10 Amazing Indigenous Children’s Books to Add to Your Child’s Library



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In honour of National Indigenous History Month, we’ve rounded up 10 incredible Indigenous children’s books about Indigenous culture, by Indigenous authors or acknowledging the Indigenous experience in Canada. With the recent discoveries of unmarked graces at residential school sites across the country, adding these books (and so many others!) to your child’s library can help to start the conversation about this part of our country’s history, as well as to introduce and celebrate the bright and vibrant cultures of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

This 2020 picture book is more than a story of a young Ojibwe girl fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline—it’s a call to action for all who care about the planet. It’s beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated (it has won awards for both its words and pictures!) and was inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America to protect the environment, including precious water sources. $25, indigo.ca

What’s My Superpower? by Aviaq Johnston, illustrated by Tim Mack

Everyone has a superpower—what’s yours? This book’s main character, Nalvana, is trying to figure out the answer to this question. With the help of her mom, Nalvana learns that the answer was right in front of her the whole time. Written by Inuk author Aviaq Johnston, kids will love this sweet tale about uniqueness and acceptance. $17, amazon.ca

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

In this beautiful story about a young girl and her grandfather, the child asks her grandfather to say something in his native language, Cree. The grandfather admits that when he entered a residential school in his youth, his language was stolen from him. In this story that helps to explain intergenerational pain and the resulting impact, the young girl sets out to help her grandfather find his words again. $20, indigo.ca

Phyllis’s Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad, illustrated by Brock Nicol

The true story behind Orange Shirt Day, author Phyllis Webstad recounts how she arrived at a residential school wearing an orange shirt, given to her by her granny, only to have it taken away. The story reflects on the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada and gives the key takeaway that “every child matters.” $11, amazon.ca

Nokum Is My Teacher by David Bouchard, illustrated by Allen Sapp

This poetic tale is as stunning to look at as it is to read. In this lovely book, a young Indigenous boy poses questions to his grandmother, Nokum, about life outside of the reserve. Nokum teaches him that there is a whole wide world waiting, and that he can explore while still being true to his roots. Nokum Is My Teacher is illustrated by Allan Sapp, Cree elder, Governor General's Award winner and Officer of the Order of Canada. $17, indigo.ca

My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett

What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book allows little ones and their parents to reflect on the things that truly bring them joy. The stunning illustrations show simple pleasures—like bannock warm from the oven, spending time with loved ones—to remind readers that life is about recognizing and relishing moments of happiness. $10, amazon.ca

May We Have Enough to Share by Richard Van Camp

The aim of this book is to teach kids to begin and end each day with thankfulness. Author Richard Van Camp’s words—written to express his appreciation for his life and the world in which we live—are complemented by photographs from different photographers, depicting the things that fill each contributor with gratitude. $11, orcabook.com

I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland

This incredibly powerful book shares the story of Irene, a young girl who was removed from her family and her Indigenous community and sent to a residential school. Irene is heartbreakingly assigned a number and told to use those numerals in place of her name. When Irene returns home for summer vacation, her parents vow never to send her back, even though it’s against the law to keep her home. Based on the true story of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’s grandmother, this book helps to educate kids on a terrible part of Canada’s history, in ways they can understand. $20, indigo.ca

Fishing with Grandma by Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula, illustrated by Charlene Chua

In this sweet, brightly illustrated story, an ice fishing trip with Grandma turns out to be a lesson in tradition for two Inuit kids. Grandma teaches her grandchildren how to pack and dress for the adventure, how to drill and clear holes in the ice, how to create an Inuit jigging rod and how to prepare Arctic char, so that one day the children will be ready to go out on the ice on their own. $11, indigo.ca

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, written by and illustrated by Danielle Daniel

With its beautiful illustrations and delightful, easy text, this book introduces the importance of totem animals in the Anishinaabe culture. Each image shows a child wearing the mask of an animal, to represent how people can identify with different creatures, like a moose, deer or beaver. The author, Danielle Daniel, was inspired to write the book to encourage her son to connect with his Indigenous roots. $12, houseofanansi.com
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
What’s My Superpower? by Aviaq Johnston, illustrated by Tim Mack
Stolen Words by Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Phyllis’s Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad, illustrated by Brock Nicol
Nokum Is My Teacher by David Bouchard, illustrated by Allen Sapp
My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett
May We Have Enough to Share by Richard Van Camp
I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland
Fishing with Grandma by Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula, illustrated by Charlene Chua
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, written by and illustrated by Danielle Daniel

To learn more about how you can get involved and give back to Indigenous communities, check out Reconciliation Canada, True North Aid and other registered organizations who are focused on providing different kinds of support to Indigenous groups across the country.

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