Thematic Reading List: 20 Books Featuring Native American Characters


Our list of middle grade and YA books feature Native Americans in various situations and time periods. Many of the books are geared towards age 10 and up.

0316013684 The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
By: Sherman Alexie

Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

9780792253914 Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond
By: Joseph Medicine Crow

Meet Joseph Medicine Crow, a man raised in two worlds: according to the Crow Indian traditions and according to White man’s rules.

9781939053039 Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner
By: Tim Tingle

Danny Blackgoat, a sixteen-year-old Navajo, is labeled a troublemaker during the Long Walk of 1864 and sent to a prisoner outpost in Texas, where fellow captive Jim Davis saves him from a bully and starts him on the road to literacy and freedom.

9781554516872 Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices
By: Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

Profiles over fifty emerging and established contemporary Native American artists (poets, fashion models, chefs, scientists, Olympians, YouTube stars, graphic artists, activists, athletes and many others) and provides samples of their work.

9781553796855 Fire Starters
By: Jen Storm
Illustrated by: Scott B. Henderson

Graphic novel about two teens wrongly accused of starting a fire.

0439353580 Hidden Roots
By: Joseph Bruchac

Although he is uncertain why his father is so angry and what secret his mother is keeping from him, eleven-year-old Sonny knows that he is different from his classmates in their small New York town.

9781937054533 How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story
By: Tim Tingle

Isaac, a ten-year-old Choctaw boy, narrates his family’s removal from their Mississippi-area homeland in 1830 during the forced resettlement of his people and how he became a ghost because of it.

9780545417303 If I Ever Get Out of Here
By: Eric Gansworth

Seventh-grader Lewis “Shoe” Blake from the Tuscarora Reservation has a new friend, George Haddonfield from the local Air Force base. But in 1975 upstate New York there is a lot of tension and hatred between Native Americans and Whites, and Lewis is not sure that he can rely on friendship.

9781419707858 In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
By: Joseph Marshall III and Jim Yellowhawk

Teased for his fair coloring, eleven-year-old Jimmy McClean travels with his maternal grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, to learn about his Lakota heritage while visiting places significant in the life of Crazy Horse, the nineteenth-century Lakota leader and warrior, in a tale that weaves the past with the present. Includes historical note and glossary.

0060295325 Indian Shoes
By: Cynthia Leitich Smith

Together with Grampa, Ray Halfmoon, a Seminole-Cherokee boy, finds creative and amusing solutions to life’s challenges.

9781620141434 Killer of Enemies
By: Joseph Bruchac

In a world that has barely survived an apocalypse that leaves it with pre-twentieth century technology, Lozen is a monster hunter for four tyrants who are holding her family hostage.

51bIfurWS9L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_ The Marrow Thieves
By: Cherie Dimaline

Frenchie, an Indigenous teen, is being hunted for the marrow in his bones after the world is nearly destroyed. Why? Only Indigenous people can dream now and if the hunters can collect Indigenous people’s marrow, they too may be able to dream again.

9781571782175 Meet Christopher: An Osage Boy from Oklahoma
By: Genevieve Simermeyer

This book celebrates the Osage Indian tribal culture through the daily life of Christopher Cote.

9781455879526 My Name is Not Easy
By: Debby Dahl Edwardson

Alaskans Luke, Chickie, Sonny, Donna, and Amiq relate their experiences in the early 1960s when they are forced to attend a Catholic boarding school where, despite different tribal affiliations, they come to find a sort of family and home.

0807204293 Rain is Not My Indian Name
By: Cynthia Leitich Smith

Tired of staying in seclusion since the death of her best friend, a fourteen-year-old Native American girl takes on a photographic assignment with her local newspaper to cover events at the Native American summer youth camp.

9781585369843 Runs with Courage
By: Joan M. Wolf

In the Dakota Territory in 1880, Four Winds, a ten-year-old Lakota girl, is taken from her family to a boarding school, where she is taught English and expected to assimilate into white culture.

0064408884 Skeleton Man
By: Joseph Bruchac

After her parents disappear and she is turned over to the care of a strange “great-uncle,” Molly must rely on her dreams about an old Mohawk story for her safety and maybe even for her life.

9781939053046 Son Who Returns
By: Gary Robinson

Fifteen-year-old Mark Centeno convinces his father, who is Filipino and Mexican, to let him spend time with his mother’s Chumash and Crow family in California in hopes of surfing with his friends but, instead, connects with his heritage through dance.

0525475478 Sweetgrass Basket
By: Marlene Carvell

In alternating passages, two Mohawk sisters describe their lives at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, established in 1879 to educate Native Americans, as they try to assimilate into white culture and one of them is falsely accused of stealing.

9781552776919 Triple Threat
By: Jacqueline Guest

After Matthew Eagletail and his friends decide to compete in the Rocky Mountain basketball tournament, the team led by his nemesis, John Beal, enters the competition.

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