Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month! Indigenous people are a vital part of the United States and have had a huge impact on the country. November is a perfect time to celebrate and appreciate this significance, as well as make sure that readers are educated on the history, traditions, and stories of Native American people. Read on to see a list of some of our favorite books focusing on Native American culture and the way that Indigenous people have influenced society.

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer and Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt

Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Braiding Sweetgrass cover
  • Interest Level: Grade 7 – Grade 12

Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things—from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen—provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Adapted for young adults by Monique Gray Smith, this new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. With informative sidebars, reflection questions, and art from illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation.

“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

“A book that is entirely in a class of its own, this belongs in every collection for teens.” — starred, School Library Journal

Carey Price: How a First Nations Kid Became a Superstar Goaltender by Catherine Rondina

From the Series Lorimer Recordbooks

Carey Price cover
  • Interest Level: Grade 7 – Grade 12

Twenty years ago, Carey Price was flying hundreds of miles across the country so he could play on the nearest organized hockey team. Today, he is the highest-paid goalie in the NHL. But he’s never forgotten where he started.

The son of an NHL draftee and the chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation, Carey got his start on skates as a toddler. The natural athlete went on to become the top amateur player in Canada in 2002, getting drafted fifth overall by the Montreal Canadiens three years later. Now one of the most recognizable figures in hockey, Carey credits his success to his community of Anahim Lake, where hard work and commitment often face off against remoteness and cost. Throughout his incredible career, he’s taken every opportunity possible to encourage all young people, especially those who share his Indigenous background, to follow their dreams.

“An inspiring story, especially for hockey fans and not just for reluctant teen readers.” — Kirkus

Deb Haaland: First Native American Cabinet Secretary by Jill Doerfler and Matthew J. Martinez

From the Series Gateway Biographies

Deb Haaland cover
  • Interest Level: Grade 4 – Grade 8

In 2021, Deb Haaland made history as the first Indigenous cabinet secretary. Serving as Secretary of the Interior, Haaland has championed climate and the rights of Native peoples. Discover Haaland’s early life, her political career, and more.

The Warriors by Joseph Bruchac

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

A Junior Library Guild Selection

The Warriors cover
  • Interest Level: Grade 4 – Grade 6

When twelve-year-old Jake Forrest’s mother gets a job in a new city, everything changes. He has to move away from the Iroquois reservation he’s lived on his entire life—away from his aunt and uncle, and away from the friends he plays lacrosse with. The lacrosse coach and players at his new school in Washington, D.C., believe that winning is everything, and they don’t know anything about the ways of his people. As Jake struggles to find a place where he truly belongs, tragedy strikes and he must find out who he really is. Can he find courage to face the warrior within—the warrior who values peace and leads other to more noble pursuits than outscoring the opposition?

“The author shares the richness of the Native American culture through storeis and the game of lacrosse.”

The Reading Teacher

Navajo Code Talkers by Stuart A. Kallen

From the Series Heroes of World War II (Alternator Books®)

Navajo Code Talkers cover
  • Interest Level: Grade 3 – Grade 6

In the South Pacific in 1944 and 1945, military battles raged between the United States and Japan. Surrounded by rattling bullets and exploding bombs, a group of Navajo Marines sent secret messages back and forth. They used a code they had created from the Navajo language, a code the enemy was never able to crack. These young men had been recruited from their homes in the American Southwest. They brought with them incredible physical stamina and a language that had never been written down. Learn more about the Navajo code talkers—brave, creative heroes who used their unbreakable code to help the Allies win the war.

A River’s Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn by Patricia Newman, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

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

A Junior Library Guild Selection

A River's Gifts cover
  • Interest Level: Grade 3 – Grade 6

A mighty river. A long history.

For thousands of years, the Elwha river flowed north to the sea. The river churned with salmon, which helped feed bears, otters, and eagles. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, known as the Strong People located in the Pacific Northwest, were grateful for the river’s abundance. All that changed in the 1790s when strangers came who did not understand the river’s gifts. The strangers built dams, and the environmental consequences were disastrous.

Sibert honoree Patricia Newman and award-winning illustrator Natasha Donovan join forces to tell the story of the Elwha, chronicling how the Strong People successfully fought to restore the river and their way of life.

“Beautifully illustrated and informative.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Effectively using a compelling story to illustrate the concept of rewilding, this informative, striking presentation is powerful in its hopeful story that integrates history, environmental appreciation, and explanations of the interdependence of species in a landscape and the politics necessary to save them.” — starred, Booklist

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

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

An American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award Honor Picture Book

Classified cover
  • Interest Level: Grade 2 – Grade 5

Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.

Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross’s journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all.

“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

“[A] valuable addition to units on Indigenous individuals or women in STEM.” — Booklist

Maria Tallchief: Native America’s Prima Ballerina by Jennifer Marino Walters, illustrated by Nigel Dobbyn

From the Series Beginner Biography (LOOK! Books ™)

Maria Tallchief cover
  • Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2

Maria Tallchief was inspired to dance while watching Osage dancers as a child in Oklahoma. For tribal ceremonies only men were allowed to dance. But, Maria went on to become America’s first prima ballerina.

Sequoyah: Man of Many Words by Jeri Cipriano, illustrated by Scott R. Brooks

From the Series Beginner Biography (LOOK! Books ™)

Sequoyah cover
  • Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2

Sequoyah created a way of writing the Cherokee language 200 years ago. Thanks to Sequoyah, the Cherokee today know more about their history and native language than almost any other tribe in North America.

Discover more great Lerner books here!

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