For immediate release | January 28, 2019

American Indian Youth Literature Awards highlighted during ALA Youth Media Awards

SEATTLE – The American Indian Library Association’s (AILA) American Indian Youth Literature Awards were highlighted today during the American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Award announcements. The awards are presented in even-numbered years, and new selection announcements will take place during the 2020 Youth Media Awards announcements on Jan. 27, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Established in 2006, the American Indian Youth Literature Awards identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians and Alaska Natives for young, middle school, and teen readers. Winner and honor titles present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.

Librarians and library staff work to transform lives by connecting youth with materials that celebrate diversity, abolish cultural invisibility, and foster understanding. The addition of the American Indian Youth Literature Award announcements to the ALA Youth Media awards supports the Association’s effort to bring awareness about and encourage the creation of more books that depict diverse cultures or are written by authors of color.

Parents, educators and librarians are encouraged to celebrate 2018 titles as publishers and the library community eagerly await the unveiling of the next of the best of the best in in American Indian literature.

2018 AILA Best Picture Book“Shanyaak’utlaax: Salmon Boy,” published by Sealaska Heritage Institute. Illustrated by Tlingit artist Michaela Goade and edited by Tlingit speakers Johnny Marks, Hans Chester, David Katzeek, Nora Dauenhauer and Tlingit linguist Richard Dauenhauer.

Shanyaak'utlaax: Salmon Boy comes from an ancient Tlingit story that teaches about respect for nature, animals, and culture. The title character, a Tlingit boy, violates these core cultural values when he flings away a dried piece of salmon given to him by his mother because it has mold on it. His disrespect offends the Salmon People, who sweep him into the water and into their world.

AILA Picture Book Honor titlesinclude “All Around Us,” written by XelenaGonzález and illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia, Cinco Puntos Press; “Black Bear Red Fox,” written and illustrated by Julie Flett, Native Northwest; “Fall in Line, Holden!” written and illustrated by Daniel W. Vandever, Salina Bookshelf, Inc; “I’m Dreaming Of...Animals of the Native Northwest,” written by Melaney Gleeson-Lyall and illustrated by First Nations Artists, Native Northwest; and “Mission to Space,” written and illustrated by John Herrington, White Dog Press.

2018 AILA Best Middle School Book

“Talesof the Mighty Code Talkers: Volume One” (2016), published by Native Realities, edited by Arigon Starr and featuring the work of Theo Tso, Jonathan Nelson, Kristina Bad Hand, Roy Boney Jr., Lee Francis IV, Johnnie Diacon, Weshoyot Alvitre, Renee Nejo, and Michael Sheyahshe.

“Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers: Volume One” details the tremendous contribution of Native Americans in wartime. Based on true stories, this graphic novel features nine original stories by Native American artists and writers documenting the heroic tales of Code Talkers from World War I through the Korean Conflict. The graphic novel also features a history of the Code Talkers and a lesson plan for teachers who wish to use the book to teach students about the struggle and accomplishments of our nation’s Native American heroes.

The 2018 Middle Grade Honor Book is “The Wool of Jonesy Part 1,” written and illustrated by Jonathan Nelson, Native Realities.

2018 AILA Best Young Adult Book“#Not Your Princess: Voices of Native American Women,” published by Annick Press, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale.

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling “Dreaming in Indian,” “#NotYourPrincess” presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard.

2018 Young Adult Honor Booksinclude “Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology,” edited by Hope Nicholson, Bedside Press; “Marrow Thieves,” written by Cherie Dimaline, DCB (submitted by Orca Books); and “Fire Starters,” written by Jen Storm, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, and color artist Donovan Yaciuk, HighWater Press.

Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, the ALA Youth Media Awards, including the prestigious Coretta Scott King Book, Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz Awards, guide parents, educators, librarians, and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Award winners rarely go out of print and stay on library shelves for decades to come.

For more information regarding the ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit

The American Indian Library Association, an affiliate of the ALA, is a membership action group that addresses the library-related needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Members are individuals and institutions interested in the development of programs to improve library cultural and informational services in school, public,and academic libraries. AILA is committed to disseminating information about Indian cultures, languages, values, and traditions to the library community.


Jody Gray


Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services