Early Years Book Recommendations

The books below are alphabetized by author, and include for which grade(s) they are most appropriate.



By: Nicola I. Campbell


Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping.

Online read-aloud

Shin-Chi’s Canoe

By: Nicola I. Campbell


The sequel to Shi shi etko includes Shi-shi-etko’s brother Shin-chi joining her at school.


Stolen Words

By: Melanie Florence


This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.


Lucy & Lola

By: Monique Gray Smith

(Early Years)

Lucy and Lola are 11-year-old twins who are heading to Gabriola Island, BC, to spend the summer with their Kookum (grandmother) while their mother studies for the bar exam. During their time with Kookum, the girls begin to learn about her experiences in being sent — and having to send their mother — to Residential school. Ultimately, they discover what it means to be intergenerational survivors.


I Lost My Talk

By: Rita Joe

(Early & Middle Years)

This poem is about Rita Joe losing her native language; it refers to the experiences she had in school while she was in foster care. Rita Joe was orphaned and put into foster care at a young age.

When I Was Eight

By: Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton


A strong-willed young Inuit girl receives permission from her father to travel to a residential religious school run by non-Inuit outsiders, where she struggles to adapt to the new way of living.

Online read-aloud


Orange Shirt Day

By: The Orange Shirt Day Society


This book (released in Sept 2020) explores the historical impact on Indigenous people in order to create champions who will walk a path of reconciliation through Orange Shirt Day, promoting the message that Every Child Matters.

When We Were Alone

By: David Robertson


When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things about her grandmother that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long braided hair and wear beautifully coloured clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where everything was taken away.

Message from the Author


I’m Finding My Talk

By: Rebecca Thomas

(Early & Middle Years)

This book reflects on the destructive effects on colonialism, rediscovering community and finding culture.

The Orange Shirt Story & Phyllis’s Orange Shirt

By: Phyllis Webstad


When Phyllis Webstad turned six, she went to the residential school for the first time. On her first day at school, she wore a shiny orange shirt that her Granny had bought for her, but when she got to the school, it was taken away from her and never returned. This is the true story of Phyllis and her orange shirt.


When We Play Our Drums, They Sing

By: Richard Van Camp

(Early Years)

This the story of 12-year-old Dene Cho, who is angry that his people are losing their language, traditions, and ways of being. Elder Snowbird shares their history including the impact Residential schools. It is through this conversation that Dene Cho begins to find himself, and begins to realize that understanding the past can ultimately change the future.