Literacy is a right that everyone in any part of the world should have access to regardless of their race, gender, nationality, and even ethnicity.
In celebration of this year’s World Book and Copyright Day, which focuses on protecting and uplifting indigenous languages, I’ve compiled 5 books that highlight the lives of indigenous young adults and how they persevered despite the pressure to conform to other societal status quos.
Official Synopsis: When eight-year-old 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 the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene’s parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, I Am Not a Number is a hugely necessary book that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.
Official Synopsis: “You’re gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine” is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling novel. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez,” and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny’s world is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages–and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of Indigenous life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams.
Official Synopsis: “Imagine this: You’re having an amazing family holiday, one where everyone is there and all 18 of you are squeezed into one house. All of sudden it’s 4 o’clock in the morning and there’s banging and yelling and screaming. The Police are in the house pulling people out of bed …”
Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia’s main worries are how she can earn enough pocket money to buy the groovy go-go boots that are all the rage, and if she will die of embarrassment giving a speech she has to do for school! It comes as a surprise to Sofia and her family when her big brother, Lenny, talks about protests, overstayers and injustices against Pacific Islanders.
Through her spirited and heartfelt diary entries, we join Sofia as she navigates life in the 1970s and is inspired by the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights.
My New Zealand Story is a series of vividly imagined accounts of life in the past … making history come alive.
Official Synopsis: A young Aboriginal girl is taken from the north of Australia and sent to an institution in the distant south. There, she slowly makes a new life for herself and, in the face of tragedy, finds strength in new friendships.
Poignantly told from the child’s perspective, Sister Heart affirms the power of family and kinship.
Official Synopsis: Lewis “Shoe” Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he’s not used to is white people being nice to him — people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan’s side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis’s home — will he still be his friend?