Exploring Native American Fiction Books for Middle Schoolers

As young readers grow and expand their worldview, it’s important for them to be exposed to diverse cultural perspectives. One such perspective is that of Native American fiction, offering unique insights into the rich and complex histories and cultures of indigenous peoples. In this article, we will explore some notable Native American fiction books that are specifically tailored to middle school audiences.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie

This award-winning novel tells the story of a young Native American boy named Junior who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Struggling with poverty, racial tensions, and an underfunded school, Junior decides to attend the nearby all-white high school. The book is both humorous and heartbreaking, exploring themes of identity, friendship, and the challenges of growing up. It’s a must-read for any middle schooler seeking to gain a deeper understanding of contemporary Native American life.

“Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two” by Joseph Bruchac

This historical fiction novel follows the true story of Ned Begay, a Navajo boy who becomes a code talker during World War Two. Code talkers were members of the US military who used their native language to create an unbreakable code. Bruchac’s book does an excellent job of portraying life on the reservation, as well as the complexities of war and the value of indigenous languages.

“When the Shadbush Blooms” by Carla Messinger and Susan Katz

This picture book tells the story of one family’s journey through the seasons and the traditional Lenape celebrations that mark them. The book is both a gentle introduction to Native American culture and an opportunity to appreciate the joy of family and the natural world. It’s a great choice for readers who are not yet ready for chapter books but still want to learn about Native American culture.

“The Birchbark House” by Louise Erdrich

This book is set in the mid-19th century and follows the life of Omakayas, a young Ojibwe girl growing up near the shores of Lake Superior. The story explores themes of family, survival, and cultural identity, and vividly portrays traditional Ojibwe life, including customs, beliefs, and traditions. With an engaging narrative style and strong female protagonist, “The Birchbark House” is a fantastic choice for readers of all backgrounds.

In conclusion, Native American fiction books offer middle school readers a vital new perspective on cultural diversity and the experiences of indigenous peoples. Start with these four fantastic books to get your young reader started on their journey of exploration and understanding.

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