Middle Grade: Kinship and Community

Indigenous peoples have deep connections with their lands and communities, which can contrast starkly with the colonial values of individual ownership and privatization. Our relationship with the animals and environment around us are as important as our relationship with one another.

My late father believed we have a duty to protect the land for future generations. By strengthening ties within our community, we are better equipped to help make sure our traditional lands continue to be a part of our culture and communities in the future.

In this list, you will find titles which highlight the connections we form with those in our communities, as well as the animals and environment around us.

Book cover of Ancestor Approved

Ancestor Approved

Editor

Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Nation)

Summary

Featuring the voices of new and veteran indigenous writers, and edited by bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories set at the same powwow bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. Each story can be read individually, but read as a whole, the stories play off one another and intersect, providing a cohesive narrative.

Book cover of Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer

Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer

Author

Leslie Gentile (Northern Salish/Tuscarora/Scottish)

Summary

It’s the summer of 1978 and most people think Elvis Presley has been dead for a year. But not eleven-year-old Truly Bateman—because she knows Elvis is alive and well and living at the Eagle Shores Trailer Park. Maybe no one ever thought to look for him on the Eagle Shores First Nation on Vancouver Island. While Truly has a difficult relationship with her mother, she finds warmth and acceptance from those in the community. She is also determined to prove that her cool new neighbor is the one and only King of Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Book cover of She Holds Up The Stars

She Holds Up the Stars

Author

Sandra Laronde (Teme-Augama-Anishinaabe)

Summary

The last thing that twelve-year-old Misko wants to do is to move away from the city to spend time on the rez with her grandmother; and yet she feels strangely compelled to go, drawn by a pull that she feels in her dreams. Maybe she can finally find out what happened to her mother, who mysteriously disappeared when Misko was four years old.

Misko’s relationship to the rez shifts when she encounters a spirited horse named Mishtadim, but Mishtadim is being violently broken by the rancher next door and his son Thomas. Misko and Thomas clash at first, only to find themselves drawn together by the wild horse. As Misko slowly discovers her unique bond with Mishtadim, she feels a sense of belonging and comes to understand the beauty of the world all around her. This is a powerful story of reconciliation and the interwoven threads that tie us to family, to the land, and to our own sense of self.

Book cover of Tiger Lily and the Secret Treasure of Neverland

Tiger Lily and the Secret Treasure of Neverland

Author

Cherie Dimaline (Metis Nation of Ontario)

Summary

Tiger Lily and her community, the Indigenous people of Neverland, possess a unique ability: they can choose to grow up. But for now, Tiger Lily is enjoying being thirteen, spending time with her grandmother and exploring alongside her horse and her friends.

Then Tiger Lily uncovers a plot by two of Captain Hook’s pirates, who are searching for a mysterious, powerful treasure. Determined to protect Neverland, Tiger Lily sets out on a very grown-up mission: find the treasure and keep it out of the pirates’ reckless hands.

As her journey takes her from Mermaid Lagoon to the Lost Boys’ secret fort and beyond, Tiger Lily will need to become the brave leader she has always wanted to be. Can she save her home and people she loves before it’s too late?

Conclusion

These examples highlight that kinship among Indigenous peoples goes beyond our relationship with one another. They provide young readers the opportunity to see the varying ways in which we relate to the world around us.

A headshot of author and artist Jillian Metchooyeah

About the Author

Jillian Metchooyeah

Jillian Metchooyeah is an Indigenous Canadian author/artist. She is a member of the Dene Tha’ First Nation from northern Alberta, Canada. An avid library lover, she has worked in a library for over half of her life. She currently lives in Red Deer, Alberta with her two cats and hedgehog. She loves birds and all things nature.