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Some of the books on this list are older and some of the books are modern. It is great to share indigenous texts with your little ones that take place in the present day, because we often see representations of a more historical time and way of life. Indigenous children will have the opportunity to see themselves within the text (what we call the “mirror” in the librarianship/educational field) and children who are not Indigenous will have insight into other cultures (a “window”).

All the books in this collection are an expression of storytelling, a method of teaching that is important to Indigenous Peoples.

Bowwow powwow : bagosenjige-niimi?idim

Child, Brenda J.

When Uncle and Windy Girl attend a powwow, Windy watches the dancers and listens to the singers. She eats tasty food and joins family and friends around the campfire. Later, Windy falls asleep under the stars. Uncle's stories inspire visions in her head: a bowwow powwow, where all the dancers are dogs. In these magical scenes, Windy sees veterans in a Grand Entry, and a visiting drum group, and traditional dancers, grass dancers, and jingle-dress dancers--all with telltale ears and paws and tails. All celebrating in song and dance. All attesting to the wonder of the powwow

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Cover of picture book called Dragonfly Kites
Dragonfly Kites

Highway, Tomson, 1951- author.

Cree brothers Cody and Joe, their parents, and their dog Ootsie spend the summers on the shores of a lake in Manitoba, where the boys play with the objects they find, make pets of the animals, and fly the dragonflies like kites.

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First laugh : welcome, baby!

Tahe, Rose Ann

A Navaho family welcomes a new baby into the family with love and ceremony, eagerly waiting for that first special laugh. Includes brief description of birth customs in different cultures.

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Fry bread : a Native American family story

This book tells the story of a post-colonial food that is a shared tradition for Native American families all across the North American continent. Includes a recipe and an extensive author note that delves into the social ways, foodways, and politics of America's 573 recognized tribes.

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Cover of a picture book called Jingle Dancer
Jingle Dancer

Smith, Cynthia Leitich

Jenna, a member of the Muscogee, or Creek, Nation, borrows jingles from the dresses of several friends and relatives so that she can perform the jingle dance at the powwow. Includes a note about the jingle dance tradition and its regalia.

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My Heart Fills with Happiness

Smith, Monique Gray, author.

A board book that invites young readers to reflect on what makes them happy.

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Navajo ABC : a Diné alphabet book

Tapahonso, Luci

Letters of the alphabet describe aspects of Navajo life, joining the letter "A" with Arroyo, "B" with belt, "C" with cradleboard, and so on.

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Powwow day

Sorell, Traci

Because she has been very ill and weak, River cannot join in the dancing at this year's tribal powwow, she can only watch from the sidelines as her sisters and cousins dance the celebration--but as the drum beats she finds the faith to believe that she will recover and dance again.

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cover of picture book
Sweetest Kulu

Kalluk, Celina

"This beautiful bedtime poem, written by acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic. Lyrically and tenderly told by a mother speaking to her own little "Kulu," an Inuktitut term of endearment often bestowed upon babies and young children, this visually stunning book is infused with the traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants."-- Provided by publisher.

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The cloud artist

Maret, Sherri

Leona, a little Choctaw girl, is the first cloud painter to be born in generations. She likes nothing better than to use the big blue sky as a canvas to the delight of her people. Then a traveling man comes to town and invites the little cloud artist to join the carnival, and Leona must decide what kind of artist she is meant to be.

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Waa’aka’ : the bird who fell in love with the sun

Alvitre, Cindi

Waa’aka’ was born when the earth was soft and the waters were new. It was the beginning of time.” So begins Cindi Alvitre’s vivid and multifaceted telling of a traditional Tongva creation story from Southern California. Waa’aka’ follows the title character, a beautiful bird who falls in love with Tamet, the sun, and tries to follow him up to the sky. Accompanied by richly colorful illustrations from Carly Lake, the book touches deftly on themes like the unintended consequences of greed and the importance of working together. A rendition of one of California’s oldest tales, Waa’aka’ is a beautiful children’s book in the classic style.

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We are water protectors

Lindstrom, Carole

Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all... When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people's water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth's most sacred resource. Inspired by the many indigenous-led movements across North America, this bold and lyrical picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth's water from harm and corruption.

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When We are Kind. 2 adults and 5 children sit in the grass in a circle.
When we are kind

Gray Smith, Monique (author). Neidhardt, Nicole, (illustrator).

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Cover of picture book called When We Were Alone
When We Were Alone

Robertson, David, 1977- author.

"When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother's garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength." -- Provided by publisher

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Wild berries = Pikaci-mīnisa

Flett, Julie author, illustrator.

Clarence, a young Cree Native American, and his grandmother pick blueberries together as they sing, look out for the animals, and enjoy sampling the fruit.

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Cover of picture book called You Hold Me Up
You Hold Me Up

Gray Smith, Monique, 1968- author.

Diverse families and friends help to hold one another up by being kind, sharing, learning, playing, laughing, and doing other supportive things together.

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