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Native American Stories

Many different people from many parts of the United States comprise the group of people called Native American. The lore is rich and diverse; some tales are humorous, others are serious. Some stories are about people who lived — or might have lived — long ago; others are about real children who you may know as a friend or neighbor today. Meet them all between the pages of the books recommended here.
Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend

By: Jerrie Oughton
Illustrated by: Lisa Desimini
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Richly hued illustrations are used to show how First Woman tried to guide humans by providing the “laws of the world” by writing them in the sky with her jewels (the stars). Things change, however, when trickster Coyote tries to help, tires of the task, and then tosses the rest of the jewels into the night sky with beautiful if chaotic results.

Iktomi and the Coyote: A Plains Indian Story

By: Paul Goble
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Iktomi is a trickster from the Lakota who tricks prairie dogs into becoming his next meal. But Iktomi meets his match when Coyote, another truly wily character, enters the picture. Though the prairie dogs don’t fair well in this traditional tale, the style of telling and Goble’s authentically styled illustrations present the tale’s humor and lesson in a palatable way.

Jingle Dancer

By: Cynthia Smith
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Jenna wants to dance in the powwow as her grandmother and other women in her family have. But she wonders: will she have enough jingles to make her dress sing? Traditional and contemporary activities come together in this appealing, clearly illustrated story of a modern girl and her background, based on the author's Muscogee (Creek) heritage.

The Good Luck Cat

By: Joy Harjo
Illustrated by: Paul Lee
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A child narrates how a much loved cat, Woogie, brings good luck to her family. When Woogie is lost, its luck may have run out — but the resolution is luckily both satisfying and happy. Richly hued illustrations add authentic details to a universally appealing story set within a Native American family and told by a Muskogee-Creek writer.

The Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale

By: Joseph Bruchac, Gayle Ross
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Have you ever wondered how the Milky Way came to be? According to a Cherokee legend, it started when an old couple learned that their corn was being stolen by a Great Spirit dog. To get away, the spirit dog jumps into the sky, spilling the corn. And we can still see the results today in the night sky.

The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale

By: Lydia Dabcovich
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

An old Inuit woman takes in a polar bear cub and raises him until others in the village become jealous of the bear’s hunting prowess, threatening to kill him. The old woman sends her beloved bear away, but continues to meet him far out on the ice where her polar bear “son” gives her food to eat. The gentle telling and illustrations evoke the Arctic.

The Rough-Face Girl

By: Rafe Martin
Illustrated by: David Shannon
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When her older sisters try to convince the Invisible Being's sister that they can see him, they are rebuffed. Only the youngest, whose face and hair is badly scarred from feeding the fires, can answer his questions correctly and see him everywhere. Sophisticated and hauntingly illustrated, experienced readers will see similarities between this Algonquin tale and its familiar European counterpart, "Cinderella".

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