Children’s Book Picks for National Indigenous History Month

In Canada, the month of June celebrates National Indigenous History Month “to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is also an opportunity to recognize the strength of present-day Indigenous communities“.

Before moving on to talk book suggestions for National Indigenous History Month, I think we should briefly look at what’s going on in TODAY in Canada. Historical effects of trauma suffered from the atrocities of residential schools affect individuals, families, communities to this day. Government promises are made regularly to combat systemic racism, human rights abuses, police brutality, and over-representation in the criminal justice system. The neglect of reported crimes committed against Indigenous girls and women continues (see the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls). You can also take a look at author David Alexander Robertson’s thread regarding Indigenous individuals who have died within police custody or at the hands of police since April of this year.

As a librarian, I often turn to reader’s advisory when thinking ‘what can I do?’. How do I or can I support National Indigenous History Month in the face of historical and present-day tragedies? What can be done? Librarians often put together book lists. We recommend titles. We research. Continue educating, listening, reflecting, learning from mistakes, attend seminars, and support authors. Update collections. Listen. Amplify Indigenous voices. Change storytimes, update read aloud selections, or plan different book talks (if we’re in children’s librarianship).

As I spoke to in the previous post, combating (and dismantling) systemic racism cannot be accomplished by crafting book lists, by buying books, or just by reading. Taking ACTION, confronting racism, and critical assessment is also something one must take one. So, this reading list is but one something I can do in this space. Now. And something I can do year-round, in and outside of librarianship: continue to read and amplify Indigenous writers and illustrators, and do even more as a reader, reviewer and librarian to support Indigenous creators.

I will take the time now to feature picture books and board books by Indigenous authors, illustrators and creators. Some of the titles on this list are favourites, some are older, some are new (or not yet released!); just a few are children’s non-fiction. Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive; there are carefully put-together reading lists online for National Indigenous History Month (just check who is publishing the list and which voices are being featured). I would also like to note that Canada is home to some tremendous Indigenous-run publishers, as well as non-Indigenous publishers who feature Indigenous voices and creators. You can take a look through the catalogues of publishers such as: Inhabit Media, Theytus Books, Kegedonce Press, or browse online shops such as Native Northwest: Art by Indigenous Artists. Non-Indigenous publishers such as HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Pres), Second Story Press and Orca Book Publishers also publish and feature Indigenous creators in their catalogues.

Underneath the cover photo gallery you will find the list of titles and authors/illustrators. In no particular order, here are the titles:

  • Discovering Animals: English, French, Cree by Neepin Auger (board book)
  • Discovering Numbers: English, French, Cree by Neepin Auger (2nd ed.) (board book)
  • Learn & Play with First Nations and Native Art [various contributors] (board book)
  • Learn the Colours with Northwest Coast Native Art [various contributors] (board book)
  • Sharing Our World: Animals of the Native Northwest Coast [various contributors] (board book)
  • I’m Dreaming of…Animals of the Native Northwest by Melaney Gleeson-Lyall and other contributing artists (board book)
  • Mi’kmaw Animals by Alan Syliboy (board book)
  • Ojibway Animals by Jason Adair (board book)
  • Black and White: Visual Stimulation Images for Babies by Morgan Asoyuf (board book)
  • Where is Mouse Woman?: A Haida Journey by Gryn White (board book)
  • Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk, illus. Alexandria Neonakis (board book)
  • Life Cycles of Caribou by Monica Ittusardjuat, illus. Emma Pedersen (board book)
  • May We Have Enough to Share by Richard Van Camp, photographs by Tea & Bannock collective (board book)
  • Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns by Richard Van Camp, photographs by various contributors (board book)
  • Kiss by Kiss II Ocêtôwina by Richard Van Camp, translated by Mary Cardinal Collins (board book)
  • Little You by Richard Van Camp, illus. Julie Flett (board book)
  • We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp, illus. Julie Flett (board book)
  • My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illus. Julie Flett (board book)
  • Black Bear Red Fox: Colours in Cree by Julie Flett (board book)
  • We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers by Julie Flett (board book)
  • What’s My Superpower? by Aviaq Johnston, illus. Tim Mack
  • I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe, illus. Pauline Young
  • I’m Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas, illus. Pauline Young
  • The Owl and the Lemming by Roselynn Akulukjuk, illus. Amanda Sandland
  • Mamaqtuq! by The Jerry Cans, illus. Eric Kim
  • Fishing with Grandma by Maren Vsetula & Susan Avingaq, illus. Charlene Chua
  • Akilak’s Adventure by Deborah Kigjugalik Webster, illus. Charlene Chua
  • Elisapee and Her Baby Seagull by Nancy Mike, illus. by Charlene Chua
  • The Pencil by Susan Avingaq & Maren Vsetula, illus. Charlene Chua
  • A Walk on the Tundra by Rebecca Hainnu & Anna Ziegler, illus. Qin Leng
  • Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story adapted from the memories of Donald Uluadluak, illus.Qin Leng
  • ᓇᑦᑎᖅ Nattiq and the Land Of Statues by Barbara Landry, illus. Martha Kyak
  • The Littlest Sled Dog by Michael Kusugak, illus. Vladyana Krykorka
  • Sus Yoo II The Bear’s Medicine by Clayton Gauthier, translated by Danny Alexis & Theresa Austin
  • Keeshig and the Ojibwe Pterodactyls by Keeshig Spade & Celeste Pedri-Spade, illus. Robert Spade & Kiniw Spade
  • Tanna’s Owl by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, illus. Yong Ling Kang
  • In My Anaana’s Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok, illus. Lenny Lishchenko
  • Celebrating Toonik Time by Nadia Sammurtock, illus. Tim Mack
  • What Can Ataata Fix? by Nadia Sammurtok, illus. Emma Pedersen
  • A Walk on the Tundra by Rebecca Hainnu & Anna Ziegler, illus. Qin Leng
  • Wild Eggs: A Tale of Arctic Egg Collecting by Suzie Napayok-Short, illus. Jonathan Wright
  • In the Sky at Nighttime by Laura Deal, illus. Tamara Campeau
  • I Am Loved by Kevin and Mary Qamaniq-Mason, illus. Hwei Lim
  • Kits, Cubs, and Calves: An Arctic Summer by Suzie Napayok-Short, illus. by Tamara Campeau
  • The Muskox and the Caribou by Nadia Mike, illus. Tamara Campeau
  • Una Huna?: What is This? by Susan Aglukark | Illustrated by Amanda Sandland and Danny Christopher
  • Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt, illus. Amanda Strong
  • Spirit Bear: Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams by Cindy Blackstock, illus. Amanda Strong
  • Meennunyakaa II Blueberry Patch by Jennifer Leason, written and translated by Norman Chartrand
  • Amik Loves School: A Story of Wisdom (The Seven Teachings Stories) by Katherena Vermette, illus. Irene Kuziw
  • The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette, illus. Julie Flett
  • ᐅᓕᒍᖅ Alego by Ningeokuluk Teevee, translated by Nina Manning-Toonoo
  • Dragonfly Kites II Pimithaagansa by Tomson Highway, illus. Julie Flett
  • Caribou Song II Atihko Nikamon by Tomson Highway, illus. John Rombough
  • Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell, illus. Kim La Fave
  • Shin-chi’s Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell, illus. Kim LaFave
  • Amik Loves School: A Story of Wisdom (The Seven Teachings Stories) by Katherena Vermette, illus. Irene Kuziw
  • The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette, illus. Julie Flett
  • A Day with Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell, illus. Julie Flett
  • Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer : L’alfabet di Michif II Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet by Julie Flett
  • The Moccassins by Earl Einarson, illus. Julie Flett
  • Zoe and the Fawn by Catherine Jameson, illus. Julie Flett
  • Wild berries II Pikaci-mīnisa by Julie Flett
  • Birdsong by Julie Flett
  • When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson, illus. Julie Flett
  • You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith, illus. Danielle Daniel
  • Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel
  • The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson
  • The Train by Jodie Callaghan, illus. Georgia Lesley
  • It’s Time for Bed by Ceporah Mearns & Jeremy Debicki, illus. Tim Mack
  • When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith, illus. Nadine Neidhardt
  • Swift Fox All Along by Rebecca Thomas, illus. Maya McKibbon
  • The Origin of Day and Night by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt, illus. Lenny Lishchenko (non-fiction)
  • Sukaq and the Raven by Kerry McCluskey & Roy Goose, illus. by Soyeon Kim (non-fiction)
  • Making a Whole Person: Traditional Inuit Education by Monica Ittusardjuat, illus. Yong Ling Kang (non-fiction)

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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