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Advocating for Native Children’s Literature (UBC Day 11)

Who Advocates for Native Children's Literature?

Many people are advocates, bringing Native Children’s Literature into the light. Here are a few experts who educate others, encourage and support Native Creatives, and promote Native works.

Dr. Debbie Reese

Dr. Debbie Reese is a former classroom teacher and university professor who founded the American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) website. She is tribally enrolled at Nambé Owingeh and grew up on Nambe’s reservation. 

Read her blog post about why she advocates for Native writers and illustrators.

Watch a video of EmbraceRace interview with Debbie Reese HERE. 

How can you select excellent examples of Native children’s book? Get her action guide HERE.

Let go of your favorites – Read the Chalkbeat interview with Debbie Reese HERE.

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee citizen) is an acclaimed, NYTimes bestselling, award-winning author, including a 2021 NSK Neustadt Laureate AND 2024 Southern Mississippi Medallion Winner for Outstanding Contributions to Children’s Literature.

Her titles include HEART UNBROKEN, the anthology ANCESTOR APPROVED, SISTERS OF THE NEVERSEA, the ghost mystery HARVEST HOUSE, and her latest–MISSION ONE: THE VICE PRINCIPAL PROBLEM (BLUE STARS #1), co-written with Kekla Magoon and Molly Murakami.

Cynthia looks forward to ON A WING AND A TEAR, her fall 2024 middle-grade road-trip novel. She is also the author-curator of Heartdrum, a Native-focused imprint of HarperCollins.

Please visit her website for tons of information about children’s literature. 

Please visit Heartdrum’s publishing website.

Read a Publisher’s Weekly article about Cynthia Leitich Smith is Lifting Up Native American Voices

Read Cynthia’s WNDB interview HERE.

See a list of 2023 Native Books Cynthia recommends HERE. 

Traci Sorell

Best-selling author and Cherokee Nation citizen Traci Sorell writes inclusive, award-winning fiction and nonfiction in a variety of formats for young people. Her 2023 books include picture book Contenders: Two Native Baseball Players, Mascot, a middle grade fiction novel-in-verse co-authored with Charles Waters. Her first five books (On the Mountains Base, Powwow Day, We’re Still Here, We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga, Classified: Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross) have received many awards, including the American Indian Library Association. 

Please visit Traci’s website HERE. 

Order her “Get Caught Reading” Poster HERE.

Read her interview on Meeg Pincus’ Solutionary Stories HERE.

Find some ideas for using Traci’s books in the classroom on the Children’s Literature Assembly website HERE.

Hope you find some helpful resources. And I hope you will help ask your local libraries and bookstores to buy and display excellent Native Children’s Literature. 

Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith’s (Cree /Lakota) books are used to share wisdom, knowledge, hope and the important teaching that love is medicine.

Monique has books for young readers which include My Heart Fills with Happiness, You Hold Me Up, When We Are Kind, Lucy and Lola and I Hope. She also writes YA and for adults.

Monique’s Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults was released in November 2023, an adaptation of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, a New York Times Best-selling book for adults.

Please visit Monique’s website HERE

And her YouTube channel HERE where she reads her picture books outloud. What a treat!

Listen to Monique speak about her process on the Highlights Foundation podcast HERE. 

Listen or read Monique’s interview on a CBC episode Children’s books can help young Canadians learn more about residential schools HERE. 

Study and share an educator for Monique’s book Speaking Our Truth HERE. 


Please use my contact form to  let me know if links are not working. Thank you!



Children's Author and Educator

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6 thoughts on “Advocating for Native Children’s Literature (UBC Day 11)”

  1. Three of my favorite writers and people! Not only do they deliver brilliant stories with authentic representations of Native people (actively dismantling stereotypes & misinformation that have existed for far too long), they selflessly do all that they can – sharing their knowledge, experiences, resources, time, connections, and encouragement- to lift others.

    I have not had the honor of meeting Dr. Reese, but I admire the work she has done to ensure that the books used in schools provide accurate portrayals of Native people & our histories.

    1. Thanks for explaining a bit more about each other these role models, Michelle! I agree with all you mentioned. And I haven’t had the chance to meet Dr. Reese in person either, but have learned so much from her, through her website and webinars over the years. I hope we can meet her someday soon 🙂

  2. I have read and love Traci Sorell’s books.. they are all doing such important work promoting children’s literature..

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