islandparent Things To Do Reading Top Indigenous Picture Books

Top Indigenous Picture Books

This collection of 25 of the best Indigenous picture books published in Canada between 2018 and 2020 is from the latest edition of From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books

The Pencil

By Susan Avingaq, Inuit, and Maren Vsetula; Illustrated by Charlene Chua. Based on Avingaq’s memories of growing up in an iglu, this story is about three children who must amuse themselves when their anaana is called away to help deliver a baby

The Train

By Jodie Callaghan, Mi’gmaq; Illustrated by Georgia Lesley. This gentle story introduces children to the residential school system through the eyes of Ashley, in conversation with her uncle.

Métis Camp Circle: A Bison Culture Way of Life

By Leah Marie Dorion, Métis. Alongside colourful, full-page illustrations, Dorion outlines the traditional Métis way of life. Featuring text in both English and Michif, the story particularly focuses on the relationship between the Métis and the bison.

How the Moon Came to Be

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By Leah Marie Dorion. With lyrical text and stunning illustrations, Dorion shares the traditional Métis story of Grandmother Moon’s creation, as well as how the moon and Mother Earth came to be named.

Birdsong

By Julie Flett, Cree/Métis. Young Katherena moves to a new home. She finds warmth and friendship after befriending Agnes, an elderly neighbour.

Sus Yoo/The Bear’s Medicine

By Clayton Gauthier, Cree/Dakelh. Told in the voice of a mother bear, this book by multimedia artist Gauthier shares a simple story that works as a rich metaphor for an Indigenous worldview.

It’s a Mitig!

By Bridget George, Anishinaabe. Take a trip through the forest while learning some basic Ojibwe nature words.

Lowanpi Mato’s Tipi

Kim Soo Goodtrack, Hunkpapa Lakota, and Stan Lethbridge, Hunkpapa. Stan Lethbridge’s ancestral name is Lowanpi Mato. Through photographs and mixed media art, Stan and Kim Soo Goodtrack illustrate all the steps in building a summer tipi.

When We Are Kind

By Monique Gray Smith, Cree/Lakota; Illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt, Diné. When We Are Kind is a celebration of kindness, empathy and gratitude. The text is simple, yet powerful in conveying the importance and impact of being kind to others and ourselves.

The Eagle Mother

By Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson), Gitxsan Nation. From an unexpected storm in the Spring Salmon’s Returning Moon, Lasa ya’a, we follow an eagle mother as she protects her eggs from snow, through the Berry Moon as both parents hunt to feed their eaglets, to the babies’ time as fledglings when they “branch” and try their wings.

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

By Dallas Hunt, Wapisewsipi (Swan River First Nation); Illustrated by Amanda Strong, Michif

Awâsis is tasked with delivering Kôhkum’s (Grandmother’s) world-famous bannock to her relative, but as she walks, she loses it. Thankfully, she has many animal friends in the forest who help her along the way.

How I Survived: Four Nights on the Ice

By Serapio Ittusardjuat, Inuit; Illustrated by Matthew K. Hoddy. Based on real events, Serapio Ittusardjuat’s gripping story relates how he got stuck out on the ice for four nights when his snowmobile broke down. Relying on his traditional Inuit knowledge, Ittusardjuat explains what he did to survive.

I Lost My Talk

By Rita Joe, Mi’kmaq; Illustrated by Pauline Young, Mi’kmaq. In this spare, quiet poem, acclaimed Mi’kmaq poet Rita Joe speaks to the profound effect of having lost her language during her years at residential school, and her desire to find her talk again.

Meennunyakaa/Blueberry Patch

By Jennifer Leason, Saulteaux-Métis Anishinaabek, and Norman Chartrand, Saulteaux-Métis Anishinaabek; Illustrated by Jennifer Leason. It is the 1940s and a family is preparing for their annual trek by horse and wagon through the Manitoba bush to pick blueberries for a month.

Wahogicobi

By Nakota Sioux Language Keepers; Illustrated by Destry Love Roan. Featuring full-page colourful illustrations, Wahogicobi is sure to delight young readers and encourage language learning with simple kinship phrases in both English and Nakota Sioux.

Kits, Cubs and Calves: An Arctic Summer

By Suzie Napayok-Short, Inuit; Illustrated by Tamara Campeau. Akuluk is spending her summer with relatives in the Arctic. She accompanies her uncle and aunt out onto the open ocean by boat to check on their old camping grounds.

Tanna’s Owl

By Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley, Inuit, and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, Mohawk; Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang. Arctic owls belong both to the land and the sky, and the ability to bring those elements together is powerful.

The Origin of Day and Night

Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt, Inuit; Illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko. Tiri the Arctic fox prefers the dark for hunting, but Ukaliq the Arctic Hare calls for the daylight so that she can find moss to eat.

In My Anaana’s Amautik

By Nadia Sammurtok, Inuit; Illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko. In this loving story, we get a baby’s view of how comforting it is to be carried in an Inuit amautik, the pouch in the back of a woman’s parka.

Wolverine and Little Thunder: An Eel Fishing Story

By Alan Syliboy, Mi’kmaq. Mi’kmaq artist Alan Syliboy brings us a second story about Little Thunder, this time focusing on his friendship with the trickster Wolverine. While eel fishing, their favorite pastime, Wolverine awakens the legendary great eel and an exciting battle ensues.

Nibi’s Water Song

By Tenasco, Sunshine Tenasco, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg; Illustrated by Chief Lady Bird, Chippewa and Potawatomi. This is the story of Nibi (“water” in Anishinaabemowin). She is thirsty, but there is no clean water to drink in her community.

Swift Fox All Along

By Rebecca Thomas, Mi’kmaq; Illustrated by Maya McKibbin, Ojibwe, Yoeme and Irish. Based on Thomas’s own experiences, Swift Fox All Along recognizes the experiences of urban Indigenous youth connecting to their culture.

When We Had Sled Dogs: A Story from the Trapline/ ācimowin ohci wanihikīskanāhk

By Ida Tremblay, Cree/Nehiyawak, and Miriam Körner; Illustrated by Miriam Körner. Ida Tremblay’s childhood memories of travelling between her family’s summer fishing camp and winter traplines in Saskatchewan are accompanied by vibrant illustrations that bring the family’s hunting, fishing and canoeing adventures to life.

May We Have Enough to Share

Richard Van Camp, Tłıchǫ; Photographs by Tea & Bannock. Van Camp adds to his board book library with another ode to sharing, caring and family happiness.

The Girl and the Wolf

By Katherena Vermette, Métis. A little girl becomes lost in the woods. It is growing dark and she is cold and hungry. A wolf encourages her to close her eyes and breathe deeply to find food, to calm her fears and to find landmarks.

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