Native American Heritage Month was established in 1990 as a time to celebrate and recognize Native Americans’ numerous contributions to the United States of America. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a large number of books being published that are written and illustrated by Indigenous people, and we’d love to see these #OwnVoices titles get a bit more love. Here are a few teen and young teen titles to check out!
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza, adapted from Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.
In this nonfiction title, which is an adaptation of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, teens will explore history told from Indigenous peoples’ perspectives. An abundance of information is covered, but in the end, it’s worth the deep dive.
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
The Indigenous people of North America are the only ones with the ability to dream. Now being hunted by those who want to harvest their dream-carrying bone marrow, Frenchie and his group must stay hidden in order to survive. Will they ever be able to defeat the marrow thieves? Perfect for those who love dystopian novels!
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith
At the beginning of senior year, Louise breaks up with her boyfriend after he mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her. She’s okay with it – she wants to focus on her friends, family, and working on the school newspaper. When editors pair her up with Joey, the new photojournalist, for a story about the school musical, sparks fly. Will Louise be able to open her heart to a new relationship? Contemporary romance, anyone?
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson
Morgan and Eli are two Indigenous children in foster care. While exploring their foster home, they find a secret portal in the attic which leads to a frozen, barren world. As they discover their new friends might be in danger, Morgan and Eli try to save them before it’s too late. Perfect for fans of fantasy!
Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley
Apple is trying to find her place in the world and is having a difficult time. After being called a slur for someone who is white and Native, she turns her back on her heritage. When her father forces her to visit her Native American relatives on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota for the first time, Apple tries to find a connection to her dead mother and rediscover her roots. A contemporary coming of age novel!
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
Lewis knows the ups and downs of living on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975. When George moves to town, the boys become friends. However, Lewis lies to hide the poverty his family experiences. Once George knows the truth, will he still want to be friends with Lewis? This historical fiction does not shy away from discussion of racial tensions and the realities of living on the reservation.
Continue celebrating Native American Heritage Month with the following:
For additional titles, ask your friendly neighborhood librarian, or check out this great resources page from the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition.
Written by Pamela Jayne
Youth Services Librarian