Triptych featuring books by Indigenous authors

Tech & Media

11 #OwnVoices Shows and Books to Celebrate Indigenous History Month with Your Kids

Jun 17, 2020

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate and mark Indigenous History Month but not sure where to start, why not begin with some top-quality media created by Indigenous artists, writers and producers? We’ve pulled together a short list of some favourites, both newer and older, for kids of all ages.

Nibi is Water (Joanne Robertson)

Book cover: Nibi is water by Joanne Robertson

This sweet board book for babies and toddlers is an introduction to the importance of water, or Nibi in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), and our role to thank, respect, love and protect it.

The book is written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson, an AnishinaabeKwe author and illustrator who also founded the Empty Glass for Water campaign, which aims to bring attention to the drinking water crisis in Indigenous communities.

Recommended for ages 0 to 3.

Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak (Roy Henry Vickers and Robert "Lucky" Budd)

Book cover: Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert

With beautiful illustrations by First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers, Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak is a lovely board book that’s also a joy to read out loud. The sights and sounds of the West Coast are brought to life by Vickers’ illustrations which makes it a perfect pick for the youngest of pre- and early-readers.  

Recommended for ages 0 to 3.

Teepee Time (JerryCo Animation)

Available in Mi’kmaq and English

Teepee Time is an animated series for preschoolers about a curious little teepee discovering the world, one adventure at a time. Produced by Montreal-based JerryCo Animation who describe themselves as “North America’s first Indigenous owned and operated animation studio,” Teepee Time is newly available on CBC Gem in both Mi’kmaq and English.

Cool fact: Anne Marie Marchand, a school principal in Cape Breton, provides the Mi’kmaq translations, narration and sings the songs.

Recommended for ages 2 to 4.

Anaana’s Tent (Taqquk Productions Inc.)

Available in Inuktitut and English

In a very special tent in the Arctic, host Rita Claire and her husky Qimmiq learn new songs, words and stories with the help of some animated friends and Inuit performers. Anaana’s Tent is an educational series for preschoolers with a very gentle pace and a Sesame Street-style that includes animated shorts, musical guests and host-based segments.

It was produced by Inuit-owned Taqquk Productions out of Iqaluit. Watch season one on CBC Gem.

Recommended for ages 2 to 6.

You Hold Me Up / Gimanaadenim (Monique Gray Smith and Danielle Daniel)

Book cover: You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith and Danielle Daniel

This beautiful picture book by award-winning author Monique Gray Smith (My Heart Fills With Happiness), is intended to “prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families.”

Any book that encourages learning about kindness, support, looking out for each other, and the building of relationships is something we all need more of right now.

Recommended for ages 3 to 7.

Molly of Denali

Back in 2020, Molly of Denali was awarded the prestigious Peabody Award in the Children's and Youth category!

You'll also be excited to know that each episode of Molly of Denali is packed full of the adventures of 10-year-old Molly Mabray, who lives in rural Alaska with her family, her dog Suki and her best friends Tooey and Trini.

Molly is a Gwich’in / Koyukon / Dena’ina Athabascan girl, and this CBC Kids/PBS Kids co-production included a team of Indigenous and specifically Alaska Native producers, writers and story consultants.

Much has been written about the production of this groundbreaking series, which not only incorporates Indigenous knowledge and creation into every aspect of the production, but also introduces young audiences to an informational text curriculum, a literacy concept that uses maps, books, websites and stories to convey information. And there’s a podcast too.

Recommended for ages 4 to 7.

Nibi’s Water Song (Sunshine Tenasco and Chief Lady Bird)

Book cover: Nibi's Water Song by Sunshine Tenasco and Chief Lady Bird

Nibi’s Water Song is about a little girl on the search for clean drinking water. Released in fall 2019, the book was written by Anishinabe entrepreneur Sunshine Tenasco, who has said, "I just want all these little brown kids to see themselves on there. And I want them to see that they can create their own change in a positive and good way."

Nibi’s Water Song, along with Tenasco’s organization Her Braids, bring awareness to and advocate for access to clean drinking water in Indigenous communities across Canada.

And did we mention it’s gorgeously illustrated by celebrated Chippewa and Potawatomi artist Chief Lady Bird?

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Kamik Takes the Lead (Darryl Baker and Ali Hinch)

Book cover: Kamik Takes the Lead by Darryl Baker and Ali Hinch

Kamik Takes the Lead is the fourth book in the Kamik early-reader series by Darryl Baker, an Inuit teacher and dog musher based in Arviat, Nunavut. If you haven’t checked it out yet, the Kamik series follows Jake and his dog Kamik as they prepare for their first dogsled race with a full team, while sharing a larger story about the history of working dogs in Nunavut.

According to Inuit-owned publisher Inhabit Books, the series “celebrates the traditional bond between Inuit and their sled dogs.”

Recommended for ages 5 to 7.

Go Show The World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes (Wab Kinew and Joe Morse)

Book cover: Go Show The World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes (Wab Kinew and Joe Morse)

A celebration, a rap song and heroes are the basis of this powerful picture book written by NDP MLA Wab Kinew. The book touches on the stories of famous and not-as-famous Indigenous heroes from Sacagawea to Carey Price and delivers a powerful message: “We are people who matter.”

Recommended for ages 6 to 10.

Coyote’s Crazy Smart Science Show

Coyote Science (as it’s known) is an awesome show for kids who love science. With kid hosts, animated segments, Indigenous learnings and knowledge, and one cool coyote, Coyote Science is a must-watch for older kids, teachers and parents looking for at-home educational resources. Stream all 13 episodes for free on CBC Gem.

Recommended for ages 9 to 12.

The Case of Windy Lake (by Michael Hutchinson)

Book cover: The Case of the Windy Lake by Michael Hutchinson

The very first book in the Mighty Muskrats Mystery series, The Case of Windy Lake is the first book from former APTN News host and producer Michael Hutchinson. This chapter book for older-kid readers is about four cousins (a.k.a the Mighty Muskrats) living on Windy Lake reserve who investigate a mysterious disappearance.

Recommended for ages 9 to 12.