By Sarah Potts
Here are a few titles to add to the holiday wish lists of budding readers
At Library and Archives Canada, we love books! Around the holidays, we often share ideas about gifts for our loved ones. Choosing good reads for our kids (or children at heart) can be tricky. This librarian’s solution? Check out our recent acquisitions of works by Indigenous authors or featuring Indigenous stories. I hope this list inspires you to grow your young (and older) readers’ collections!
For younger readers
Nokum Is My Teacher, by David Bouchard, illustrated by Allen Sapp, music by Northern Cree Singers. OCLC 1080218454
Nokum Is My Teacher tells the story of a conversation between a boy and his Nokum (grandmother) about why he should learn to read. His Nokum knows the power of reading, but she also reminds him to respect his traditional knowledge. The story is in English and Cree, and it comes with downloadable music.
Una Huna: What Is This?, by Susan Aglukark, illustrated by Amanda Sandland and Danny Christopher. OCLC 1122616081
Ukpik loves to go camping in the North! One day, a captain comes to trade with her father, and she worries that everything is going to change. Ukpik speaks with her grandmother, who reminds her that while some things change, her love for family and camping never will.
You Hold Me Up, by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel. OCLC 973043772
You Hold Me Up teaches children and their guardians about the importance of empathy and why we should consider the feelings of others in our everyday actions. It will help your littlest ones to develop an understanding of respect and empathy.
Nibi’s Water Song, by Sunshine Tenasco, illustrated by Chief Lady Bird. OCLC 1080643036 (French translation by Hélène Rioux: Nibi a soif, très soif, OCLC 1083095552)
In a child-friendly way, Nibi explains why it is so important for everyone to have clean water. Through beautiful illustrations, an unlikely character—her hair—explains Nibi’s feelings and journey! As the communities learn to listen and communicate with each other, they come together to ensure that all Canadians have access to clean, healthy water.
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, by Danielle Daniel. OCLC 1022939643 (French translation: Parfois je suis un renard, OCLC 989789937)
A beautiful introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals. Children explain in their own words why they feel connected to certain animals. For each chosen animal, there is an adorable illustrated image of the child as his or her totem animal.
A Children’s Guide to Arctic Butterflies, by Mia Pelletier, illustrated by Danny Christopher. OCLC 1004529871
If you thought that only polar bears and rabbits lived above the treeline, think again! Arctic butterflies are real, unlike mythical North American “house hippos.” This book is a fact-filled, beautifully illustrated journey into the world of the resilient butterflies of the North.
The Gathering, by Theresa Meuse-Dallien, illustrated by Arthur Stevens. OCLC 966404621
Alex has never attended a spiritual gathering (mawiomi) and is feeling overwhelmed. Once she begins meeting Elders, she becomes more at ease; eventually, and most importantly, she finds her voice in a talking circle.
Mokatek et l’étoile disparue, by Dave Jenniss, illustrated by Claudie Côté Bergeron. (In French) OCLC 1080217733
Each night, to fall asleep, Mokatek loves to speak with the stars. He really enjoys telling his stories to the best and brightest star in the sky, the North Star! One day, his favourite star disappears, and he has to find it. In this book, the youngest of readers join Mokatek on a journey with his animal friends to find the brightest star and bring it back home.
Dragonfly Kites, by Thomson Highway, illustrated by Julie Flett. OCLC 1055555884
Dragonfly Kites is the second book in a magical trilogy by iconic author and playwright Thomson Highway. This bilingual book (English and Cree) is about two brothers who fly their kites during the day, but fly at night in their dreams. The brothers remind us about the beauty of using our imaginations!
For pre-teens and teens
A Two-Spirit Journey: the Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder, by Ma-Nee Chacaby with Mary Louisa Plummer. OCLC 927382779 (French translation by Sophie M. Lavoie: Un parcours bispirituel : récit d’une aînée ojibwé-crie lesbienne, OCLC 1035313410) (Content warning: homophobia and transphobia)
This selection is a story of resilience and self-discovery. Ma-Nee Chacaby brings you on a journey through her life with humour, kindness and a willingness to accept oneself.
Trickster Drift, by Eden Robinson. OCLC 1035334241 (Content warning: drug use)
In Trickster Drift, the second book in a planned trilogy, we follow Jared, who has a knack for attracting trouble and magic. He moves to Vancouver for high school and discovers that just because you leave the magic behind, the magic does not leave you, especially when you are the son of a Trickster!
Voices from the Skeena: an Illustrated Oral History, by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd, illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers. OCLC 1107990291
Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good history book, and if the book has pictures, even better! Take a trip along the Skeena River to meet those who have known this river since time immemorial, and those who came after them. This is the perfect book for the budding West Coast historian.
I hope that I have inspired you to explore what is available from Indigenous authors and their worlds this holiday season!
Sarah Potts is an acquisitions librarian in the Legal Deposit section of the Published Heritage Branch at Library and Archives Canada.