Picture Book Highlights | Indigenous Peoples' Day

By Monica C. RSS Fri, October 8, 2021

This year, for the first time, Philadelphia will celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day on the 2nd Monday of October. It is a welcome and important step in recognizing and rethinking Native American history. It is also a celebration and acknowledgment of Indigenous Peoples' experiences and culture, past and present.

Here are some titles published in 2021 by First Nations authors and/or illustrators:

We Are Still Here written by Traci Sorell; illustrated by Frane Lessac

ebook available from Overdrive

Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future. Precise, lyrical writing presents topics including forced assimilation (such as boarding schools), land allotment and Native tribal reorganization, termination (the US government not recognizing tribes as nations), Native urban relocation (from reservations), self-determination (tribal self-empowerment), Native civil rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), religious freedom, economic development (including casino development), Native language revival efforts, cultural persistence, and nationhood.

I Sang You Down from the Stars written by Tasha Spillett-Sumner; illustrated by Michaela Goade

As she waits for the arrival of her new baby, a mother-to-be gathers gifts to create a sacred bundle. A white feather, cedar and sage, and a stone from the river. Each addition to the bundle will offer the new baby strength and connection to tradition, family, and community. As they grow together, mother and baby will each have gifts to offer each other.

Mii Maanda Ezhi-Gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know written by Brittany Luby; illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley

ebook available from Overdrive

In this lyrical story-poem, written in Anishinaabemowin and English, a child and grandmother explore their surroundings, taking pleasure in the familiar sights that each new season brings. We accompany them through warm summer days full of wildflowers, bees, and blueberries. We explore during the fall, when bears feast before hibernation and forest mushrooms are ripe for harvest. Winter mornings begin in darkness as deer, mice, and other animals search for food, while spring brings green shoots poking through melting snow and the chirping of peepers.

Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman written by Sharice Davids with Nancy K. Myers; illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley

ebook available from Overdrive

When Sharice Davids was young, she never thought she’d be in Congress. And she never thought she’d be one of the first Native American women in Congress. During her campaign, she heard from a lot of doubters. They said she couldn’t win because of how she looked, who she loved, and where she came from. But here’s the thing: everyone’s path looks different and everyone’s path has obstacles. This is the triumphant story of Sharice Davids’ path to Congress.

Nibi’s Water Song written by Sunshine Tenasco; illustrated by Chief Lady Bird

When Nibi, an Indigenous girl, turns the tap in her house, only mucky brown water comes out. That starts her on a search for clean water to drink. Though she must face polluted rivers, unfriendly neighbors, and her own temporary discouragement, Nibi's joyful energy becomes a catalyst for change and action as her community rallies around her to make clean drinking water available for all.

Josie Dances written by Denise K. Lajimodiere; illustrated by Angela Erdrich

An Ojibwe girl practices her dance steps, gets help from her family, and is inspired by the soaring flight of Migizi (the eagle), as she prepares for her first powwow.

Look, Grandma! Ni, Elisi! written by Art Coulson; illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight

Bo wants to find the perfect container to show off his traditional marbles for the Cherokee National Holiday in this exploration of volume and capacity.

On the Trapline written by David Robertson; illustrated by Julie Flett

ebook available from Overdrive

A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning—a trapline. Traplines are where people hunt and live off the land, and it is also was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, "Is this your trapline?" Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago—a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now.

The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation written by Alice McGinty; illustrated by Shonto Bengay

ebook available in Overdrive

Underneath the New Mexico sky, a Navajo boy named Cody finds that his family’s barrels of water are empty. He checks the chicken coop—nothing. He walks down the road to the horses’ watering hole—dry. Meanwhile, a few miles away, Darlene Arviso drives a school bus and picks up students for school. After dropping them off, she heads to another job: she drives her big yellow tanker truck to the water tower, fills it with three thousand gallons of water, and returns to the reservation, bringing water to Cody’s family, and many, many others. Here is the incredible and inspiring true story of a Native American woman who continuously gives back to her community and celebrates her people.

Be sure to check our catalog and Overdrive Kids eReading Room for these titles and many more being added.

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