American Indian Youth Literature Awards

The American Indian Youth Literature Awards are presented every two years. The awards were established as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. Books selected to receive the award will present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts. The First American Indian Library Association American Indian Youth Literature Awards were presented during the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in 2006.

Year: 2016

Little You

Author: Richard Van Camp

The minimal text and illustrations convey the message that babies bring joy into their own families and also the larger world.

Year: 2016

Mission to Space

Author: John Herrington

Learn about some of the training requirements for astronauts and Commander John Herrington’s mission to the International Space Station. Commander Herrington also shares his Chickasaw heritage and vocabulary of his people.

Year: 2014

Caribou Song/Atihko Nikamon

Author: Tomson Highway

Story Summary: Joe and Cody live with their families in Manitoba, Canada away from cities or even villages. They live a traditional Cree lifestyle following the caribou (atihkwa), singing songs, dancing, and playing the accordion (kitoochigan).

Year: 2012

My Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood

Author: Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve

Virginia’s family and many others in her community in South Dakota are accustomed to receiving clothing that has been sent to them in boxes by people in the Eastern U.S. Virginia’s mother expects her to allow others to select items from the boxes before she does. This year Virginia is hoping to replace her too small coat and is having difficulty watching another girl pick the coat she’d like to have.

Year: 2010

Meet Christopher: An Osage Indian Boy from Oklahoma

Author: Genevieve Simermeyer

This book provides a look at how some Osage people live today. Christopher’s contemporary life includes the desire to retain his heritage as a member of the Osage people.

Year: 2010

Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light

Author: Tin Tingle

This story is about a young boy and his grandmother’s journey from blindness to being able to see. The young boy learns that there are many different reasons behind how his grandmother became blind. One of those reasons is because someone threw a stone at her. The term “saltypie” came to be when the young boy’s father had tasted the blood that was dripping down his mother’s face after the incident with the stone. The term “saltypie” was then used by everyone in the family to describe troubling situations in which they must face to get through. This term is repeated throughout the book to show how the family continues to use this term. The repetition of the term helps the reader to understand the importance of the term “saltypie” and the significance the term has when it comes to overcoming obstacles and how specifically this American Indian handles these obstacles.


Year: 2010

A Coyote Solstice

Author: Thomas King

Coyote is preparing for his friends to arrive at his house for a holiday get-together when a young girl dressed as a reindeer arrives unexpectedly.  She leads Coyote and his friends to a mall where Coyote learns the hard way that the items in the mall are not free.  An entertaining tale about the downside of materialism.

Year: 2006

Crossing Bok Chitto

Author: Tim Tingle

There is a river called Bok Chitto which runs through Mississippi creating a boundary. One side of the river holds the Choctaw people and the other side of the river is a plantation that holds the owners of that plantation and their slaves. If the slaves are able to cross this river then they are free and there is nothing that the owners of the slaves can do, they would be free. A little girl named Martha Tom is told to find blackberries for a wedding that her mother is to cook for. She finds herself on the opposite side of the river than what she is supposed to be on. She sees a group of black people coming together chanting “we are bound for the Promised Land”. While on this side of the river she meets a little boy named Little Mo. Little Mo is told by his father to get Martha Tom back to her side of the river. After this first encounter the little girl and boy become friends for years to come. One day Little Mo’s family gets told that his mother was being sold. Little Mo comes up with the plan of getting across the river without anyone seeing them. They get across and the Choctaw people take them into safety. Little Mo and his family a finally safe and free.