20 Picture Books About Native Americans

Learning about Native Americans is important for many reasons. Not only do we get to learn about those that have come before us, but it’s important to learn about Native Americans throughout history through a lense of what really happened, not just the happy stories that are in many of our textbooks. This list of 20 picture books about Native Americans will take you through the different regions of the United States, plus some extras that shouldn’t be missed. Let’s dig in to some of these beautiful books together!

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Books about the Northwest Native Americans

Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott

I love this tale. As Raven flies around looking for where the light went, he finds it shining from the Sky Chief’s house. As he watches his daughter, Raven forms a plan. Read on to find out what happens to Raven and see if he can to steal the light.

Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk

A Kulu is a term of endearment the Inuits use when talking about their babies and young children. The amazing illustrations show different animals from the Arctic. This poem makes the best bedtime story. This is a great gift for families with newborns.

The Owl and the Two Rabbits by Nadia Sammurtok

In this traditional Inuit story, two rabbits disobey their parents and decide to play on the open tundra. It didn’t take long for trouble to find them in the form of a very hungry owl. The sisters must act quickly. 

Books About the Southwest Native Americans

Arrow to the Sun: A Pueblo Indian Tale by Gerald McDermott

Gerald McDermott’s illustrations fit this book perfectly. The Pueblo Indian art not only shares the story but also helps showcase this unique art.  In this ancient legend, a young boy searches for his father. He is sent to the sun by the arrow maker and must pass through four ceremonial chambers to prove himself. You can find this book and learn more about the Pueblo Indians in Rabbit Trails through Literature: Volume 1.

Dragonfly’s Tale by Nancy Bo Flood

After an abundant harvest, the elders decided to have a mock battle where their weapons would be made of food. The Corn Maidens watched with heavy hearts and decided to take away the harvest and a famine began. The Ashiwi people must leave to find food but accidentally leave two children behind. The oldest child makes a dragonfly from corn stalks. This dragonfly turns into the miracle the children need to survive. 

How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend by Jerrie Oughton

In this Navajo legend, First Woman tries to write the laws of the land with stars in the sky. Coyote inquires about what the First Woman is doing. He wants to help but doesn’t like that it is taking so long. He decides to get the job done as quickly as he can. 

Books About the Plains Native Americans

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble

I love all of Paul Goble’s books. He does such an amazing job telling the stories of the Plains tribes. This story is about a girl who loved horses. She was completely devoted to caring for them and understood them better than others. In the end, she eventually becomes one of the wild horses and gets to run free forever. You can learn more about the Plains Indians in Rabbit Trails through Literature: Volume 2.

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola

If I find a Tomie dePaola book while working on Rabbit Trails lessons, I try my hardest to find where I can fit it in. A young boy has a Dream-Vision that revealed that he will “paint a picture that is as pure as the colors in the evening sky.” As he grew, he painted many pictures, but couldn’t capture the sunset. Read on to find out what happens in the end.

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard

Yum! Fry bread! In this story, the author uses great adjectives so we can experience fry bread with all of our senses. He also shows us how important not just eating fry bread is to his family and many different native tribes. Make sure to try out the recipe at the back of the book.

Picture Books About the Southeast Native Americans

The First Strawberries by Joseph Bruchac

Joseph Bruchac has many beautiful books that share many Native American legends. In this Cherokee legend, a man and woman quarrel. The woman leaves in anger. The man tried to catch up with her, but she was too quick. The Sun saw how sorry the man was and attempted to slow down the woman. Read on to find out what Sun does to help. Learn more about the Cherokee tribe with this book and more in Rabbit Trails through Literature: Volume 3. 

The First Fire: A Cherokee Story by Brad Wagnon

This book gives us a glimpse into the beliefs of the Cherokee tribe. The animals needed a source of heat at night. Great Thunder sends some lightning and it starts a fire in a sycamore tree on an island. The animals all take turns to try to bring the first across the water. Which animal do you think will be successful?

Chukfi Rabbit’s Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale by Greg Rodgers

Chukfi Rabbit does whatever he can to avoid work. Are you like him? He tells his friends that he is too busy to help build a new house for Ms. Possum. When he finds out there will be a feast of delicious foods once the house is built, he makes a plan. He helps himself to some of the homemade butter while the other animals work. What happens to Chukfi Rabbit? 

Picture Books About the Northeast Native Americans

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson

A Mohawk warrior, Hiawatha, lost everything and is consumed with anger. He is greeted by a spiritual guide, the Peacemaker. The Peacemaker shares the Great Law and says that the warring nations need to find peace to save themselves. Hiawatha travels with Peacemaker to share the message with all the tribes. Enjoy this beautiful story and illustrations as you find out how Hiawatha’s travels end.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp

Chief Jake Swamp adapts this beautiful message just for children. This is the way the Mohawk children were taught to give thanks to Mother Earth each day. This message shows their belief that the world is a precious and rare gift.  

When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger

I absolutely love how this book shows what life was like for a Lenape Indian girl’s family and her ancestors. As you read the story, which is based on what is happening now, you also get to see this same task happening in the past. It shows the importance of being with family and carrying on traditions. 

Even More Picture Books About Native Americans

Between Earth & Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places by Joseph Bruchac

The paintings are beautiful in this book. We learn about sacred places for many different tribes through poetry. Enjoy learning about these sacred places. You can learn more about Native Americans in Rabbit Trails through History: Early Settlers.

Many Nations: An Alphabet of Native America by Joseph Bruchac

We get to see and learn about 26 different Native American tribes. It is a great book to introduce your children to the different tribes. The illustrations help us to picture what each tribe wore or what they lived in. 

The People Shall Continue by Simon J Ortiz

We learn about the history of Native Americans through their eyes with this book. Many times when we study history, we only learn about one side of the story. It’s always important to listen to all sides, when possible. You can learn more about how the Native Americans were affected by the Removal of Natives Act in Rabbit Trails through History: Westward Expansion

This Land Is My Land by George Littlechild

Here’s another book to share with your children about how the Native Americans were affected by the explorers. He shares their struggles and triumphs during this difficult time. 

We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell

Despite everything that happened, Native Americans can say, “We are still here!” This is definitely a hard book to read and hear all the things that the white people did to the Natives. Even though it’s hard to hear, it’s still important to read this book. 

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What Books Would You Add?

There are 20 picture books about Native Americans for you to read to your children! What books would you add to the list? Let us know down in the comments or over in our online homeschool community.

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