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The ABC of It: Things to think about

By April 29, 2019May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

What can I do to provide Indigenous Content?

Read, read, and read some more. Read books by and about American Indians. Read contemporary picture books and stories. Read critical reviews of books. Read about the issues surrounding books in journals, in blogs and social media.

Coming this fall. Illustration by THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE, edited by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Marlena Myles (Millbrook, 2019).

What books Should I read? The award winners from the American Indian Library Association are a good start. Recommendations can be found on Oyate, American Indians in Children’s Literature, Cynthia Leitich Smith is an author and generous promoter of children’s book creators has a terrific website with recommendations and interviews.

Cover of Louise Erdrich’s The Birchbark House

Buy books. No, really, buy books.

Support Indigenous authors and illustrators.

The picture books are artistic wonders with lyrical language that authentically reflects individual communities’ cultures.(Bowwow Powwow)

Support independent presses who take a chance on new artists and writers who don’t align with the mainstream. (Apple in the Middle North Dakota State University Press)

Support independent bookstore who make those books available.

Do you know about Birchbark Books Bookstore?

Birchbark Books Logo

Birchbark Books is “operated by a spirited collection of people who believe in the power of good writing, the beauty of handmade art, the strength of Native culture, and the importance of small and intimate bookstores.” For the address, hours or to order books go here.

Explore the New American Indian Collection

From State Library Services:

“State Library Services and the Office of Indian Education at MDE have partnered to develop a resource list of authentic and appropriate materials for teaching the K-12 Minnesota Language Arts Standards pertaining to American Indian Tribes and communities. In addition, a core collection of the approximately 100 list titles has been created and is being housed at three libraries around the state. The collection is featured on partner library Lake Agassiz Regional Library’s website. In addition, the collection is available at Anoka and Scott County libraries, and statewide via ILL through MNLink. The project committee includes Hannah Buckland, formerly of Leech Lake Tribal College and now with Hennepin County Library; Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen and her students of the St. Catherine University MLIS program; and Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the University of Minnesota’s Kerlan Collection. For more information, including a list of titles and a guide to ordering them, please contact Leah Larson (651-582-8604).”

The titles on the American Indian Collection list are all available through Birchbark Books.

Suggested Reading

Seale, D., & Slapin, B. (2005). A Broken flute : The Native experience in books for children (Contemporary Native American communities ; v. 14). Walnut Creek, Calif. : Berkeley, Calif.: AltaMira Press ; Oyate.

Quigley, Dawn, “Silenced.Voices Take from American Indian Characters in Children’s Literature” American Indian Quarterly 40.4 (2016) 364-368. Web.

Erdrich, L. (1999). The birchbark house (1st ed., Birchbark house series ; bk. 1). New York: HyperionBooks for Children.



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