13 recommended reads to diversify your kids' bookshelves.

Only 1% of the children’s books published in the U.S. in 2016 featured Indigenous characters.

Just a quarter of that 1% were written by Indigenous authors.

“Most of what kids see in books today are bestsellers and classics that stereotype and misrepresent native people in history," says American Indians in Children's Literature's Debbie Reese, who is Nambe Pueblo. She recommends books that veer away from those stereotypes. They feature modern-day culture, countering the notion that Indigenous people somehow vanished with the past.


This list of 13 recommended children’s books by Indigenous writers and illustrators was curated by The Conscious Kid Library and American Indians in Children’s Literature, in partnership with Brooklyn Children’s Museum. With these stories, Indigenous writers share the range of their lives, past and present.

1. "You Hold Me Up" by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel

"You Hold Me Up" by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel

This vibrant picture book encourages children to show love and support for each other in their everyday actions. This is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy, and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens. Ages 4–8.

2. "When We Were Alone" by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett

"When We Were Alone" by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett

When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. "When We Were Alone" is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, of empowerment and strength. Ages 4–8.

3. "Little You" by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett

"Little You" by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett

Richard Van Camp has partnered with award-winning illustrator Julie Flett to create a tender board book for babies and toddlers that celebrates the potential of every child. "Little You" is perfect to be shared, read or sung to all the little people in your life — and the new little ones on the way. Ages 0–5.

4. "Sweetest Kulu" by Celina Kalluk, illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis

"Sweetest Kulu" by Celina Kalluk, illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis

This bedtime poem written by Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk describes the gifts bestowed upon a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic. Lyrically and lovingly written, this visually stunning book is infused with the Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants. Ages 3–7.

5. "My Heart Fills With Happiness" by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett

"My Heart Fills With Happiness" by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett

The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy. Ages 0–5.

6. "I Am Not A Number" by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland

"I Am Not A Number" by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland

When Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from despite being told to do otherwise. When she goes home for summer holidays, her parents decide never to send her away again, but what will happen when her parents disobey the law? "I Am Not A Number" is a powerful story of resistance, resilience, family, and identity. Ages 7–11.

7. "Hiawatha and the Peacemaker" by Robbie Robertson, illustrated by David Shannon

"Hiawatha and the Peacemaker" by Robbie Robertson, illustrated by David Shannon

Born of Mohawk and Cayuga descent, Robbie Robertson learned the story of Hiawatha and the Peacemaker as part of the Iroquois oral tradition. Hiawatha was a strong Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message succeeded in uniting the tribes and forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves — a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution. Ages 5–10.

8. "Sharing Our World: Animals of the Native Northwest Coast" — an artists' collaboration

"Sharing Our World: Animals of the Native Northwest Coast" — an artists' collaboration

The images and text in this book are the collective work of First Nations and Native artists from communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Each artist from the Nuxalk, Namgis, Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw, Haisla, Heiltsuk, Haida, Bella Bella, Tsimshian, Kwa Na Ki Nulth, and Nuchatlaht Nations has shared the importance of their personal and cultural relationship to the natural world. Ages 3–7.

9. "When I Was Eight" by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

"When I Was Eight" by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Olemaun is 8 and knows a lot of things, but she doesn't know how to read. Ignoring her father’s warnings, she travels far from her Arctic home to the outsiders’ school to learn. There she encounters a black-cloaked nun who tries to break her spirit at every turn, but Olemaun is more determined than ever to learn how to read. Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. Ages 6–8.

10."Wild Berries" by Julie Flett

"Wild Berries" by Julie Flett

Tch, tch, sh, sh, tup, tup. Spend the day picking wild blueberries with Clarence and his grandmother. Meet ant, spider, and fox in the ancestral home of author and illustrator Julie Flett. This book is written in both English and Cree, in particular the n-dialect, also known as Swampy Cree from the Cumberland House area. Ages 4–8.

11. "We Sang You Home" by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett

"We Sang You Home" by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett

In this sweet and lyrical board book from the creators of the bestselling "Little You," gentle rhythmic text captures the wonder new parents feel as they welcome baby into the world. A celebration of the bond between parent and child, this is the perfect song to share with your little ones. Ages 0–5.

12. "Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey From Darkness Into Light" by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson

"Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey From Darkness Into Light" by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson

Author Tim Tingle tells the story of his family’s move from Oklahoma Choctaw country to Pasadena, Texas. Spanning 50 years, Saltypie describes the problems encountered by his Choctaw grandmother  —  from her orphan days at an Indian boarding school to hardships encountered in her new home on the Gulf Coast. Saltypie is the story of one family’s efforts to honor the past while struggling to gain a foothold in modern America. Ages 6–10.

13. "Dragonfly Kites" by Tomson Highway, illustrated by Julie Flett

"Dragonfly Kites" by Tomson Highway, illustrated by Julie Flett

Joe and Cody, two young Cree brothers, are spending the summer with their family by one of the hundreds of lakes in northern Manitoba. Summer means a chance to explore the world and make friends with an array of creatures, but what Joe and Cody like doing best of all is flying dragonfly kites. Tomson Highway brilliantly evokes the very essence of childhood as he weaves a deceptively simple story about the power of the imagination. "Dragonfly Kites" has a bilingual text, written in English and Cree. Ages 4–7.

This story first appeared on Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less
Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of CeraVe
True

"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

Keep Reading Show less