Historical
Native American Indian
Children's Novels

The Birchbark HouseTHE BIRCHBARK HOUSE by Louise Erdrich (Ojibway)(Hyperion, 1999). Touching on the same era as the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, this first book in a planned triology is in some ways Erdrich's answer to the imbalance in the way Native-white relations have historically been portrayed in children's literature. Readers will be engaged by appealing protagonist, Omakayas, educated by this glimpse at Ojibway daily life, and perhaps inspired to look at history with an eye to different points of view. Elegant writing. This novel was a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award and a 2000 ALA Notable Book in Children's Literature. Ages 8-up. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Don’t miss the companion novels, THE GAME OF SILENCE (HarperCollins, 2005) and THE PORCUPINE YEAR (HarperCollins, 2008).

DAUGHTER OF SUQUA by Diane Johnston Hamm (Whitman, 1997). Ida, a young Suqhamish girl, and her people are faced with allotment, boarding schools, and more harsh changes. But through it all, the relationships between this young girl and the people of her community, especially her grandmother, are truly inspiring. Ages 8-up.

DOVE DREAM by Hendle Rumbaut (Chickasaw) (Houghton Mifflin, 1994). In the summer of 1963, Eleanor "Dove" Derrysaw, age 13, is sent to live with her aunt in Kansas. Eleanor comes of age with her first romance, her first job, and a greater appreciation of her Chickasaw heritage while looking to her aunt's life for inspiration. Ages 8-up.

GUESTS by Michael Dorris (Modoc) (Hyperion, 1994). An exploration of an event analogous to the mythical "Thanksgiving" story, told from the point of view of a Native boy. Ages 7-up.

LONGWALKER'S JOURNEY: A NOVEL OF THE CHOCTAW TRAIL OF TEARS by Beatrice O. Harrell (Choctaw) (Dial, 1999). Minko Ushi and his family are part of the Choctaw removal, or Trail of Tears, from their ancestral land to Indian Territory. In this story Minko, his father, and a pony actually travel ahead of the rest and have various adventures along their way. Ages 8-up.

MORNING GIRL by Michael Dorris (Modoc) (Hyperion, 1992). It's 1492, and Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are two very different children who are about to encounter whites for the first time. A Native twist on the "discovery" mythology. Winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Ages 7-up.

MUSIC FROM A PLACE CALLED HALF MOON by Jerrie Oughton (Houghton Mifflin, 1995). Edie Jo Houp lives in a small town called Half Moon, North Carolina during the 1950s. Edie Jo is not sure about her father's controversial suggestion that Native children be invited to participate in the Vacation Bible School program at the Vine Street Baptist Church. But a slowly-developing friendship with a boy named Cherokee Fish helps change her mind. This is a multi-layered story with no easy solutions. Winner of the Bank Street Award. Ages 8-up.

OWL IN THE CEDAR TREE by Natachee Scott Momaday (Cherokee) and illustrated by Don Perceval (University of Nebraska Press, 1965). A break-through book featuring Navajo life in the middle of the twentieth century and a boy's relationship with his changing community and his love for a horse. Ages 7-up.

SEES BEHIND TREES by Michael Dorris (Modoc) (Hyperion, 1996). Set in the sixteenth century, Walnut grows into his adult name and leanrs to cope with his limited vision. At its heart, a journey story. My favorite of the three, outstanding children's novels by Dorris. Ages 8-up.