Books About Native American History

Learn more about the historical events of Native America with these kid’s books about Native American history, including chapter books for children.

Learn more about the historical events of Native America with these kid’s books about Native American history, including chapter books for children.

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Picture Books

At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell

In the shadow of a great mountain, a Cherokee family waits patiently for the reuniting of their family. A pilot, just returned from service in WWII, gathers treasured memories around him like a blanket as he makes the journey home. 

When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger

In a story that parallels a  day in the life of a modern Lenape girl with that of her ancestors, readers discover that several traditions have remained over generations. 

Red Bird Sings by Q.L. Pearce and Gina Capaldi

Zitkala-Sa, whose name means Red Bird, leaves her South Dakotan tribal home and heads east to an Indiana boarding school. Soon she realizes that her new life in a white man’s world is vastly different from the homeland she left behind. 

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac 

A good first biography that tells the story of Squanto, the Native American man who became the bridge between the colonists and the native people of the land. 

Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle

A young Choctaw girl meets an African American boy trapped in slavery, and soon she realizes she must help her new friend. With courage and ingenuity, she helps the boy and his family escape to freedom in the north. 

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

A young Cree girl asks her grandfather to teach her a word in Cree. He tells her he is not able to recall the word, as his language was taken from him when he was forced to mold into white man’s image at his childhood boarding school. Although much of his culture and identity were taken from him during that time, his granddaughter gives him cause to hope that some of what was lost can be regained. 

At the Mountain's BaseRed Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša, Native American Author, Musician, and ActivistStolen Words

 

Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story by SD Nelson

The true story of the Buffalo Bird Girl, a Hidatsa tribal member growing up in the mid-1800s in a community that depended on the Missouri River for their livelihood. A largely agricultural community, the Hidatsa tribe farmed the land and played on the banks of the mighty river. 

Tapenum’s Day by Kate Waters

Follow Tapenum, a young boy from the Wampanoag tribe living near Plymouth Plantation, as he goes about his day. He gathers food and enjoys time with friends while contemplating the changes that have come since the arrival of the pilgrims. 

Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell

Shi-shi-etko isn’t sure what she will find when she moves into her new boarding school in a few short days. She gathers her memories and favorite things and puts them in a mental treasure box to carry with her even as she embarks on this new adventure. 

Shin-Chi’s Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell

Shi-shi-etko and her little brother Shinchi are attending a boarding school in which they must adhere to the strict rules of the Catholic institution. They must forego everything about the culture they left behind: religion, names, food, and tradition and replace it with the customs of the English. 

Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief and Rosemary Wells

On Maria Tallchief’s Osage reservation, dancing is an activity that only men can participate in. Her father, noticing that she has an obvious musical ability, encourages Maria to follow her dream to dance and play piano on the big stage. His belief in her allowed her to leave the reservation and become the first prima ballerina in America.

When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson

A young girl learns about why her grandmother holds her Native American traditions so close as the two toil together in the dirt of their garden. 

Powwow Summer by Marcie Rendon

A colorful trip into a powwow with real pictures to help readers understand the traditions and customs of this important ceremony. 

Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa StoryWhen We Were AlonePowwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life

 

Chapter Books

Meet Kaya: American Girl by Kimiko Hahn

Kaya, a young Nez Perce girl, loves to brag about her horse, the fastest one she has ever seen. Her beloved pet, her family, and her rich cultural heritage are all front and center in this first book in a series of six. The last pages of the book contain the “looking back” section that showcases photographs and real facts about the Nez Perce tribe and Kaya’s homeland. 

Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Cornelia Cornelissen

Soft Rain, along with her sister and mother, watch fearfully as soldiers come to their home and demand they leave their newly planted crops and head west. Soft Rain feels lucky that she understands some of the white man’s language, but what she hears does not help her feel better. After trudging through many miles of wooded land, Soft Rain finally sees her father, and with his presence comes a fresh wave of hope for the family’s unknown future ahead.  

Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac

15th century Mohawk twins Ohkwa’ri and Otsi’stia love participating in friendly sports competitions between their tribe and their near-neighbors. But when a revenge plot starts to thicken before a game of lacrosse, Ohkwa’ri knows he must go to the elders for help.

Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac

Ned Begay, a 16-year-old Navajo teenager, feels a strong pull to help his country fight as the WWII mission becomes even more critical. Ned and a crew of others become code-talkers, sending and receiving messages in their native tongue that were unbreakable codes to those listening in and an important tool on the way to winning the war. 

Pocahontas by Joseph Bruchac

Pocahontas is just a child when white men enter her tribe’s land for the first time. She is full of wary fascination at the arrival of the newcomers, and her peace-keeping heart will soon play an integral part in the future relationship between these very different people groups. 

Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac

Just sixteen when she joined the Lewis and Clark expedition, Shoshone girl Sacajawea became an integral part of the famed explorations. She traveled with the men as a translator and guide, keeping them from harm in the wilderness. Without her courage and strength, there would likely be no expedition to  write about. 

Meet Kaya, Book 1Soft Rain By Cornelissen CorneliaCode Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

 

The Arrow Over the Door by Joseph Bruchac

Based on a true story, this tale that weaves together two cultures offers a poignant view of a point in America’s history that led to the Revolution. Stands Straight is an Abenaki Indian whose job is keeping tabs on the Americans for King George. Samuel Russell is a Quaker living on edge as unrest sweeps his town. When the two cross paths, their worlds will collide in a way that neither can foretell. 

Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac

Cal and his father have been living the lives of hobos aboard the rail cars ever since the Depression took their farm and emptied their pocketbooks. Cal’s father tells him about his Creek Indian culture and sends him to a boarding school specially built for Native American tribal children in Oklahoma. Once at the school, Cal realizes the purpose of the school seems to be to strip culture and heritage from its students and to impose the image of whiteness onto them. The boys at the school must band together to survive the brutal treatment and encourage each other to remain stalwart in the face of racism. 

A Boy Called Slow by Joseph Bruchac

The amazing true story of a determined young man who grew up in the 1800s in a Lakota Sioux tribe. This persistent leader and voice for positive change for his people was known as Slow as a boy, but grew into the man called Sitting Bull. 

Talking Leaves by Joseph Bruchac

Cherokee teenager Uwohali is happy to see his father again when he returns to the tribe after an absence of many years. His father has returned with some strange new markings that he keeps making everywhere he goes. The tribe isn’t sure what to make of this new practice, and some even suspect Uwohali’s father Sequoyah of evil. But these strange markings are really just the beginning of the Cherokee alphabet and the transition from an oral to written language, and Sequoyah alone knows the importance of preserving his people’s words in this form for generations to come. 

The Waters Between by Joseph Bruchac

Long before vikings from the north invaded or European explorers from the east landed on the shores of the New World, the Abenaki people learned how to thrive in a harsh land. With determination and grit, they built a successful and thriving community that focused on the Only Heart, the coming together of all people into one unified body. 

The Winter People by Joseph Bruchac

Saxso is filled with fear when the unrest and fighting between British and French troops in his area begins to touch his own community. Unable to stave off their attacks, the Abenaki tribe is overtaken, and the members of the village are either killed or kidnapped. Among the taken is Saxso’s mother and two sisters. The task to search out his lost family members and take them to safety is now in his hands, and Saxso hopes he is up to the task. 

Arrow Over the Door (Puffin Chapters)Talking LeavesIn the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

 

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III

Grandfather Nyles teaches Jimmy about their family’s Lakota heritage while telling him the amazing true story of Tasunke Witko, also known as Crazy Horse. 

How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle

Issac and his family are forced to leave their home with the rest of their Choctaw tribe. As they walk the Trail of Tears, each step takes them further from the familiar, and Issac begins to foresee danger ahead. 

House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle

Rose Goode is a Choctaw girl attending a Native American school in Skullyville, that is, until the school is decimated by a fire set on Christmas Eve. The persecution of her people doesn’t end there. Rose’s grandfather is subjected to a public beating, and the Choctaw people face increasing racism and maltreatment at the hands of the white settlers in town. Rose struggles with the oppression of her people, but soon finds reason to hope again. 

American Indian Stories by Zitkala-Sa

The stories of Zitkala-Sa and her people, as told by the woman herself. As a young woman, Zitkala-Sa experienced the final conquest of her people at the Battle of Big Horn, and she began to use her writing, published in the Atlantic Monthly, to provide narratives that were thought-provoking and poignant. Her stories, collected here, are insightful into the way of life the white man of Zitkala-Sa’s day was working so hard to erase. 

Who Was Sacajawea? by Judith Bloom Fradin

Meet the remarkable Shoshone woman who is responsible for the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Sacajawea, baby in tow, was the translator and guide for the journeying men who depended on her to survive in the untamed territory. 

Who Was Maria Tallchief? by Catherine Gourley

America’s first prima ballerina was born in Oklahoma in 1925 and was part of the Osage tribe. Her love for dance and obvious talent eventually led her off of the reservation and onto the big stage. 

How I Became A Ghost — A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story (Book 1 in the How I Became A Ghost Series)House of Purple CedarAmerican Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings (Penguin Classics) by Zitkala-Sa (2003-02-25)

 

Sees Behind Trees by Michael Dorris

In the 1500s, before the age of glasses and contacts, young Walnut struggles to see clearly. He is nervous because he knows that he will have to pass his tribe’s marksmen challenge with his bow and arrow in order to earn his grown-up name. Walnut’s family bands together to help him rise to the occasion and he gets a name that fits him well, “Sees Behind Trees”. 

I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer

Nipissing girl Couchie finds that life at her new boarding school is not what she expected it to be. Her name is removed and replaced with a number. Her hair is cut to match the style of white children, and every effort is made to remove her culture and heritage. 

My Heart is on the Ground by Ann Rinaldi (Dear America)

Nannie Little Rose is a Sioux Indian girl who is attending a school for Native Americans run by white men. She feels caught between the two worlds–and her frustration and confusion is poured out in the pages of this diary-style novel. Her drive to make a difference for other children like her eventually lead her to choose a career as a teacher. 

Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

Alis is full of nervous anticipation as her family steps off the boat from England and into the New World. But soon, tensions begin to rise between the white newcomers and the native Roanoke tribe. A forbidden friendship forms between Alis and a Roanoke girl, and together the two struggle to understand the growing apprehension between their two people groups.

Blue BirdsMy Heart is on the Ground: the Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl, Carlisle Indian School, Pennsylvania, 1880Gaawin Gindaaswin Ndaawsii / I Am Not a Number (English and Ojibwa Edition) 

More Historical Book and Movie Lists

Teach history through books and movies with these comprehensive book lists from Learn in Color. Check out the full list here!

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