Parent Page: Educational Services id: 31880 Active Page: Apply to Reading and Children's Literatureid:31953

American Indian Education Knowledgbase

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

The American Indian Education KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid education professionals in their efforts to improve the education of American Indian students and close the achievement gap American Indian students have faced in public, Bureau of Indian Education, and other schools.

Task 4: Apply to Reading and Children's Literature

Guideline: While American Indian students need to read and learn about the wider, non-Indian world, they also need to see people like themselves and other American Indians accurately portrayed in what they read. Unfortunately, many children's books, even some recent ones, often portray American Indians in a stereotypical or negative fashion. Educators should seek out relevant reading materials for native students.



Children's Stories - Choctaw Nation

This Choctaw nation website offers four stories and four Choctaw legends passed on from generation to generation, told here by Peter Hudson, a Choctaw, who called them Peter's Own.  This Choctaw nation website also includes: History and Culture, Tribal Services, Business and Commerce, Contacts and Applications, and a Media Page featuring Press Releases.

Creating Codes Like the Navajo Code Talkers: Lesson Plan

Teach the story of the Navajo Code Talkers and their critical role in World War II before challenging students, Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, to write their own secret messages via this website that includes Lesson Plans, Lesson Materials, and a Navajo Code Dictionary.

History of Native Americans: Lesson Plans and Booklist

This Scholastic website offers lesson plans and book lists for Native American History such as: life as a Native American, Creating Maps of Native American Regions, Life as a Northwest Coast Native American, and Indian Chiefs.

Indian Reading Series: Stories and Legends of the Northwest

This Education Northwest resource provides "140 culturally relevant stories with teacher's guides written by Indian authors and illustrated by Indian artists that offer a unique supplementary reading and language development program for Indian and non-Indian children."


American Indians in Children's Literature

Established in 2006, American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society. Links to book reviews, Native media, "Best Books" from 2014 through 2017, and recommended reading for students K-12.

Native American Children's Literature Recommended Reading List

This recommended reading list, sponsored by the First Nations Development Institute, and curated by Debbie Reese, PhD, offers a reading list for preschoolers, head start, Kindergarten through 3rd grade, middle school (4th - 7th grade), high school, and graphic novels. Dr. Reese is an expert in the field of Native children’s literature, an educator, and has served on many national literacy boards. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Illinois, and a Masters of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. Dr. Reese is the editor and publisher of the "American Indians in Children’s Literature" (AICL) website.

Suggested Reading from NCAI

This National Caucus of American Indian website offers a list of suggested reading.

What Are Some Great Books About Native American History?

In this May 2016 article, author Robert Collins provides some titles of books about Native American history while also explaining that it is extremely difficult to recommend a single book that does a good job of representing all Native American history and culture. 


A Gathering of Readers

This link to a University of Texas' School of Information website offering resources on native literature.

American Indian Children's Books

The resource provides a list of recommended American Indian children's books compiled by Rose Marie Johnson & Rose M. McGuire, Denver Public Schools, July 2006. With each book the list identifies a suggested grade level, tribe of origin, genre, possible teaching points, question and discussion points and a brief overview.

Reading, Writing and Finding Sovereignty

In this article Dr. Jon Reyhner, Northern Arizona University, takes a look at how native students can enhance their tribal and personal sovereignty through reading and writing.

Reviews & Recommendations of Indian Children's Books

As noted at its website, "Oyate is a Native organization working to see that native Indian lives and histories are portrayed honestly, and so that all people will know that their stories belong to the respective tribes." The resource offers reviews and recommendations on Indian children's books.

Teaching Reading to American Indian/Alaska Native Students

Authored by Dr. Jon Reyhner, Northern Arizona University, "this digest summarizes ways to help young American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children become fluent readers--an essential skill if they are to succeed in school."



A Critical Bibliography on North American Indians, for K-12

The past ten years or so have seen an increase in both the volume and quality of books about American Indians for children. Several excellent nonfiction series have appeared (most notably, Chelsea House's "Indians of North America" and Lerner Publications' "We Are Still Here" series; titles from both are reviewed in this bibliography), and Native authors and artists are finally seeing print with major publishers. Fiction has not fared so well, as authors' "creative license" is often used as an excuse for stereotypical flights of fancy masquerading as multicultural literature.  Nevertheless, it is in books where the greatest potential exists for bringing Americans in touch with the American Indian of reality, not fantasy. With the emphasis on multicultural literature from children's book publishers these days, how does one sort out which titles have been rushed into print or repackaged to meet the demand for books on "diversity" from sensitive and accurate works that avoid stereotypes?  Several bibliographies and guides have been published in recent years, some of them mere booklists of "Indian" books without any analysis (often appearing as chapters in guides to "multicultural literature"). Some are annotated bibliographies that simply describe the storyline and content. The most useful guides, however, are those that critically evaluate the images, descriptions, and portrayals of Native people, such as this bibliography. The accuracy of the portrayal of the Indian character(s) is the focal point of these annotations. This is important. Books are usually reviewed by the major review journals for their literary accomplishment, reading level, appeal to young readers, and attractiveness of illustrations. Almost never do these mainstream reviews consider the accuracy of the portrayals of Native cultures, or, for that matter, of any other cultures. A book may have a riveting and exciting storyline, but appalling depictions of Indian characters.

The annotations in this bibliography address all of these concerns. Like the best of its peers, it contains critical annotations and evaluations---not just plot summaries---of Indian books. Both positive and negative depictions are described, and the editors are not hesitant to point out controversial titles and disagreements about specific books. There is good balance and fair treatment in these reviews.

Teaching Reading With Puppets - Will Native Languages Survive?

In Canada and the United States today, there are approximately 210 indigenous languages are still spoken out of the over 300 spoken before the arrival of Columbus.  However, all is not well with these remaining indigenous languages.  For a language to stay alive, somebody has to be learning it.  Recent research indicates that only 35 of the remaining languages spoken in the United States and Canada are spoken by young people.  Will these remaining languages survive? Today, children are no longer being punished routinely for speaking their language in schools.  Many schools with indigenous populations, particularly on Indian reserves and reservations, have indigenous language programs.  However, having a language programs does not guarantee that children are learning their languages.

What Are the Best Non-fiction Books About History and Culture of Native Americans?

In this Quora blog, “Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong” by Paul Chaat Smith and “Being Comanche” by Morris W. Foster are offered as non-fiction reading about the history and culture of Native Americans. "Being Comanche" is more academic but it is accurate and respectful and doesn’t treat Native people are historical artefacts.


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are intended for general reference purposes only. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Center, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Some resources on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader. This website archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.