Books

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kids

From beautiful board books to compelling tales to trenchant reads, here are great stories about Indigenous culture and issues to add to your bookshelf.

By Selena Mills

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kids

Sweetest Kulu

Written by Celina Kalluk and illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis, Inhabit Media (ages 0-6) In this lyrical bedtime poem, a mother tells her child—her “Kulu,” an Inuktitut term of endearment for babies and young kids—about the gifts she has received from the animals of the Arctic.

$11, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Inhabit Media

Welcome Song for Baby

Written by Richard Van Camp, Orca Books (ages 1-3) This lyrical lullaby board book has a diverse array of cute and charming photos to match.

$11, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Orca Books

Little You

Written by Richard Van Camp and illustrated by Julie Flett, Orca Books (ages 0-3) This magically illustrated ode to newborn babies details the tender, loving moments that new parents experience in poetic, meditative prose. 

$11, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Orca Books

Good Morning World and Goodnight World

Artwork by Paul Windsor (Good Morning World) and Various artists (Goodnight World), Native Northwest Canada (ages 0-3) Featuring stunning artwork full of animals, birds and sea life greeting the day (or saying goodnight), this charming book will capture the attention of your youngest reader.

$5, amazon.ca and $11, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Native Northwest Canada

Discovering Animals, Discovering Numbers, and Discovering Words

Written by Neepin Auger, Rocky Mountain Books (ages 0-3) This dynamic series of English, French and Cree early-learning translation books combines vivid painted illustrations with simple concepts.

Discovering Animals: $12, indigo.ca, Discovering Numbers: $8, indigo.ca, Discovering Words: $12, indigo.ca  

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Rocky Mountain Books

Cradle Me

Written by Debby Slier, Star Bright Books (ages 0-3) This beautiful board book features close-up photographs of babies wrapped in traditional baby carriers known as cradleboards to many Indigenous peoples.

$17, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Star Bright Books

Owls See Clearly at Night

Illustrated by Julie Flett, Simply Read books (ages 3-5) This beautiful alphabet book takes readers on a sonic journey through the Michif language of the Métis.

$19, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Simply Read Books

When We Were Alone

Written by David Alexander Robertson and illustrated by Julie Flett , Portage & Main Press (grades K-3) Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and its calls to action for educators to begin teaching students about the legacy of residential schools as early as kindergarten, this is an empowering story about a difficult time in history.

$18, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Portage & Main Press

Shin-chi’s Canoe

Written by Nicola I. Campbell and illustrated by Kim Lafave, Groundwood Books (grades K-2) This heart-rending story follows a brother and sister in a residential school who can’t speak in their language and are forced to practise traditions and adhere to belief systems that are not their own. However, they find peace and strength by connecting to Mother Earth and the water. 

$19, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Groundwood Books

Wild Berries

Written and illustrated by Julie Flett and translated by Earl N. Cook, Simply Read Books (grades K-1) Choice words are given in both English and their sonorous equivalent in Swampy Cree dialect to highlight the magic and fun of something as simple as blueberry picking.

$19, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Simply Read Books

What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?

Written by Richard Van Camp and illustrated By George Littlechild, Children’s Book Press (grades K-3) Few children’s authors can tackle the complexities of cultural identity with such dark humour, grit and poetic spirit as Richard Van Camp, who has written more than 15 children, teen and young-adult books. 

$10, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Children's Book Press

Jingle Dancer

Written by Cynthia Leitich Smith and illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright, HarperCollins (grades K-3) Indigenous traditions meet urban and contemporary lifestyles in this story about a young girl who is determined to become a strong and captivating jingle dress dancer, just like her grandmother.

$22, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: HarperCollins

My Heart Fills with Happiness

Written by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Julie Flett, Orca Books (ages 3-5) This gorgeous board book exhibits various types of cultural activities, foods, celebrations and everyday activities that bring joy and pride to a young Indigenous child’s life.

$10, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Orca Books

You Hold Me Up

Written by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel, Orca Books (grades K-3) This straightforward and progressive story focuses on the importance of love, unity and support through everyday actions.

$20, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Orca Books

Akilak’s Adventure

Written by Deborah Kigjugalik Webster and illustrated by Charlene Chua, Inhabit Media (grades K-3) A grand adventure rooted in the remarkable traditions of Inuit people, this hunting journey tells the tale of a young girl who has great skill as a hunter and is responsible for finding food for her family. 

$11, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Inhabit Media

Stolen Words

Written by Melanie Florence and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, Second Story Press (grades 1-3) In this exquisite story about the generational impact of stolen (but not lost) languages, a granddaughter makes a commitment and embarks on a healing journey to help her grandfather reclaim his language. 

$20, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Second Story Press

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox

Written and illustrated by Danielle Daniel, Groundwood books (grades K-2) This captivating book takes young readers on a visual journey into the mythology of Anishinaabe totem animals.

$10, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Groundwood Books

The Sharing Circle: Stories about First Nations Culture

Written by Theresa Meuse and illustrated by Arthur Stevens, Nimbus Publishing (grades 1-3) This collection of seven short stories explores First Nations heritage, spiritual practices and cultural traditions. 

$14, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Nimbus Publishing

The Water Walker

Written by Joanne Robertson, Second Story Press (grades 1-3) This delightful book is based on a true story about Josephine Mandamin, who has walked with other women, men and youth around all the Great Lakes—from the four salt waters, or oceans, to Lake Superior—as water protectors. It inspires young readers to discover how they, too, have the power to change the world. 

$17, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Second Story Press

The Seven Teachings Stories Series

Written by Katherena Vermette and illustrated by Irene Kuziw, Portage & Main Press (grades K-3) Inspired by the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Anishinaabe (love, wisdom, humility, courage, respect, honesty and truth), these early-reader stories are set in urban landscapes, where Indigenous children tell familiar stories about home, school and community.

$10, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Portage & Main Press

Rabbit and Bear Paws Series: Sacred Seven Collection

Written by Chad Solomon, Tanya Leary and Christopher Meyer, Little Spirit Bear Productions (grades K-3) The series includes seven titles on the Seven Grandfather Teachings: courage, honesty, humility, love, respect, truth and wisdom. Two brothers and their friend humorously learn the true meaning of these traditional values by copying the actions of each book’s featured animal or bird. The result is seven fun-filled stories as the three friends discover something about the natural world and learn important lessons along the way. 

$9+, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Little Spirit Bear Productions

The Thundermaker

Written by Alan Syliboy, Nimbus Publishing (grades K-3) In this dazzling mixed-media book, Big Thunder shares the traditional teachings of making thunder and passes on this responsibility to his son, Little Thunder, to continue to provide for their people.

$20, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Nimbus Publishing

When I Was Eight

Written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and‎ Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, Annick Press (grades 1-4) Based on the bestselling memoir Fatty Legs, the sombre yet inspirational story of Olemaun Pokiak (whose name was changed to Margaret by the nuns) follows a young Inuit girl who confronted her adversaries in a residential school with strength, resilience and humour. 

$9, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Annick Press

A Day With Yayah

Written by Nicola I. Campbell and illustrated by Julie Flett, Tradewind Books (grades K-4) Young readers are transported on a bilingual journey in which the power of practising Indigenous traditions and family values shapes strong, patient, smart and loving kids.

$20, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Tradewind Books

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker

Written by Robbie Robertson and illustrated By David Shannon, Abrams Books (grades 4+) This is the story of Hiawatha, the legendary historical figure who helped form the great Iroquois nation.

$25, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Abrams Books

I Am Not A Number

Written by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer and illustrated by‎ Gillian Newland, Second Story Press (grades 3-6) This emotional, compelling and inspiring story tells the tale of a young girl whose parents obeyed the law and sent their daughter to a residential school but decided not to send her back and face the colonial consequences after learning about the abuses she endured. 

$20, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Second Story Press

Sila and the Land

Written by Shelby Angalik, Ariana Roundpoint and‎ Lindsay Dupre, Ed-Ucation Publishing (grades K-3) Three young Indigenous women collaborated on this book to share different land and territory perspectives across First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) communities. It follows a young Inuk girl who travels in all four directions and learns different and shared perspectives from the rich and diverse Indigenous nations she meets. This dynamic story shows a deep respect for the earth and an understanding of our responsibilities to protect it for future generations. 

$16, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Ed-Ucation Publishing

Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation

Written by Monique Gray Smith, Orca Books (grades 3-7) Readers will learn about the legacy of Canada’s residential schools, current issues and future possibilities in this powerful collaborative action for elementary education that was inspired by recommendations from the TRC.

$30, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Orca Books

Fatty Legs

Written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes, Annick Press (grades 4-7) This powerful, true story about Olemaun Pokiak follows a young Inuit girl in a residential school who confronted her adversaries with strength, resilience and humour. This memoir has also been adapted into a collaborative creation between an Inuit author, an Anishinaabe dancer, a Mi’kmaq spoken-word artist and a non-Indigenous (Xara) choral ensemble that elementary schools and the general public can attend. Each show closes with an informative Q&A and includes an educator’s guide. 

$11, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Annick Press

Turtle Island

Written by Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy Lowinger, Annick Press (grades 6+) Readers are taken back to the Ice Age to examine what life was like for Indigenous peoples pre-contact. They are given accurate descriptions, based on archaeological finds and scientific research, on a variety of topics that cover right up to present day.

$25, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Annick Press

Secret Of The Stars

Written by Gitz Crazyboy and designed by‎ Jason Eaglespeaker, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (grades 7+) After watching the stars fall to earth, a young man is whisked away into the land of dreams. He travels across distant, mythological places, where he discovers the power of mapping the stars and how our dreams interlope with our everyday realities.

$15, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsCover illustration: Alyssa M. General

Canoe Kids (Volumes 3, 4 and 5)

This publication series for families with kids of all ages explores a variety of Indigenous cultures, including the Haida Gwaii, Ojibwa and Mi’kmaq.

$23, canoekids.com

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kids

Blackflies

Written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Jay Odjick, Scholastic Canada (grades K-3) Well-loved children’s author Robert Munsch collaborated on this story with First Nations artist Jay Odjick to tell a fun tale about a First Nations family he met.

$18, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Scholastic Canada

The Mishomis Book

Written by Edward Benton-Benai, University of Minnesota Press (grades 5+) Created for people of all cultures, this book introduces readers to Ojibwa culture and the sacred Midewiwin teachings. Parents will appreciate the message that life should be centred on respect for all living things, a vibrant community and a respectful relationship with nature.

$31, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: University of Minnesota Press

My Conversations with Canadians

Written by Lee Maracle, BookThug (parents) In this series of essays, Lee Maracle shares the experiences, conversations and questions she has encountered with non-Indigenous audiences over her iconic career. In a conversational tone, she tackles tough issues with honesty and clarity in this book, which serves as a comprehensive, relatable guide for allies who are driven to learning, re-educating themselves and taking action.

$20, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: BookThug

One Story, One Song

Written by Richard Wagamese, Douglas & McIntyre (parents) Everyone can relate to this collection of short stories, which show the reader how we are all connected as humans.

$20, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: Douglas & McIntyre

Seven Fallen Fathers

Written by Tanya Talaga, House of Anansi Press (parents) In her recent 2018 RBC Taylor Prize-winning book, Tanya Talaga’s portrayal of the lives and deaths of seven Indigenous youth from Thunder Bay underscores the urgency to make real, actionable changes in Canada. She highlights gaps in the system, everyday biases and discrimination. The racism that no one like to talk about is eloquently articulated in this powerful book that squashes stereotypes and misinformation with the power to diversify perceptions and shift hearts.

$17, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: House of Anansi Press

Dancing On Our Turtle’s Back

Written by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, ARP Books (parents) In these “stories of Nishnaabeg re-creation, resurgence and new emergence,” readers are educated on the political resurgence of Indigenous peoples through the power of masterful storytelling on Indigenous celebrations, stories, talks with elders and everyday experiences.

$25, indigo.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: ARP Books

Indigenous Writes

Written by Chelsea Vowel, Portage & Main Press, HighWater Press (parents) Indigenous and FNMI issues are explored and demystified, taking readers on a comprehensive journey that covers everything from culture and identity to state violence and colonial justice systems to treaties and land use.

$29, amazon.ca

39 great Indigenous stories to read and share with your kidsPhoto: HighWater Press

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