2021 Reading Challenge: Read a book by a Native, First Nations or Indigenous author

OPL invites patrons to take part in the 2021 Reading Challenge! For each challenge, OPL offers suggestions for titles to listen to or read. As you’re working through the challenge, feel free to tag @omahalibrary on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, to let us know which read you picked up this month!

Readers are being offered more and more books by Native, First Nations and Indigenous authors these days, in more genres and settings than ever before! At OPL, we recognize and honor the past, present, and future of Native, First Nations and Indigenous people and through these books, and invite you to learn more about their rich cultures, experiences, and connection to their land.  

Challenging the stereotype that their stories must be historic, spiritual or tied to nature, these books expand the narrative of what it means to hold one of these identities. The depth and breadth of these authors’ cultures and experiences cannot be limited to stock formulas and these books remind us of that. Native, First Nations and Indigenous authors are writing in new ways that explore identity. No matter your genre, we’ve got a book within this challenge for you!

The horror and thriller genres offer especially strong work by Native, First Nations and Indigenous authors right now. Often referred to as the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones, opens a new window provides scares couched in social satire. For thrillers, check out Moon of the Crusted Snow, opens a new window by Waubgeshig Rice or Empire of Wild, opens a new window by Cherie Dimaline. Fantasy and sci-fi readers also have some great options, including The Hatak Witches, opens a new window by Devon A. Mihesuah, Walking the Clouds, opens a new window edited by Grace L. Dillon or Black Sun, opens a new window by Rebecca Roanhorse. 

If you’re a memoir fan, you’re covered. Check out any of the following: The Woman Who Watches Over the World, opens a new window by Linda Hogan, Blonde Indian, opens a new window by Ernestine Hayes, or Mamaskatch, opens a new window by Darrel J. McLeod. For poetry readers, Living Nations, Living Words, opens a new window collected by Joy Harjo is the perfect anthology to find your new favorite poet. Recommended works by a single poet that fit this challenge include Nature Poem, opens a new window by Tommy Pico, Approaching Fire, opens a new window by Michelle Porter, and anything by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, opens a new window. Harjo is the first Native American to hold that title. 

Readers of graphic novels should check out the Moonshot, opens a new window collection or Redbone, opens a new window by Christian Staebler

For more great reads in the nonfiction category, Notable Native People, opens a new window by Adrienne Keene and Shapes of Native Nonfiction, opens a new window edited by Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton are excellent places to start. Seven Fallen Feathers, opens a new window by Tanya Talaga and Genocidal Love, opens a new window by Bevann Fox provide perspective on the terror of residential schools. New Native Kitchen, opens a new window by Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli shares a contemporary twist on indigenous ingredients, and Enrique Salmón’s Iwígara, opens a new window teaches readers how plants can be both medicine and food. 

For more ideas check out this list, opens a new window, or request a custom reading list or book bundle, opens a new window, tailored to your interests by OPL librarians.

You may submit your completed reading log online, opens a new window or return a completed tracking sheet to any OPL branch to receive a pin and to be entered into a drawing for some fun literary-themed prizes! All completed tracking sheets or online challenge form entries must be received by December 31, 2021, to be entered into the prize drawing.