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Uplifting native literature: picture books by Indigenous voices

Uplifting native literature: 

picture books by 

Indigenous voices

Indigenous voices

Indigenous literature matters!  We need to hear the native voices and let kids see themselves represented in literature.

    We are Water Protectors is written by Carole Lindstom who is Anishinabe/Metis and 
a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe.  It is illustrated by Michaela Goade of the Tlingit (pronounced Klinkit) and Haida tribes.  This book is a New York Times best seller and a winner of the 2021 Caldecott award, which is no small thing.  Water is our most precious resource and when a black snake tries to poison it, the water protector stands up to it.  It's a simple story that kids can understand.  The illustrations are simply beautiful.

    A classic you are probably familiar with is Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard.  He is a member of the Seminole nation.  OK maybe not a was written in 2019.  But I've been using it so long, I thought it was!  It is written in powerful verse.  It is about what fry bread is but also what it represents.  Make sure to read the authors note which gives you further insight into the language and the images shown. 

    I Sang You Down From the Stars is written by Tasha Spillet Sumner who is both Inninewak (Cree) and Trinadadian.  This book is also illustrated by the prolific Michaela Goade.  This is a perfect book to give to new parents. "I loved you before I met you.  Before I held you in my arms.  I sang you down from the stars."  The language is just so lyrical the illustrations are lovely.  Again make sure to read the authors and the illustrators note to gain more insight into the text and illustrations.

    Last one, We are grateful: Otsalihega by Traci Sorell who is a Cherokee Nation citizen.  Frane Lessac is from Australia. Otsalihega (oh-jah-LEE-hay-gah) is a Cherokee word is to express gratitude- "We are grateful". The Cherokee new year begins in the fall and ends in the summer and has many celebrations during the year.  Each page has a Cherokee word, the pronunciation, it is written in the language.  Go here to hear the words pronounced.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about indigenous voices and how to address it in the classroom.

What ways will you teach students about Native American culture?

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How can I make your job easier this year?  Let me know in the comments.  If I use your ideas for a blog post, you will win $10 to Teachers Pay Teachers.  Even better, if I use your ideas to make a resource in my store, LisaTeachR's Classroom, I'll send you a free copy of that resource! 


  1. Great suggestions here, and "I Sang You Down From the Stars" is calling my name for purchase now! I love to talk about books, and would love to join you sometime on Clubhouse! xoxo

  2. Great new ideas for teaching about a great culture!

  3. Great new ideas for teaching about a great culture!

  4. Great new ideas for teaching about a great culture!

  5. What a great collection of indigenous books; I just added them to my list!!I agree; it is so important to incorporate these into our curriculum! We are grateful: Otsalihega is one of my favorite books!

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