Dig Into These Indigenous Books for Your Summer Reading List

Looking for some great books to read this summer? Dig into one of our summer reads! We have compiled a summer reading list here for you with Own Voice stories perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Want to enhance your reading experience? We have included opportunities to “Dig Deeper” with each selection.  

Indigenous Books for Kids and Teens

 

I Will See You Again

By Lisa Boivin

This unique blend of art and story is an illustrated book for ages 12 and up. Written and illustrated by Lisa Boivin, the lyrical art and story leave readers with a universal message of hope and love. 

When the author learns of the death of her brother overseas, she embarks on a journey to bring him home. Through memories and dreams of all they shared together and through her Dene traditions, she finds comfort and strength. 

I Will See You Again was selected as one of “CBC’s 20 Canadian books for kids and teens to read for National Indigenous History Month.”

Dig Deeper 

Download the free I Will See You Again Reader’s Guide. Written to support discussions about Dene culture as explored through the author’s art, the guide also introduces a practice that can bring rest and healing: telling and sharing difficult experiences through art. Use this guide to reflect on I Will See You Again on your own, or as part of a discussion with friends and family, or students. 

 

The Eagle Mother (Mothers of Xsan, Book 3)

By Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) 
Illustrated by Natasha Donovan

Learn about the life cycle of these stunning birds of prey, the traditions of the Gitxsan, and how bald eagles can enrich their entire ecosystem. A perfect mix of story and science to hold the interest of readers aged 8-12. 

Dig Deeper

Experience more of the poetry of the Xsan river valley ecosystem through the first two books in the Mothers of Xsan series. With striking illustration and lyrical language, the award-winning books The Sockeye Mother and The Grizzly Mother  offer other perspectives of the ecosystem of “the River of Mists.” 

Click here for a video pronunciation guide for words featured throughout the series.

  

Siha Tooskin Knows the Nature of Life

By Charlene Bearhead and Wilson Bearhead
Illustrated by Chloe Bluebird Mustooch

Rocks, grass, trees, birds—what can they possibly teach human beings? This early chapter book is a great choice for a summer afternoon outside, and is suitable both for young readers or as a read-aloud for family storytime. 

Paul Wahasaypa knows that Ena Makoochay (Mother Earth) gives us many things. On this compelling nature journey with Ena (his mom), we learn how strength, generosity, kindness, and humility are all shown to us by grandfather rocks, towering trees, four-legged ones, and winged ones, reminding us of the part we have to play in this amazing creation.

Dig Deeper 

Enjoy the other seven titles in the Siha Tooskin Knows series, whose vivid narratives and dazzling illustrations in contemporary settings share more stories about Paul Wahasaypa (Siha Tooskin). 

You can also download the Free Education Guide that supports teachers, students, and families in learning about and discussing the teachings, practices, and values of Paul Wahasaypa’s Nakota family, and exploring these concepts in relation to the Indigenous peoples where they live.

 

When We Were Alone

By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett

David A. Robertson’s Governor General’s award-winning book, When We Were Alone, has recently returned to the Canadian Bestseller list. Included on Indigo’s “Antiracist Reading List for Kids,” it is a book for anyone looking for an age-appropriate way to teach young children about Residential Schools. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history and, ultimately, a story of empowerment and strength.

 

Dig Deeper

Click here to watch a video pronunciation guide for Cree Words used in the story. 

Download the free Parent/Teacher Guide. This guide helps parents and educators use When We Were Alone to discuss diverse perspectives, experiences, and traditions with young readers that foster a deeper understanding of ourselves as human beings and of our relationships with others. Watch a video conversation between the author and a classroom teacher about “Teaching Difficult Subjects.”

Indigenous Reads for Adults

The Evolution of Alice: Reissued Edition

By David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson’s first novel returns in this reissued edition with a new chapter, and a foreword by Shelagh Rogers. 

Immerse yourself in Alice’s story, where spirits are alive, forgiveness is possible, and love is the only thing that matters. Peopled with unforgettable characters and told from multiple points of view, The Evolution of Alice is the kaleidoscopic story of one woman’s place within the web of community. 

Dig Deeper 

Did you know that the first edition of The Evolution of Alice was the 2016 On The Same Page selection. Visit the Winnipeg Public Library website for resources from the archives, including a Reader’s Guide. Grab a copy of the newly revised edition, a few of your friends, and host an online book club this summer! 

Not sure if you’ll have time to read the book? The Evolution of Alice is also coming soon as an audiobook. 

Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada

By Chelsea Vowel

Delgamuukw. Sixties Scoop. Bill C-31. Blood quantum. Appropriation. Two-Spirit. Tsilhqot’in. Status. TRC. RCAP. FNPOA. Pass and permit. Numbered Treaties. Terra nullius. The Great Peace…are you familiar with these terms? 

In the national bestseller Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel, legal scholar, teacher, and intellectual, opens an important dialogue about these (and more) concepts and the wider social beliefs associated with the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. The essays within this book will help to confront narratives about Canada’s history and Indigenous peoples.   

Dig Deeper

Indigenous Writes was a selection of Unsettling Ideas: Winnipeg Chapter, “a book club intended to engage students, staff, faculty and community in discussions around anti-racism, decolonization and reconciliation.” Join in the book club yourself and watch this video of the book club discussion with Chelsea Vowel. 

Potlatch as Pedagogy: Learning Through Ceremony 

By Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson

Inspired by Haida ceremonial practice, father and daughter Robert Davidson and Sara Florence Davidson, present a model for learning that is holistic, relational, practical, and continuous. 

Over the course of her own education, educator Sara came to see how the traditions of the Haida practiced by her father—holistic, built on relationships, practical, and continuous—could be integrated into contemporary educational practices. 

Highly recommended for all educators and parents interested in exploring pedagogy and learning models this summer. 

Dig Deeper 

Check out the 5 Moore Minutes Book Club by Shelley Moore. The dynamic educator behind Reimagining Inclusion: The ONE Series hosted a virtual book club to explore Potlatch as Pedagogy. All episodes of this online conversation between educators are available on YouTube.

Something both Teens and Adults will enjoy

This Place: 150 Years Retold
Written and illustrated by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm et al.

Included on the 2020 Horn Book Summer Reading List as a high school pick, this award-winning graphic novel is a favourite of teen and adult readers alike. 

Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact. 

Currently appearing on both Winnipeg and Canadian bestselling book lists, this is a popular Own Voices read for Indigenous History Month. 

Want to Dig Deeper? 

This Place: 150 Years Retold was selected for the One Book UWinnipeg Fall 2019 campus reading project. Learn more about This Place through the 1BUW website, including links to videos of panel discussions and author presentations. 

This Place: 150 Years Retold Teacher Guide is a great resource for teachers wanting to get a jumpstart on planning for next year! Bring This Place into your classroom to introduce your students to the unique demographic, historical, and cultural legacy of Indigenous communities, and explore acts of sovereignty and resiliency. 

 

We can’t wait to see where your summer reading takes you!

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