an illustration from Finding My Dance by Ria Thundercloud
Penguin Young Readers, illustration by Kalila J. Fuller

An Indigenous Author’s Favorite Children’s Books

Beautiful picks from the creator of Finding My Dance.

by Ria Thundercloud
I am a mother, dancer, choreographer, artist, and newly published author. Ria Thundercloud
Ria Thundercloud

I am dedicated to the development of my art and education while holding strong ties to the north and south with kinship to my tribal communities in Wisconsin and New Mexico as a Sandia Pueblo/ Ho-Chunk woman.

My new children’s book, Finding My Dance, taps into my personal story of dance and heritage.Penguin Young Readers, illustration by Kalila J. Fuller
Penguin Young Readers, illustration by Kalila J. Fuller

My cultural experiences have inspired the range of artistic expression seen through my traditional and indigenous contemporary dance. Indigenous contemporary dance takes elements of transformation and connection and creates a safe space to explore blood memory.

Tapping into these senses provokes emotion and passion creating movement through the body. This release of emotions gives me a chance to aggressively or passively speak without using words.

Historical trauma is something that has been a part of our identity and resilience since contact. Finding positive ways to release these emotions allows for the trauma to stop being transmitted generation after generation.
Penguin Young Readers, illustration by Kalila J. Fuller

Indigenous dance honors past, present & future generations celebrating life and all life forms. Revitalization of indigenous values through intentional movement and breath will fight for cultural awareness, visibility and justice.

Oftentime Indigenous peoples are looked at as people of the past.

Being able to publish a children’s book has been a huge honor and privilege. It honors all the native peoples stories and validates that our livelihoods are valid and authentic. Penguin Young Readers, illustration by Kalila J. Fuller
Ria Thundercloud
I’m happy to share here a list of children’s books I admire from native authors and people of color...
A beautiful book that emphasizes using your voice as a tool. The book shares the gift of using your voice for change to protect people, communities and mother earth.
see on books a million
An awesome book that follows the journey of a dog traveling to a pow wow. This story explore the festivities and excitement of a pow wow, eventually leading up to dancing in the pow wow circle. Brenda Child’s story is accompanied by a companion retelling in Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain.
See on Barnes and Noble
A beautiful story of a young girl who is fighting the black snake, an analogy for fighting for Mother Earth and ecological awareness. Honoring the next seven generations, it is a powerful message — a young brave woman used her voice and knowledge to fight for the land that is considered kinship.
see on Bookshop
A book that is so relatable to many Indigenous nations that have received rations. The book honors the various styles of frybread that have been made from all over North America and honors that feeding is a love language to Indigenous peoples.
see on bookshop
This beautiful book tells the Santa Ana Pueblo legend of how the sun, moon and stars were created by the animal spirit leader, who invited certain animals to climb from their homes in the Third World up to the Fourth World.
see on abe books
This beautifully aligned story of words and illustrations gives young readers a wonderful introduction to the Raven, telling the folklore story of how Raven entered a world of darkness and used its smarts to take the light with him and bring light to the world we live in today.
see on amazon
A beautiful journey of Misty Copeland, one of the first people of color to be a principal dancer in a prestigious ballet company. It shows that her fear of stepping onto the stage is fueled by love and passion. The story leads up to her big performance, as The Firebird.
see on Bookshop

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