When an educator discovers a book with Native characters, it’s important to evaluate whether that book is a positive addition to their curriculum. There are many organizations who provide tools to evaluate a book’s Indigenous representation and if it’s considered culturally accurate. The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) provides educators with a “Worksheet for Selecting Native American Children’s Literature.” The worksheet contains a checklist with questions regarding five different aspects: Authority, Accurate Representation, Tribal Specificity, Language, and Contemporary Life.
If an educator would like insight on a specific title, it’s best to research the opinions of Native, First Nation, and Indigenous people and determine whether they would recommend that title. There are many Indigenous organizations who have compiled lists of recommended books, and educators can investigate whether a specific title is included in these lists. For example, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) compiles a yearly list of “Best Books.” Furthermore, the School Library Journal (SLJ) has published a list of “classic” titles called “Top 100 Books by Indigenous Masters,” and the American Indian Library Association (AILA) has a yearly selection for their Youth Literature Award. Finally, Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee) has a list called “Native American Authors and Illustrators in Children’s and Young Adult Books,” which recommends books published between 1995 and 2020.