The second Monday of October in the United States marks Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday that celebrates and honors the invaluable contributions of Indigenous Peoples while also commemorating their histories and cultures.
This year, the holiday will be observed on October 9th. Other countries recognize this day on different dates.
Despite where yours falls on the calendar, we wanted to take a moment to share a few of our favorite books by Indigenous authors and illustrators that you can read with your students to illuminate Indigenous voices today or any other point during the year.
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard
Written by a member of the Seminole nation, Fry Bread is about much more than just it’s delicious namesake. Following a family’s process of creating fry bread, we learn about the ties that connect their modern lives and traditions with those of the past and how they all intertwine.
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel
Métis author/illustrator Danielle Daniel shares an introduction into Anishinaabe culture with her beautiful illustrations and poetic descriptions of different animals and their characteristics in the book Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox. Written to help connect her own son to his Indigenous heritage and the significance of totems, this book can help guide all children to learn new things about themselves.
My Powerful Hair by Carole Lindstrom & Steph Littlebird
Award-winning and best-selling author of We Are Water Protectors, Carole Lindstrom (Anishinaablke/Métis) teams up with illustrator Steph Littlebird (Grand Ronde) in this new empowering picture book that pairs a relatable story with bold illustrations in celebration of hair and its significance across Indigenous cultures.
Remember by Joy Harjo & Michaela Goade
With simple, yet direct language, this gorgeous picture book adaptation of the poem “Remember” by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (Mvskoke) urges readers to take a moment to pause and reflect on who they are, the world they have come into and how everything is connected. Breathtaking illustrations by Caldecott-winning illustrator Michaela Goade (Tlingit and Haida) bring language to life with sweeping landscapes, designs and colors that swirl and melt together.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
In the book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, author and member of the Cherokee nation Traci Sorell offers a glimpse into Cherokee culture while encouraging the expression of gratitude for things throughout the year. Sorell even includes words from the Cherokee language for readers to learn. This book inspires us to take a moment each day and reflect on not only the struggles but also the things around us that are special.
What’s My Superpower? By Aviaq Johnston
Nalvana, a young Inuk girl begins a quest to find her superpower after realizing that her friend Davidee has super speed. As she points out and celebrates each of her friends’ superpowers, she becomes increasingly worried that she will never be able to figure out her own superpower. She wonders; does she even have one? Her mother helps her to realize that her superpower was there all along; she is super at making others feel good about themselves. A lesson on finding your strengths, as well as building up others, this book is great read for younger students.
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom
Anishinable/Métis author Carole Lindstrom is a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe. We are Water Protectors conveys the urgency and importance of protecting our water and environment as well as traditions and community. Illustrator Michaela Goade, a member of Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska, brings each page to life with sweeping landscapes, designs and colors that swirl and melt together. Together, they urge readers to stand up and protect all living things by treating them with kindness and respect.
Walking Together by Elder Albert D. Marshall, Louise Zimanyi & Emily Kewageshig
Mi’kmaw elder Dr. Albert D. Marshall and French-Canadian and Hungarian professor/researcher Louise Zimanyi introduce readers to the concept of Etuaptmumk, or Two-Eyed Seeing, while journeying with children through nature as spring unfolds. Illustrator Emily Kewageshig (Anishnaabe) blends both traditional and contemporary materials and methods to highlight the Indigenous knowledge and culture that brings each page to life.
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp & Erwin Printup, Jr.
In this childrens’ version of the Thanksgiving Address, Chief Jake Swamp (Tekaroniaeken, Akwesasne Mohawk) shares an inspirational message of gratitude for the natural world that is echoed in the unforgettable landscapes of artist Erwin Printup Jr. (Cayuga/Tuscarora) found on each page.
You can use this downloadable handout below to have discussions about the Native American culture, and the importance of respecting the land and taking care of all forms of life.
This is meant to help your students understand the purpose of the book. Each question is meant to promote mindfulness and allow them to process the story and promote empathy for cultural traditions and the well-being of the environment.
For more blogs about Indigenous Peoples’ Day and honoring Native Americans, visit: