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Indigenous Children's Literature

Books & Media

In recent years, there has been increased pressure on the children's publishing industry to invest in #OwnVoices books: books with diverse characters and experiences that are also written by people who share those identities. This is particularly important in books which foreground Indigenous characters and experiences, as non-Indigenous writers have a history of misrepresentation, stereotyping, and well-meaning cultural appropriation ["I" is not for Indian: AILA]. Dr Adrienne Keane argues that:

“I want Native peoples to be able to represent ourselves. I love the idea of Indigenous science fiction, of Indigenous futurisms, of Indigenous fanfiction, and Indigenous characters in things comics and superhero storylines. I know it can be done, and it can be done right and done well. But it has to be done carefully, with boundaries respected [...] and frankly, I want Native peoples to write it. We’ve been misrepresented by outsiders every which-way, and it’s time for us to reclaim our stories and images, and push them into the future, ourselves.

- Dr Adrienne Keene (Cherokee), Native Appropriations.

The X̱wi7x̱wa Library often notes materials by Indigenous authors or with Indigenous illustrators.

In the UBC Library Catalogue, find Indigenous-authored material by combining a search for "First Nations author" with your search terms.
    Example: "First Nations author" education

When viewing search results, look for the First Nations author in the Local note field in the record:

TIP to find Indigenous illustrators try a phrase keyword search "First Nations illustrator"

Finding children's books by Indigenous authors

Try these basic strategies to begin your research in the UBC Library Catalogue:

1) Combine a Keyword for children's books with a search for Indigenous authors:

  • "Children's books" AND "First Nations author?"

TRY combining "First Nations author?" with other keywords:

  • "Picture books"
  • "Juvenile fiction"
  • "Young adult"
  • "Juvenile literature"
  • "Children's books"
  • "Literature, juvenile"

2) TRY using Xwi7xwa's unique call numbers to help you search.
Combine "first nations author?" with:
  • "YUA" for ages 9 and under and picture books
  • "YUB" for ages 9-13
  • "YUC" for ages 13+ and YA

You can use these search strategies to find books to begin your research.  There are many ways to make your search more effective. 

 TIP: Use a question mark to truncate a term to search words with the same stem.
   Example: author? searches both author and authors

Indigenous Children's Publishers

These publishers are owned and operated by Aboriginal peoples. Many of them work primarily or exclusively with Aboriginal authors or illustrators and have a strong focus on material for children or young adults.

TIP: Combine your search for children's literature on the UBC Library catalogue with the name of a publisher.
   Example: "childrens books" AND "Theytus books"