Monday, October 10th is Indigenous Peoples Day and November is National Native American Heritage Month. Books are an excellent way to celebrate and educate during these holidays and throughout the year. From award-winning picture books to nonfiction and young adult, here is a list of books by indigenous writers and illustrators:


The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 – Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

Author: Traci Sorell

Traci Sorell is the author of Sibert, Orbis Pictus, AILA American Indian Youth Literature Award, and Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. Her title Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer was also named an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and a AILA American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book. She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.

Illustrator: Natasha Donovan

Natasha Donovan is the illustrator of the award-winning Mothers of Xsan series (written by Brett Huson). She illustrated the graphic novel Surviving the City (written by Tasha Spillett), which won a Manitoba Book Award and received an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA) honor. She also illustrated Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer which won an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA). Natasha is Métis, and spent her early life in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although she moved to the United States to marry a mathematician, she prefers to keep her own calculations to the world of color and line. She lives in Washington.

Praise for Classified

American Indian Youth Literature Awards, Honor Book

Kirkus Best Children’s Books

NSTA/CBC Best STEM Books for Students

★”A stellar addition to the genre that will launch careers and inspire for generations, it deserves space alongside stories of other world leaders and innovators.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

If I Go Missing

  • Interest Level: Grade 7 – Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Author: Brianna Jonnie

Brianna Jonnie is an Ojibwe. Brianna has been awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Vice-Regal award and the Make a Difference community award for her volunteer work.

Illustrator: Nshannacappo

Nshannacappo is a Nakawe (Saulteaux) from Ditibineya-ziibiing (Rolling River First Nations). He’s an artist, graphic novelist, poet, writer, and contributed to the anthologies Sovereign Traces Volumes 1 and 2.

Praise for If I Go Missing

“Jonnie’s words put a personal face on this critical issue, and they will resonate with readers long after the last page.” —Booklist

★“Jonnie, Shingoose, and Shannacappo train a poignant spotlight onto the difficulties Indigenous women face. Every library should have a copy of this potent work.” —starred, School Library Journal

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults

Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

  • Interest Level: Grade 7 – Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 8

Author: Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith is an award winning, bestselling author, and professional consultant. She has written eight books including Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation, My Heart Fills with Happiness, You Hold Me Up, Lucy and Lola, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience, and When We Are Kind. Monique’s most recent novel, Tilly and the Crazy Eights, was long listed for Canada Reads 2021. Monique is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish. She lives in British Columbia, Canada, with her teenage twins.

Author: Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Her first book, Gathering Moss, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing. Her writings have appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain, and numerous scientific journals. She lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.

Illustrator: Nicole Neidhardt

Nicole Neidhardt is a Diné (Navajo) artist of Kiiyaa’áanii clan. She received her MFA from OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario, and a bachelor of fine arts with a business minor from the University of Victoria. She is the cofounder of the Innovative Young Indigenous Leaders Symposium, alongside Gina Mowatt, and is the cofounder of Groundswell Climate Collective, a group that is fighting the climate crisis through resiliency and artwork. She currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Praise for Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults

★”Both an urgent, essential call to action and an uplifting love letter.” –starred, Kirkus Reviews

★”Smith smartly streamlines language while staying true to the narrative’s core concepts by adding brief sidebars that explain featured terminology, pose reflection questions, and highlight important passages, inviting collaborative discussion and acting as a call to action.”—starred, Publishers Weekly


  • Interest Level: Grade 3 – Grade 6
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

Author: Lise Erdrich

Lisa Erdrich was born in Breckenridge, Minnesota, and grew up in North Dakota. She is a member of the Turtle Mountain band of Plains-Ojibway. In addition to being a writer, she has worked in Indian health and education for many years.

Illustrator: Julie Buffalohead

Julie Buffalohead began her art studies at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and received her MFA from Cornell University. Of Ponca heritage, she spent the majority of her time at Cornell researching the traditional artwork of Native American people. Buffalohead’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Praise for Sacagawea

Carter G. Woodson Book Award

Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year

ILA Teacher’s Choices

Deb Haaland

First Native American Cabinet Secretary

From the Series Gateway Biographies

  • Interest Level: Grade 4 – Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 5

Author: Jill Doerfler

Jill Doerfler (White Earth Anishinaabe) is a professor and department head of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her primary area of scholarly interest is American Indian identity with a focus on Anishinaabe citizenship.

Author: Matthew J. Martinez

Matthew J. Martinez received his Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota (2008). He previously served as First Lieutenant Governor at Ohkay Owingeh and has researched and published in the areas of Pueblo Indian Studies and New Mexico History.

Powwow Summer

  • Interest Level: Grade 8 – Grade 12   ·  
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Author: Nahanni Shingoose

Nahanni Shingoose is Saulteaux. She is an elementary teacher and author of Indigenous content, including teacher resources, picture books, graphic novels, and fiction for teens and young adults.

Jordin Tootoo

The Highs and Lows in the Journey of the First Inuk to Play in the NHL

From the Series Lorimer Recordbooks

  • Interest Level: Grade 7 – Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Author: Melanie Florence

Melanie Florence is the author of several award-winning fiction and non-fiction books about Indians. She is of Plains Cree and Scottish descent. She lives in lives in Toronto with her family.

For more booklist to prepare your classrooms click here!

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