Teacher Guide: Best Books for Native American Heritage Month and FREE Classroom Resources

November is Native American Heritage Month. Celebrate in your classroom with these fantastic picture books, crafts, and activities.

Fry Bread

Fry Bread is the story of a Native American family that’s shows the importance of fry bread in Native American culture. Fry bread is so much more than food. “Fry bread is time…Fry bread is nation…Fry bread is us.” Kevin Noble Maillard does a fantastic job of showing how food brings people together, particularly generations within a Native American family.

Click here for a FREE Native American fry bread recipe.

Fry Bread is best fit for grades K-3.

Bowwow Powwow

In Bowwow Powwow by Brenda Child, Windy Girl, Uncle, and Itchy Boy attend a Native American powwow where there are dancers in jingle dresses, music, tasty food, and a campfire. When Windy falls asleep under the stars, her wild imagination comes out and her dreams take a whole new twist on the wonders of the bowwow powwow.

Click here for a fantastic FREE resource about the Powwow for kids. A Pow-wow drum craft and coloring sheet is also provided!

Bowwow Powwow is best fit for grades K-3.

A River Ran Wild

A River Ran Wild is a wonderful Native American story in which Lynne Cherry portrays the reverence and respect Native Americans have for nature. As factories and paper mills pollute the Nashua River, a river that once flowed freely becomes murky and clogged. When a descendent of the chief has a dream of his mourning on the polluted river, he and his friend Marion decide something must be done. With their efforts, they are able to restore the beautiful Nashua River. A River Ran Wild is also an excellent book to use for Earth Day lessons.

Click here for my comprehension printables for A River Ran Wild.

A River Ran Wild is best for upper elementary (grades 3-5).


Encounter by Jane Yolen is truly one of the most eye opening Native American picture books I have ever read with my class. This story is told from the point of view of a young Taino Native American boy. It is about the first encounter the Taino Native Americans have with Christopher Columbus and the European explorers. The boy tries to warn the chief and his people not to welcome the strangers who seem more interested in what they can gain than in friendship. This is also an excellent book to use when teaching different perspectives on Columbus and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Click here for comprehension task card and a figurative language resource to accompany Encounter. For more about teaching different perspectives with Encounter by Jane Yolen, see my blog post here.

Encounter is best for upper elementary (grades 3-6).

We Are Still Here

Another must read for Native American Heritage Month is Traci Sorell’s We Are Still Here: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know. This book serves as a necessary reminder that Native Americans are still relevant relevant and here among us. The hardships faced by indigenous peoples should not be forgotten about. This book covers many topics that students will be interested in learning about, such as Native civil rights, religious freedom, cultural persistence, and more.

Click here for more information from History For Kids about life on reservations and Native American Rights

We Are Still Here is best for upper elementary (grades 3-5).

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Another fantastic book by Traci Sorell is We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. This book shows the gratitude expressed by the Cherokee Native Americans. In this book, Sorell shows a full Cherokee year of cultural celebrations for kids to learn about.

Click here for more information about the Cherokee Tribe for kids.

We Are Grateful is a great fit for the lower grades (K-3).

We are Water Protectors

Of course, I can’t make a list of best Native American picture books without including We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. Like A River Ran Wild, this story also highlights the urgent need to protect Earth’s water from harm. Carole Lindstrom uses a black snake as a metaphor for the oil pipeline that threatens earth’s water.

We Are Water Protectors is a wonderful fit for the lower grades (K-3).

More Native American Books to Consider

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Smith

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola

Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving: A New Look at Thanksgiving (National Geographic) by Catherine O’Neill Grace

Additional Classroom Resources for Native American Heritage Month

FREE American Indian History and Heritage Teacher’s Guide from the from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Explore Native American art with this FREE resource! There is even an interactive digital tool that allows students to weave a virtual Wampum Belt.

Task Cards and Figurative Language interactive student notebook to accompany Encounter by Jane Yolen

Exploring Different Perspectives of the Discovery of America activities using Encounter and A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus

FREE PBS Learning Media Native American Heritage Collection

A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry comprehension printables

Tomie dePaola The Legend of the Bluebonnet comprehension printables

Make Native American Fry Bread with this FREE recipe.

FREE Powwow Drum coloring page and Powwow Drum Beater Craft from Daria Music.

For FREE lesson ideas, books, and resources, subscribe below. Follow my store and Pinterest for additional freebies, tips, and ideas.

I hope you enjoy!

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