November is Native American Heritage Month. This month has been chosen to honor the complexity and honor of Native American culture and history. The following are titles aimed at a teen and tween audience which wonderfully depict Native American characters and their lives.

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie
YA Fiction
Arnold Spirit “Junior” loves to draw. His tale of transferring from his school on Spokane Indian Reservation (“the rez”) to an all-white school is told in a series of diary entries and cartoon drawings. His tale of his new school where he is the only Native American kid, (their school mascot is a caricature of Native Americans) is moving and hilarious.

Touching Spirit Bear
Ben Mikaelson
J Fiction
A juvenile offender is sent to a remote Alaskan island as a part of a unique rehabilitation program called Circle Justice. There he falls victim to a mysterious white bear. After suffering his attack, he is forced to examine the roots of his anger.

Code Talker: a Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War II
Joseph Bruchac
YA Fiction
Sixteen-year-old Ned Begay is recruited by the military to be a code talker during World War II. Code talkers were Navajos that communicated classified messages in the Navajo language to prevent the Japanese from cracking their code.

Firekeeper’s Daughter
Angeline Boulley
YA Fiction
Daunis Firekeeper has just graduated high school when she witnesses the murder of her best friend Lily by her meth-addicted boyfriend. She is recruited by the FBI to serve in her late uncle’s place as an undercover informant to find out about a lethal new drug that contains an ingredient from Ojibwe traditional medicine.

Rez Dogs
Joseph Bruchac
J fiction
This novel told in verse is the story of how a Wabanaki reservation survives the COVID-19 pandemic. When Malian’s community is under quarantine, she learns how to keep her family safe, and the local dog helps her.

Ghost Hawk
Susan Cooper
J Fiction
John Wakely is a 10-year-old colonist who befriends a Little Hawk, a young Native American when tension is brewing between the two groups. Their friendship puts both boys and their families in danger.

Crooked River
Shelley Pearsall
J Fiction
In 1812, when a young white trapper is murdered, a Chippewa man stands accused. As the man struggles to make sense of the white man’s justice system, he befriends a young girl who lives in the house in which he is being held.

Man Made Monsters
Andrea Rogers
YA Fiction
A collection of overlapping horror stories that follow generations of a Chippewa family from 1839 to 2039.

A Snake Falls to Earth
Darcie Little Badger
Nina is a Lipian girl in our world. Oli is a cottonmouth kid not from our world. They have no idea the other exists until a catastrophic event on earth and a deadly sickness that afflicts Oli’s friend brings them together.

Trickster: Native American Tales, a Memoir
Matt Dembicki
These short graphic stories richly illustrate several Native American tales of the trickster in different forms and styles.

Victoria Vogel

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