Native American Heritage Month

When I was a sixth grade teacher, one thing I always wanted more of were good books that opened up a dialogue with students about a variety of historical topics. I wanted more materials that were catalysts to deeper conversations about America’s complicated history. I tried to find books that weren’t outdated and that opened students’ eyes to many different cultures without generalizations or stereotypes.

With Native American Heritage Month and the Thanksgiving holiday both coming up in November, I thought it would be the perfect time to explore some of the books I think could facilitate these deeper conversations, and allow students to have a better understanding of America’s complex past which includes multiple narratives and perspectives. The list that I compiled consists of books that tell stories about characters from indigenous cultures, and many also touch on topics including Thanksgiving, the Trail of Tears, boarding schools that many Native Americans were sent to, and the American Indian Rights Movement.

Many of these books explore some tough topics, and it is imperative that students are exposed to these stories. I believe they are engaging books that should be available in classrooms all year, not just the month of November but this might be a great time to highlight the following titles. If you know of others not mentioned below, please post them in the comments!

Elementary School


Dragonfly Kites by Tomson Highway. 2016. 9781897252635. 1-3.

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson. 2015. 9781419712203. 4-6.

The Mishomis Book: The Voice of the Ojibway by Edward Benton-Banai. 2010. 9780816673827. K-Adult.

Chukfi Rabbit’s Big, Bad, Bellyache: A Trickster Tale by Greg Rodgers. 2014. 9781935955276. 1-4.    

 The Elders are Watching by David Bouchard. 2004. 9781551926414. 4-7.

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace. 2004. 9780792261391. 3-6.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Jake Swamp. 1995. 9781880000540. K-3.

Thundermaker by Alan Syliboy. 2015. 9781771083294. K-2.

Mission to Space by John Herrington. 2016. 9781935684473. K-3.

Middle School




Talking Leaves by Joseph Bruchac. 2017. 9780142422984. 4-7.

Crying Rocks by Janet Taylor Lisle. 2017. 9781481479769. 6-9.

Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender by S D Nelson. 2017. 9781419723131. 4-6.

Runs with Courage by Joan M Wolf. 2017. 9781585369850. 4-6.

American Indian Rights Movement by Sarah Machajewski. 2017. 9781499426755. 4-6.

I am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis. 2016. 9781927583944. 3-6.

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost. 2015. 9781250062895. 5-8.

How I became a Ghost by Tim Tingle. 2013. 9781937054533. 4-7.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall. 2015. 9781419707858. 4-8.

High School




Sioux Code Talkers of World War II by Andrea M. Page. 2017. 9781455622436. 7-12.

Our Stories Remember: American Indian History, Culture, and Values through Storytelling by Joseph Bruchac. 2016. 9781682751404. 10-adult.

Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection by Matt Dembicki. 2010. 9781555917241. 5-12.

Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices by Lisa Charleyboy. 2016. 9781554516865. 7-12.

If I ever Get out of Here by Eric Gansworth. 2015. 9780545417310. 7-9.

Round House by Louise Erdrich. 2013. 9780062065254. 10-adult.

Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp. 2016. 9781771621137. 9-12.

Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for TodayMoccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today by Lori Marie Carlson. 2005. 9780066239576. 8-12.

#Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women by Lisa Charleyboy. 2017. 9781554519576. 7-12.



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