Native American Books: Historical Fiction and Biographies

If you are studying Native American culture and history, then check out this list of Native American books, including biographies, memoirs, and historical fiction.  They range from lower elementary school through middle school.  There are too many books to list all that exist so preference was given to highly rated books, popular series, award winning books, and those written by Native American authors.  A variety of tribes and settings are included.

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Native American Books, Ages 6-8

Step into Reading: Pocahontas (Step 3) by Lucille Recht Penner
There are multiple Step into Reading books about Pocahontas at different levels so you can pick the one right for your child. (48 pages)

The True Story of Pocahontas (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3)
  • Penner, Lucille Recht (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 48 Pages - 09/10/1994 (Publication Date) - Random House Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

A Mare for Young Wolf (Step 4)  by Janice Shefelman

Tells the story of a boy choosing his first horse in a Comanche tribe. (48 pages)

A Mare for Young Wolf (Step-Into-Reading, Step 4)
  • Shefelman, Janice (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 48 Pages - 09/21/1993 (Publication Date) - Random House Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

Step into Reading: Trail of Tears (Step 5) by Joseph Bruchac
A short  introduction to the Cherokee Nation’s Trail of Tears (1838) for younger children.  This author has written many books about Native Americans. (48 pages)

Trail of Tears (Step-Into-Reading, Step 5)
  • Bruchac, Joseph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 48 Pages - 09/21/1999 (Publication Date) - Random House Books for Young Readers (Publisher)
Spearfinger by Charles Suddeth
This book is unique in that it is written in English and Cherokee!  It tells the story of a witch that is scaring the Cherokee of the Smoky Mountains and a little boy who must stop her. (60 pages)

Spearfinger: English/Cherokee version
  • Hardcover Book
  • Suddeth, Charles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 60 Pages - 06/12/2017 (Publication Date) - 4RV Children's Corner (Publisher)
Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
If you like the Magic Tree House books, then there are two related to Native Americans I would recommend.  Shadow of the Shark takes Jack and Annie to visit the Ancient Mayan civilization and Buffalo Before Breakfast takes them to the Great Plains in the early 1800s where they meet a boy from the Lakota tribe.

Shadow of the Shark (Magic Tree House Merlin Mission)
  • Osborne, Mary Pope (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 05/02/2017 (Publication Date) - Random House Books for Young Readers (Publisher)
Buffalo Before Breakfast (Magic Tree House #18)
  • Osborne, Mary Pope (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 87 Pages - 05/18/1999 (Publication Date) - Random House Books for Young Readers (Publisher)


Check out Teaching History with Magic Tree House for FREE notebooking pages and other activities to go with these books!

Native American Books, Ages 9-11

Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling
This short book, written in 1941, tells of a Native American boy who carves a canoe and goes for a journey on the Great Lakes. (64 pages)

Paddle-to-the-Sea: A Caldecott Honor Award Winner (Sandpiper Books)
  • Paddle to the Sea
  • Holling, Holling C. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 64 Pages - 02/19/1980 (Publication Date) - Clarion Books (Publisher)

Sees Behind Trees by Michael Dorris
A shorter chapter book about a Native American boy overcoming a disability to earn his name. (128 pages)

Sees Behind Trees
  • Sees Behind Trees By Dorris Michael
  • Dorris, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 05/18/1999 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
This book, set in Maine in the 1700s, tells the story of a friendship between a Native American boy and a boy of European descent left on his own in the wilderness. My 6th grader loved this book and found it to be an easy read. (135 pages)

The Sign of the Beaver: A Newbery Honor Award Winner
  • Speare, Elizabeth George (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 08/02/2011 (Publication Date) - Clarion Books (Publisher)
Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Set in the 1940s, this is a first person account of the author, Margaret, leaving her Arctic Inuvialuit village to attend a residential school.  I personally want to read this one myself! (112 pages)
Fatty Legs
  • Jordan-Fenton, Christy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 09/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Annick Press (Publisher)
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdich
The first in a series, this book is set in Lake Superior in 1847, this book tells the story of a Native American girl growing up. (256 pages)
The Birchbark House (Birchbark House, 1)
  • Erdrich, Louise (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 06/03/2002 (Publication Date) - Hyperion Books for Children (Publisher)
*The author continues this series with The Game of Silence, The Porcupine Year, Chickadee, and Makoons

On This Long Journey, the Journal of Jesse Smoke, a Cherokee Boy, Trail of Tears, 1838 by Joseph Bruchac
The story of the Trail of Tears is told through a 16 year old young man’s eyes in the form of a journal.  We read this as a read aloud when the boys were younger and it captured and held their attention well. (208 pages)

On This Long Journey, the Journal of Jesse Smoke, a Cherokee Boy, the Trail of Tears, 1838 (My Name Is America)
  • Bruchac, Joseph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 01/07/2014 (Publication Date) - Scholastic Paperbacks (Publisher)
Legends of the Seminoles by Betty M Jumper, Guy LaBree, and Peter Gallagher
This is a collection of Seminole stories told to children over hundreds of years.  One of the authors, Betty M Jumper, was a leader of the Seminole people. (196 pages)
Legends of the Seminoles
  • Jumper, Betty M (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 09/01/1994 (Publication Date) - Pineapple Press (Publisher)
Island of the Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
This Newbery Medal winner was written in 1960 and is based upon the true story of a Nicoleno Native American woman left stranded alone on an island off of the California coast for 18 years in the 1800s.  The boys enjoyed listening to this one in the car. (192 pages)

Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • Gripping tale of karana’s survival, strength, and courage amidst vivid descriptions of island life
  • Recommended for grades 2-5
  • 192 pages
  • O'Dell, Scott (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Race to the Sun by Rick Riordan
This is a typical Riordan modern day adventure with twin heroes who are Navajo.  The story is full of Navajo mythology. (320 pages)
Rick Riordan Presents: Race to the Sun
  • Hardcover Book
  • Roanhorse, Rebecca (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 01/14/2020 (Publication Date) - Rick Riordan Presents (Publisher)
When the Chenoo Howls, Native American Tales of Terror, by Joseph and James Bruchac
This is a collection of 12 traditional Native American tales from a variety of tribes that live in the Northeastern United States.  (160 pages)

When the Chenoo Howls: Native American Tales of Terror
  • Bruchac, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 11/01/1999 (Publication Date) - Walker Childrens (Publisher)

Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac
This book tells of the relationships between children in a Mohawk tribe.  A village-wide lacrosse game is included! (150 pages)

Children of the Longhouse
  • Bruchac, Joseph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 150 Pages - 08/01/1998 (Publication Date) - Puffin Books (Publisher)

American Girl Series: Kaya
The American Girl series has several books about Kaya, a girl from the Nez Perce tribe in the Pacific Northwest. (Approximately 200 pages each.)

The Journey Begins: A Kaya Classic Volume 1 (American Girl)
  • Shaw, Janet (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 08/28/2014 (Publication Date) - American Girl (Publisher)

Who Was…? Books
The Who Was…? books are biographies that are written for upper elementary school and can even be used into early middle school as well.  (I learn plenty from them!)  Here are a few about Native Americans. (Approximately 110 pages each.)

Who Was Sacagawea?
  • Bloom Fradin, Judith (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 02/18/2002 (Publication Date) - Penguin Young Readers Group (Publisher)
Who Was Maria Tallchief?
  • Gourley, Catherine (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 07/22/2002 (Publication Date) - Penguin Workshop (Publisher)
Who Was Sitting Bull?
  • Spinner, Stephanie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 12/26/2014 (Publication Date) - Penguin Workshop (Publisher)

Check out our FREE Unit Study for the book about Sacagawea!

Native American Books, Ages 12 and Up

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac
Navajo code talkers were an important part of the US effort during World War II, but their story remained classified for many years.  This novel brings this true story to life. (231 pages)

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two
  • Bruchac, Joseph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 231 Pages - 07/06/2006 (Publication Date) - Speak (Publisher)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This novel is based upon the author’s own experiences growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.  Note: This book is written as if a high schooler wrote it with all the language and topics that a high schooler may put in a diary so please review before deciding if it is right for your teen.  (229 pages)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (National Book Award Winner)
  • Great product!
  • Alexie, Sherman (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 04/01/2009 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Publisher)
Hidden Roots by Joseph Bruchac
This book, set in the 1950s in upstate New York, tells of one family’s struggle  of losing and trying to find their identity and culture as part of the Abenaki tribe. (152 pages)

Hidden Roots
  • Bruchac, Joseph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 152 Pages - 01/31/2011 (Publication Date) - (Publisher)
Have you read any of these books?  What other books would you include in this list?  Please comment below!

Other Native American Resources

Pinnable cover for blog post Native American Tribes FREE Unit Study showing books, projects and printable notebooking pages.