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Native American Children's and Young Adult Literature

A multiculturally grounded guide to finding Native American Children's and Young Adult Literature.This guide can also help education students and teaching professionals find resources to meet Minnesota American Indian Academic Standards.

Evaluative Criteria to Guide Selection

In her article, "Accuracy and Authenticity in American Indian Children's Literature: The Social Responsibility of Authors and Illustrators," Elizabeth Noll provides a list of "evaluative criteria to guide selection of non-fiction American Indian books that can be adapted easily for fiction" quoted from Barbara Kuipers's American Indian Reference Books for Children and Young Adults (1995):

  • Is the American Indian culture evaluated from the perspective of Indian values and attitudes rather than from those of another culture?
  • Does the author recognize the diversity among tribes, cultures, and lifestyles?
  • Does the literature recognize the American Indian people as an enduring race, not vanishing or assimilated?
  • Are Indian languages and dialects respectfully portrayed?
  • Does the literature portray realistic roles for American Indian women?

(Noll, Elizabeth. "Accuracy and Authenticity in American Indian Children's Literature: The Social Responsibility of Authors and Illustrators." Stories Matter: The Complexity of Cultural Authenticity in Children's Literature. Ed. Dana L. Fox and Kathy G. Short. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003.

Kuipers, Barbara. American Indian Reference and Resource Books for Children and Young Adults. 2nd ed. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1995.)

Additional criteria are available from Oyate. Please see the Websites tab in this libguide for more information.


This guide was started based on resources supplied by Dr. Jacqueline Arnold for her course "Multicultural Children's and Young Adult Literature" (English 661), offered at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

This guide also leans heavily on the link list provided by Native Reader.

About this Libguide

This libguide attempts to honor Cynthia Leitich Smith's call, as stated in her article "Social Justice in Native American Literature for Youth."

Please select books about Native Americans with an eye toward literary quality, accuracy, and respect. Take another moment to consider how many Native American voices are represented among your selections and strive for balance. Spread the word about those books that resonate with you. Educate yourself and others about Native literary and cultural traditions so you can recognize great work when it becomes available. Don't forget that bias still exists, even when it seems well intentioned or benevolent. Question. Challenge. Encourage your non-Indian and Native students to make their voices heard, too. Embrace another worldview. (Smith, Cynthia Leitich. "Social Justice in Native American Literature for Youth." Journal of Children's Literature, 31(1) 2005.)

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