.

Diverse Book Recommendations: Native American Stories

Over the next week, like June Pride Month, Native American Book Recommendations will provide books that will add to young readers library. Helping them to better understand the diverseness of this world and the people who live in it.

The stories recommended today are Native American stories. Each book having been awarded or nominated the prestigious American Indian Youth Literature Award.

Take a moment to browse through Native American Book Recommendations and add them to your TBR. Once you’ve read them (one or all) make sure to share the books that have had an impact on your life.

Young Adult Native American Book Recommendations


#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women by Lisa Charleyboy

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book.

In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change.

Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People (ReVisioning American History for Young People Book 2) by Debbie Reese, Jean Mendoza, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Spanning more than 400 years, this classic bottom-up history told from the perspective of indigenous peoples explodes our national origin myths for young adult and middle grade readers

This new version of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States brings a painful but necessary reframing of our history to younger readers and teachers looking to better understand the legacy of Indigenous peoples’ resistance, resilience, and continued struggle against imperialism.

Going beyond the story of America as a country “discovered” by a few brave men in the “New World,” indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler-colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity.

Graphic Novel

Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett, Natasha Donovan (Illustrations)

Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape – they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore.

With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don’t?

Fire Starters by Jen Storm, Scott Henderson(Illustrations), Donovan Yaciuk (Color Artist)

Looking for a little mischief after discovering an old flare gun, Ron and Ben find themselves in trouble when the local gas bar on Agamiing Reserve goes up in flames, and they are wrongly accused of arson by the sheriff’s son.

As the investigation goes forward, community attitudes are revealed, and the truth slowly comes to light.

Historical Fiction

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

Lewis “Shoe” Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he’s not used to is white people being nice to him — people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force.

As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath.

But when everyone else is on Evan’s side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis’s home — will he still be his friend?

House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle

Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year’s Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls.

Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town’s people, humiliating him.

Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom.

Sci-Fi & LGBTQ

Love: Beyond Body, Space & Time by Hope Nicholson and David Alexander Robertson (Author), Richard Van Camp (Author), Daniel Heath Justice (Author), Darcie Little Badger  (Author)

A collection of indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBTQ and two-spirit characters.

These stories range from a transgender woman trying an experimental transition medication to young lovers separated through decades and meeting far in their own future.

Stories of machines and magic, love, and self-love.

Contemporary Fiction

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper.

The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town.

From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students — especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou’s little brother, who’s playing the Tin Man.

As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s?

Apple In the Middle by Dawn Quigley

Apple Starkington turned her back on her Native American heritage the moment she was called a racial slur. Not that she really even knew HOW to be an Indian in the first place. Too bad the white world doesn’t accept her either. So began her quirky habits to gain acceptance.

Apple’s name, chosen by her Indian mother on her deathbed, has a double meaning: treasured apple of my eye, but also the negative connotation: a person who is red, or Indian, on the outside, but white on the inside.

After her wealthy [white] father gives her the boot one summer, Apple reluctantly agrees to visit her Native American relatives on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota for the first time, which should be easy, but it’s not. Apple shatters Indian stereotypes and learns what it means to find her place in a world divided by color.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

I hope you found more books to add to your TBR in this Native American Book Recommendation.

Happy Reading ̴ Cece

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