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8 of the best picture books by Indigenous authors

 

Canada has some amazing authors! We’re lucky to have such a beautiful history and so many talented writers to create picture books for young readers. Indigenous authors in Canada have so many stories to tell about their culture and some of the dark moments in Canada’s history. Tackling subjects like residential schools in particular seems like a tough job, but there are some amazing books that tell those stories and some that tell other unique tales from a First Nations perspective. Here are some for you to take a look at:

Book: When I Was Eight

When I Was Eight

By Christy Jordan-Fenton, illustrated by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Recommended for ages 6-9

This is the illustrator's own story! A girl who wants to learn to read travels far away to go to a school where they cut her hair and refuse to call her by her real name. Even though she faces the cruelty of a nun, Margaret holds on to her desire to read.

 

Book: We Sang You HomeWe Sang You Home

By Richard van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett
Recommended for ages 0-5

A rhyming book about the unique relationship between parents and their children, in particular about the bond new parents feel with their babies.

 

 

Book: When We Were AloneWhen We Were Alone

By David Alexander Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett
Recommended for ages 4-8

A beautiful story about a little girl who begins to notice things about her grandmother as they work together in the garden. Why does she wear her hair in a braid? Why does she speak a different language? Why does she dress in such colourful clothes? The answers all relate back to the grandmother’s time at residential school.

 

Book: Stolen WordsStolen Words

By Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Recommended for ages 4-8

The story of a Cree girl and her grandfather that begins when she asks him how to say "grandfather" in Cree and he tells her that he doesn’t remember because his words were stolen long ago at residential school. The girl listens and sets out to help her grandfather find his words again.

 

Book: You Hold Me UpYou Hold Me Up

By Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel
Recommended for ages 3-7

A simple but powerful book about the importance of showing love, empathy and support for each other.

 

 

Book: The Water WalkerThe Water Walker

By Joanne Robertson
Recommended for ages 3-7

The story of a grandmother who walks to raise awareness of the need to protect our water (the giver of life) and our planet for future generations.

 

 

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox

By Danielle Daniel
Recommended for ages 5-8

In the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, this book shows children talking about why they relate to certain animals and wearing masks that represent their totem animal.

 

Book: Shi-shi-etkoShi-shi-etko

By Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Kim LaFave
Recommended for ages 6-8

Shi-shi-etko only has a few days before she leaves for residential school. During her last days at home, she collects memories and lessons from her family to take with her.