As we honor Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month, it’s important to have open conversations and encourage your children to ask questions about this heritage. Indigenous children’s books can be a great place to start. Plus, reading is an interactive activity that includes both you, the parent, and the child.

No matter your little one’s reading level, it’s never too early to start learning (or reading) about Indigenous history and issues. This colorful roundup of Indigenous stories includes a little bit of everything from lyrically written picture books to beautifully illustrated board books, and even a children’s bedtime poem—all of which feature main Indigenous characters and storylines. 

8 Indigenous children’s books to add to your child’s bookshelf


1. Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child; Illustrations by Jonathan Thunder

Dubbed “a powwow tale for the ages,” this children’s book centers around a character named Windy Girl and her dog, Itchy Boy. Readers learn about her family’s traditional powwows where they eat, dance, sing, and recount long-ago stories while around a campfire, under the stars.

Ages: Preschool – 3


2. Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Kevin Noble Maillard; Illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal

A 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor Winner, Fry Bread is a beautifully versed picture book about a modern Native American family.

Ages: Preschool – 1


3. Birdsong by Julie Flett

New to the neighborhood, young Katherena finds solace in an elderly woman named Agnes, who resides next door. The two have a lot in common. They love arts and crafts and find beauty in spending time outside with birds and nature; but when Agnes falls ill, Katherena feels like her world is being turned upside down.

Ages: Preschool – 3


4. All Around Us by Xelena Gonzalez; Illustrations by Adriana Garcia

In Xelena Gonzalez’s debut picture book, she writes about the strong bond between a grandfather and granddaughter, who embark on a journey to learn about the “circles” or cycles of life and nature, and what it means to be truly present in this half of the circle.

Ages: Preschool – 2


5. Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk; Illustrations by Alexandria Neonakis

Told through the heart and eyes of a new Inuit mom, Sweetest Kulu depicts “the traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants” through lovely illustrations of a newborn receiving gifts from all the cute Arctic animals. This board book makes for a thoughtful bedtime poem.

Ages: Baby and up


6. We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstorm; Illustrations by Michaela Goade

In this New York Times bestselling picture book, which is inspired by real events, a young water protector stands up to fight the evil black snake that is threatening to wipe out the Earth’s water resources.

Ages: Preschool – 1


7. My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith; Illustrations by Julie Flett

What makes your child happy? What brings a smile to their face? Monique Gray Smith alongside famed illustrator Julie Flett created this board book to inspire little ones to contemplate the things in life that bring them joy. Per Amazon, these two creatives joined forces “to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families.”

Ages: Preschool and up


8. When We Were Alone by David Robertson; Illustrations by Julie Flett

Intrigued and a little confused, a young girl asks her Cree grandmother about the things that make her “different” from other people in their neighborhood, like her grandmother’s braided hair, her colorful clothes, their family traditions, and why she chooses to speak Cree all the time.

Ages: K – 2

A version of this post was published November 6, 2021. It has been updated.