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Young Readers & Young Adults

Alexie, Sherman (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2007. Reprinted 2009.

This novel recounts the trials of a Native American teenager who decides to transfer to an off-reservation high school in an attempt to gain a better education. His Native peers on the reservation look upon him as a “traitor,” while his peers at his new high school regard him as an outsider. (Grade levels: 7-10)

Erdrich, Louise (Anishinabe). Love Medicine. 1984. Revised Edition, New York: The McGraw Hill Companies, 2000.

All of Erdrich’s novels focus on issues of medicine, health, and disease. Love Medicine, in particular, explores the loss of Native American spirituality and cultural identity in a set of inter-related chapters narrated by different characters. (Grade levels: 10+)

Hogan, Linda (Chickasaw). Power. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998.

All of Hogan’s novels revolve around issues of the sacred and healing. In Power, a sixteen-year-old Native American girl witnesses the killing of her clan’s sacred animal, the Florida panther, by her spiritual mentor.(Grade levels: 10+)

Gravelle, Karen. Soaring Spirits: Conversations with Native American Teens. New York: F. Watts, 1995.

This non-fiction publication includes photos and interviews with 17 teens who discuss growing up Native American today. (Grade levels: 7-12)

Wall, Steve, and Harvey Arden. Wisdomkeepers: Meetings with Native American Spiritual Elders. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., 1990. Reprinted 2006.

This non-fiction work chronicles Wall and Arden’s photographing and interviewing tribal elders from 20 Native nations over the course of ten years.(Grade levels: 6-12)

In addition, the following websites provide bibliographies of books about or by Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Hawaiian Natives for all levels of K-12 grades:

  • American Indian Library Association—American Indian Youth Services Literature Award
    This website lists children’s books that have received the American Indian Youth Services Literature Award, which is meant to honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians.

  • Caldwell, Naomi, Gabriella Kaye and Lisa A. Mitten. “‘I’ is for Inclusion: The Portrayal of Native Americans in Books for Young People.” American Indian Children’s Literature: Identifying and Celebrating the Good. Washington, D.C.: American Indian Library Association, 2007
    This PDF file provides an annotated bibliography of several Native American literature titles. Works included fall under the categories of books by Native authors for young people, books on contemporary Native Americans by Native as well as non-Native authors, and portrayals of Pocahontas/Jamestown.

  • Anthropology Outreach Office, Smithsonian Institution— “A Critical Bibliography on North American Indians for K-12”
    This website is a wonderful resource that provides an annotated bibliography of literature pertaining to North American Indians. Titles included fall under the categories of traditional stories, biographies, fiction, and non-fiction, while each section is divided by hemispheric region (e.g., Great Basin, Plateau, Northeast, Arctic, etc.)