Book picks for kids, by Cree author David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson is a Cree writer from Winnipeg, who writes books for kids of all ages. As a father to five kids, Robertson has a bit of experience combing through the children’s section of bookstores.
Cree author David A. Robertson recommends a few titles for children's books. (Second Story Press/Orca Books Publishers)
David A. Robertson is a Cree writer from Winnipeg who writes books for kids of all ages. His books, When We Were Alone, Strangers, and Will I See? are favourites for Indigenous families.
David Alexander Robertson is a Cree author from Winnipeg, who has written When We Were Alone and Strangers. (Provided by David Robertson)

As a father of five, Robertson has quite a bit of experience combing through the children's section of bookstores.

"We've instilled a love of reading in all our kids ... my wife and I, we've tried to read [to our kids] a lot of Indigenous books, it's something that I missed when I was growing up," said Robertson. 

"We think it's important for the kids to see themselves reflected in literature."

Amik Loves School by Katherena Vermette. (Portage and Main Press)

One series that Robertson said he's read to his kids over and over again is The Seven Teachings by Katherena Vermette.

"One of the [books in the series] that's most affecting for us is Amik Loves School, which, like When We Were Alone, addresses intergenerational effects of residential schools," said Robertson.

"It's [written] in a way that is not traumatizing, it's a very loving and gentle way to talk about the stories."

Another book about residential schools that Robertson reads to his kids is Stolen Words by Melanie Florence.

(Second Story Press)

"I think it's something that's important for my kids to read about and learn from because we have that history in our family," said Robertson.

"My grandmother went to residential school in Norway House, so I want them to understand what the schools were about, and how it impacted the survivors of the schools, and also themselves through the different generations."

Growing up, Robertson was never exposed to books like these, but says that things are changing.

"It's an important movement I see happening, and so as [the books] come out, I'll keep getting them for my own children … and I hope that other parents out there read them to their own children," said Robertson.

"Whether you're Indigenous or non-Indigenous, I think it's important to know the history, and I think learning about it through literature is a way that is most powerful."

(Orca Book Publishers)

A lighter book for your young ones that Robertson recommends is You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith.

The book teaches children to show love and support for one another in their everyday actions.

"[The book explores] a relationship and the beauty of being there for each other, and that sense of community even within a family and between two people," said Robertson.

Other books Robertson recommends for children include Shin-Chi's Canoe by Nicola Campbell and When I was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton.