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Children's Literature Guide

Guide for children's literature awards winners

About the Award

The first AILA American Indian Youth Literature Awards were presented during the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in 2006. Awarded biennially, the AIYLA identifies and honors the very best writing and illustrations by Native Americans and Indigenous peoples of North America. Books selected to receive the award present Indigenous North American peoples in the fullness of their humanity. In odd-numbered years, nominations are encouraged in fiction or nonfiction and may include graphic novels; for picture books, the award is for both author and illustrator. Awards are granted in even-numbered years. Authors/illustrators may win the American Indian Youth Literature Award in the categories Best Picture Book, Best Middle Grade Book, and Best Young Adult Book. In addition, up to five awards may be selected as Honors books in each category.

Award Winners

Award Date Title/ Author and Illustrator-  Call Number
2022- Youth Winner

Herizon by Daniel Vandever

Herizon follows the journey of a Diné girl as she helps her grandmother retrieve a flock of sheep. Join in her venture across land and water with the help of a magical scarf that will expand your imagination and transform what you thought possible. The inspiring story celebrates creativity and bravery, while promoting an inclusive future made possible through intergenerational strength and knowledge.

PZ7.1.V363484 Her 2021
2022- Middle School Winner Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young

"Brian Young's powerful debut novel tells of a seemingly ordinary Navajo boy who must save the life of a Water Monster-- and comes to realize he's a hero at heart."-- Provided by publisher

PZ7.1.Y6795 He 2021
2022- Young Adult Winner

Apple Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth

"The term 'Apple' is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly 'red on the outside, white on the inside.' Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple (Skin to the Core). The story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds. Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse and prose and imagery that truly lives up to the word heartbreaking." -- Inside front jacket flap.

 PZ7.G1532 App 2020
2020- Honor Title

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble

Using illustrations that show the diversity in Native America and spare poetic text that emphasizes fry bread in terms of provenance, this volume tells the story of a post-colonial food that is a shared tradition for Native American families all across the North American continent. Includes a recipe and an extensive author note that delves into the social ways, foodways, and politics of America's 573 recognized tribes.

PZ7.1.M34683 Fry 2019
2020- Honor Book

Birdsong by Julie Flett 

  PZ7.F63585 Bi 2019
2020- Youth Winner

Bowwow Powwow

On order
2020- Middle School Winner

Indian No More

On order
2020- Young Adult Winner

Hearts Unbroken

When Louise Wolfe's boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. She'd rather spend her senior year with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, an ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper's staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director's inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey. But 'dating while Native' can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey's? -- adapted from jacket

PZ7.S64464 Hea 2018
2018- Youth Winner

Shanyaak'utlaax̲ = Salmon boy by Johnny Marks

"After a Tlingit mother gives her son a dried piece of salmon with mold on the end, he flings it away in disgust, committing a taboo. This offends the Salmon People, who sweep him into the water and into their world, where they name him Shanyaak'utlaax̲ or Salmon Boy. Find out what happens to Shanyaak'utlaax̲ in this ancient Tlingit story"--Dust jacket.

PZ8.1 .S43 2017
2018- Middle School Winner

Tales of the Might Code Breakers: Volume 1

on order
2018- Young Adult Winner #NotYourPrincess by Cynthia Leitich Smith on order