Native voices

Nov. 10—WENATCHEE — The North Central Washington Libraries will mark Native American Heritage Month with a virtual reading challenge focusing on books at all age levels by Native American authors.

"As part of our online reading app Beanstack, we do different reading challenges each month," said Teen Services Director Jessica Lynch. "And this month, the challenge is aligned with Native American Heritage Month."

November was first designated Native American History Month in 1990, with a proclamation by President George Bush, according to the government website Similar presidential proclamations have been issued every year since 1994.

NCW Libraries has a list of suggested titles for the challenge, including selections for very young children, middle schoolers, teens and adults. Themes are varied, as are the tribal origins of the authors. The books are curated by Beanstack staff, Lynch said, and then vetted by NCW Libraries staff, who also make sure there are enough copies to go around.

"One (book) that I wanted to give a little shout out to is "A Snake Fell to Earth" by Darcie Little Badger," said Area Manager Alicia O'Dell. "That book has been suggested by various of our librarians. And that one, right now, is the big library read through Libby, which is one of our e-book/e-audiobook platforms. So what that means is if folks are using our Libby app with their library card, we have unlimited copies of that one so everyone has digital access to it and can read it as an e-book."

"A Snake Falls to Earth" is a fantasy novel aimed at teenage readers that draw on Little Badger's Lipan Apache roots, according to the book's Amazon summary. Another book the library staff recommended was "The Seed Keeper," by Dakota author Diane Wilson, who appeared in an online "author talk" with the library system on Nov. 3, along with Colville Confederated Tribes activist Mary Big Bull Lewis.

"That was a book that we were really promoting across our system because we were in conversation with her," O'Dell said. "And that's available in print, audio and digital format. It's been a fantastic book. It was published in 2020 or 202, and it just continues to be on all the reading lists."

Beanstack can be found on the NCW Libraries website at or downloaded as a phone or tablet app. Users create a free account and Beanstack tracks their reading and suggests books, according to the website.

"We do various kinds of reading programs with a library where we encourage folks to be tracking the reading that they're doing. Beanstack is an online version of that," said O'Dell. "(Beanstack offers) incentive programs where they earn digital badges for hitting different kinds of milestones, like every hour that they read, they might earn a badge, a challenge, or different kinds of activities that might go along with that (book)."

In addition to the reading challenge, NCW Libraries will host "Salmon: Showing Us the Way Home," a virtual conversation with representatives of the Upper Columbia United Tribes, Wenatchee River Institute and Cascade Fisheries about their collaborative approach to salmon recovery. That event will be held online at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14. Washington State Poet Laureate will also pay a visit to the Winthrop Library on Nov. 18. Priest, a member of the Lummi Nation, is the first Indigenous person to serve in the state position and her platform celebrates the poetry of tribal communities, according to a statement from NCW Libraries.

"We just want to really encourage people to check out this list and maybe check out maybe something they haven't read, and continue to read books about new experiences," O'Dell said. "I think it's a really important way to increase learning and empathy with each other."


NCW Libraries staff recommend these books for various ages as part of the Native American Heritage Month reading challenge:

Young children

"We Are Water Protectors," written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade

"Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story," written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

"Berry Song," by Michaela Goade

Elementary school readers

"Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids," by Cynthia Leitich Smith

"Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez," written by Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales and illustrated by Aphelandra

Middle-grade readers

"Elatsoe," written by Darcie Little Badger and illustrated by Rovina Cai

"Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask: Young Readers Edition," by Anton Treuer

"I Can Make This Promise," by Christine Day


"Firekeeper's Daughter," by Angeline Boulley

"A Snake Falls to Earth," by Darcie Little Badger


"Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land," by Toni Jensen

"Poet Warrior: A Memoir," by Joy Harjo

"The Seed Keeper," by Diane Wilson