#CybilsAwards Booklists: Indigenous Voices

native voices books kids teens

It is American Thanksgiving this week, a time for families to get together, eat lots of food, maybe watch football, and reflect on what they are grateful for.

This year, though, we wanted to take a moment to highlight Indigenous voices, their stories, and how vital they are to the world. 

The books on this list are written by Indigenous writers, illustrated by Indigenous illustrators. Enjoy hearing their stories. Our only regret is that there are not more of them!

We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know
by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac

Joyful and contemporary images are included, in a style that is colorful, welcoming, and kid-friendly. Young readers will be drawn to the characters on the page, recognizing more similarities than differences. Consciously or unconsciously, the images allow readers to unpack any stereotypical assumptions or misunderstandings they might have about Native Americans in the past or present. — Sandy Brehl, Unpacking the Power of Picture Books


Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer
by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Natasha Donovan
Millbrook Press

The emphasis on the value of these home teachings ensures that this book goes beyond the ordinary as a biography. It lifts the factual information about Ross’s life to an exemplary level. — Dr. Genevieve Ford


Treaty Words
by Aimee Craft, Luke Swinson
Annick Press

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend
by Dawn Quigley, illustrated by Tara Audibert

Living Ghosts and Mischievous Monsters: Chilling American Indian Stories
by Dan SaSuWeh Jones, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre
Scholastic Nonfiction

These tales range from mildly frightening to truly terrifying. They come from a variety of American Indian cultures from all across North America. Each chapter has an introduction full of interesting details and insights into different tribal traditions. I’m still thinking about: The Walking Doll and The Vampire of Sleeping Child Hot Springs. — Mary Duffy Just Read Journal

Sisters of the Neversea
by Cynthia L. Smith

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Although the stories are written individually, major characters from one story often appear as side characters in another, and the star of one of my favorite stories, Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Rez Dog Rules”, a free-spirited, owned by no-one dog who decides to help sell t-shirts, appears in all of them. — Katy K a library mama


Rez Dogs
by Joseph Bruchac
Dial Books

Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask: Young Readers Edition
by Anton Treuer
Levine Querido

I thought I knew about Native Americans. Nope! There is so much to know… Lucky for us that Anton Treuer is likable, funny and wise. — Julie partnersinliteracydenver

Firekeeper’s Daughter
by Angeline Boulley
Henry Holt & Co.

Firekeeper’s Daughter can be Exhibit A to enlighten those who doubt that young adult literature is actually literature. With this debut, Angeline Boulley delivers a provocative look at a culture underrepresented in contemporary fiction that evolves into a breathtaking thriller in the final hundred pages. Firekeeper’s Daughter is one of the rare books that transcends genre and provides a thoughtful, exciting, deeply-felt reading experience for both teens and adults. — Gary Anderson What’s Not Wrong?