Indigenous Authors for Kids in Upper Elementary

Discover children's books by Indigenous authors to share with children in third through fifth grade every day of the year. Looking for more? Check out these resources:

Visit denverlibrary.org/indigenous-heritage for additional activities, resources, and recommendations.

Christine Day

After an injury sidelines her dreams of becoming a ballet star, Maisie is not excited for her blended family's midwinter road trip along the coast, near the Makah community where her mother grew up.

Louise Erdrich

Named for the Ojibwe word for little bear, Makoons and his twin, Chickadee, have traveled with their family to the Great Plains of 1860s Dakota Territory. There they must learn to become buffalo hunters and once again help their people make a home in a new land. But Makoons has had a vision that foretells great challenges -- challenges that his family may not be able to overcome. (Based on the author's own family history.)

María García Esperón

Presents a collection of stories from nations and cultures across our two continents, the Sea-Ringed World, as the Aztecs called it, from the edge of Argentina all the way up to Alaska.

Brett D. Huson

An engaging look at how the animals, people, and seasons within an ecosystem are intertwined. To the Gitxsan people of Northwestern British Columbia, the eagle is an integral part of the natural landscape. Together, they share the land and forests that the Skeena River runs through, as well as the sockeye salmon within it. Follow the eagle mother as she teaches her eaglets what they need to survive on their own. The Mothers of Xsan series uses striking illustration and lyrical language to bring the poetry of the Xsan ecosystem to life.

Michael Hutchinson

Windy Lake is a fictional First Nation in the midst of the boreal forest and a connection of lakes and rivers. The community is conflicted over a nearby mine, which has the support of the Chief and Council, but is a source of concern for First Nation families connected to the land. As part of the agreement with the community, the mine must do an archeological assessment of any new land they disturb. Unfortunately, soon after his arrival, the old archeologist goes missing. It's a perfect case for The Mighty Muskrats, a group of cousins: Sam, Chickadee, Otter and Atim who use the mysteries they come across to explore their community, their culture, the land and its history. The first in a series.

Steven Paul Judd

This summer, Tasembo just wants to chill. But that's not an option when it's a scorching day on the Reservation and the Ice Cream Man is a no-show. In an attempt to impress his crush by solving the mystery, Tasembo joins forces with his neighbor, Nuseka, and his dog, Billy Jack, to take on their first case as the Rez Dog Detectives. With twists around every corner, this case won't crack itself, but when you combine Nuseka's brains, Billy Jack's loyalty, and Tasembo's... persistence, justice will be served. Cold, that is.

Charlene Willing McManis

When Regina's Umpqua tribe is legally terminated and her family must relocate from Oregon to Los Angeles, she goes on a quest to understand her identity as an Indian despite being so far from home.

Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane

Part of the nonfiction Orca Origins series for middle readers. Illustrated with photographs, Powwow is a guide to the dance, music and culture of this Indigenous celebration.

David Robertson

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home -- until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything -- including them.

Cynthia Leitich Smith

In this magical, modern twist on Peter Pan, stepsisters Lily and Wendy are spirited away to Neverland by a mysterious boy and must find a way back to the family they love.

Brian Young

Nathan, a young Navajo boy from Phoenix, Arizona, goes on an epic hero's journey.

Summaries provided by DPL's catalog unless otherwise noted. Click on each title to view more information.

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