September 30th is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – a day created to provide all of us with an opportunity to gain awareness, commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation and reflect on the impact of residential schools, which more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forced to attend between the 1870s and 1997.
In recent years, there has been a growing demand for diverse and inclusive literature for children. Recognizing the importance of representation, many Indigenous authors have emerged, sharing their stories and experiences through captivating books. This book round-up aims to highlight some of the recommended books for children written by Indigenous authors. These books not only entertain but also provide a valuable opportunity for young readers to learn about Indigenous cultures, traditions, and perspectives.
Una Huna: What Is This? - Susan Aglukark: Ukpik loves her life at camp in the North. When a trader from the south arrives, she’s excited to learn all about new tools he brings with him but worries they will change everything in camp. After a conversation with her grandmother, Ukpik realizes that learning new things will not change her love for her family or her life.
Stolen Words - Melanie Florence: The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language – Cree – he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again.
I Sang You Down from the Stars - Tasha Spillett-Sumner: Drawing from Indigenous creation stories and traditional teachings and illustrated in dazzling watercolors, I Sang You Down from the Stars is a tribute to the bond between mother and child.
Life Cycles of Caribou - Monica Ittusardjuat: This bilingual book (with text in Inuktitut syllabics, Inuktitut Roman orthography, and English) shares six Inuktitut terms for caribou throughout their life cycles, giving the youngest of readers an understanding of the rich Inuktitut terminology for these important animals.
You Hold Me Up - Monique Gray Smith: This vibrant picture book, beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other’s well-being in their everyday actions.
A Walk on the Tundra - Rebecca Hainnu: A Walk on the Tundra follows Inuujaq, a little girl who travels with her grandmother onto the tundra. There, Inuujaq learns that these tough little plants are much more important to Inuit than she originally believed.
Nibi is Water = Nibi aawon nbiish - Joanne Robertson: Babies and toddlers can follow Nibi as it rains and snows, splashes or rows, drips and sips. Written from an Anishinaabe water protector’s perspective, the book is in dual language: English and Anishinaabemowin.
The Pencil - Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula: Based on author Susan Avingaq’s childhood memories of growing up in an iglu, this charming story introduces young readers to the idea of using things wisely.
Sweetest Kulu - Celina Kalluk: This book is infused with the traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants. It describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic.
Shi-shi-etko - Nicola I. Campbell: An account of a child who finds solace all around her, even though she is on the verge of great loss -- a loss that native people have endured for generations because of the residential schools system.
In my Anaana's Amautik - Nadia Sammurtok: This beautiful book invites readers into the amautik—the pouch in the back of a mother’s parka used to carry a child—to experience everything through the eyes of the baby nestled inside.
Wild Berries = Pikaci-Minisa - Julie Flett: Clarence and his grandmother pick wild blueberries and meet ant, spider, and fox in a beautiful woodland landscape.
The inclusion of books written by Indigenous authors is essential to provide children with a diverse range of perspectives and experiences. The recommended books mentioned in this round-up offer engaging stories that educate, inspire, and foster empathy. By reading these books, children can develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for Indigenous cultures, helping to build a more inclusive and compassionate society.
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