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Supporting our communities with books. In 2018, less than 1% of published children's books featured Indigenous characters. This means that Indigenous children have little access to characters who look like them, to books in their language, and to authors with their cultural background. We started this page because books are a pivotal educational tool to support our youth.
 
This page offers information on our archived fundraiser for Navajo Nation, ways to get involved, and Indigenous book recommendations. 

100%

Native-led. Native-written books. For Native youths.

$40k+

Dollars raised for Navajo youth to get books

2k+

Books donated to Navajo youths

20+

Navajo book recommendations for parents and educators 

Amazon Wishlist

Help us send Indigenous books in our robot kits to Indigenous youths. 

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The STEAM Connection x Little Moccasins Education Services

Books for Diné Bikéyah
A Fundraiser

The Navajo Nation, which is over 27,000 square miles, has the most COVID-19 infections per capita. Many students do not have access to WiFi and the virus has led to decreased access to important educational resources like in-person schooling, summer programs, and camps. Many children are not able to leave their homes/communities due to evening and weekend curfews and a stay at home order. These books will be a huge support to young Navajo children during these tough times by bringing light to their traditional stories of resilience. 

 

In the summer of 2020 during the pandemic, we raised money to support Diné authors and children by buying Diné children’s books and sending them out to children for free through local COVID-19 Relief packages for families in Navajo Nation. 

 

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018, less than 1% of published children’s books featured Indigenous characters. This means that Indigenous children have little access to characters that look like them, to books that are in their language, and to authors with their cultural background. 

With the help of Salina Bookshelf matching our donations, we raised $40,000+ dollars to send books to youth across Navajo Nation for free. We partnered with Orena Tribe (now 4Kinship) for distribution aid in their COVID-19 Relief Kits. We are so thankful for our donors and partners who made this possible.

This project has gone on to inspire SkoBots and SkoBots Shop.

 
 
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The Books

An incomprehensive list of the books that we purchased and love by Navajo authors! This list was created by our mentor Dr. Joshuaa Allison-Burbank, a Developmental Scientist at Johns Hopkins University.

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First Laugh--Welcome, Baby!

In Navajo families, the first person to make a new baby laugh hosts the child's First Laugh Ceremony. Who will earn the honor in this story?

The First Laugh Ceremony is a celebration held to welcome a new member of the community. As everyone--from Baby's nima (mom) to nadi (big sister) to cheii (grandfather)--tries to elicit the joyous sound from Baby, readers are introduced to details about Navajo life and the Navajo names for family members. 

300+ of these books have been purchased/donated!

Keeping the Rope Straight: Annie Dodge Wauneka's Life of Service to the Navajo

Annie Wauneka devoted her life to helping her people. Inspired by the example of her father, Henry Chee Dodge, Annie immersed herself in tribal politics and became a leader in battle against tuberculosis. With amazing skill and foresight, Annie melded traditional Navajo culture with the modern world, and brought about unprecedented improvements in the healthcare and education available to her people. As a Tribal Council delegate and chairperson of the Health and Welfare Committee, she changed many lives and motivated countless individuals. 

We purchased 55+ copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Frog Brings Rain

Author Patricia Hruby Powell's retelling of this Navajo folktale is as graceful as it is compelling, and as magical as the mythical time it describes. Enter the village of the First People ... and become a part of the time when the world was new.

We purchased 55+ copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Zinnia: How the Corn Was Saved

When the Navajos crops fail yet again, the boy Red Bird is sent to ask Spider Woman for her help. His journey leads him to a flock of sun-yellow birds, a lizard, a Gila monster, and a snake. To each of the animals, Red Bird asks the same question: Could you tell me where the spider woman lives?

We purchased 70+ copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

The Three Little Sheep

When three little sheep set out to begin life on their own, they never dream that they will be followed by hungry coyote. Fainthearted and just a little bit nervous, each brother heads in a different direction: one travels to the east and builds a grass hut, another travels to the north and builds a tepee, and the final brother travels to the south and builds a hogan. But Coyote has heard of their plans, and he is determined to catch one of them for his dinner. 

We purchased 70+ copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

The Navajo Year, Walk Through Many Seasons

For the Navajo people, the new year begins in October, when summer meets winter. The Navajo Year, Walk Through Many Seasons follows the Navajo calendar, and provides poetic descriptions of the many sights, sounds, and activities associated with each month.

In November, there are string games and stores; in April, planting of corn, beans, and squash; and in July, rodeos and monsoon rains. 

 

Follow Coyote through the year, and explore how the Navajos observe the rites and passages of each month.

 

We purchased 70+ copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.
 

Beauty Beside Me, Stories of My Grandmother's Skirts 

Grandmother cooks, weaves, and dances. She herds the sheep, makes cedar beads, and lulls tired grandchildren to sleep. While she does all these things, she wears her beautiful Navajo skirts - velvet skirts of many colors that swish and sway as she moves.Grandmother's life is filled with beauty of the best kind: beauty of kindness, beauty of family, and beauty of love. Her actions are a lesson to all those around her, especially to her bright-eyed and observant granddaughter. By following in the footsteps of her grandmother, the girl discovers the true meaning of beauty and the magic of a simple life well-lived.

We purchased 70 copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Keepers of the Windclaw Chronicles

We purchased three installments of this series: The Mockingbird's Manual (1), The Day of Storms (2), and The Great Gathering (3). 

We purchased 240+ copies from this series from Salina Bookshelf. We bought ~80 of each.

 

Father's Boots

Every winter, the brothers Tall Leo, Big Leo, and Little Leonard go to their Grandmother Sally's hogan for the winter holidays. None of the brothers look foward to the visits: Grandmother Sally always tells long, boring stories about the Holy People. This year, however, is different. Father is away working for the railroad, and he might not be home for the holidays. Felling in a serious mood, the brothers retell one of Grandmother Sally's stories. By sharing the story amongst themselves, the brothers grow closer to one another and come to a deeper understanding of their culture.

We bought 70 copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Becoming Miss Navajo

As a little girl, Jolyana Begay-Kroupa dreamed of becoming Miss Navajo. After years of learning the language, culture, and traditions, her change finally comes to take on the important role. The skills she learned help her in touch competitions but will they be enough to earn her the crown of Miss Navajo? Witness the inspiring true story of what it takes to become Miss Navajo and how the competition is only the beginning. 

We bought 70 copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Her Land, Her Love

Ninaanibaa’s heart belonged to Hashké Yił Naabaah (The Warrior Who Fights with Anger). She loved him for protecting his awéé’ (babies), K’é (kinship), Naabeehó (Navajo people) and Dinétah (land). Hashké Yił Naabaah is summoned on a pursuit to restore peace and harmony to Dinétah. Nínááníbaa’ gently placed her hand over her heart and wondered if her own heart was prepared to never feel love again. She stopped to think about life without love, the kind of love that her husband showered upon her. Leaving their sacred land was a painful decision forced upon them but Hashké Yił Naabaah and Nínááníbaa always relied on their love, prayers, and kinship in overcoming hardship, loneliness, and suffering. Will they escape the shackles of war and reunite with their children within the four sacred mountains of Dinétah?

We bought 85+ copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Her Enemy, Her Love

Volume two in the series by Evangeline Parsons Yazzie
begins at the banks of the Pecos River in Ft Sumner New
Mexico during The Long Walk where, Ninaanibaa and her
husband are reunited with their daughters Deed Yazhi, and
her younger sister Dzanibaa after four years of separation.
In Her Enemy, Her Love the oral history of those years of
captivity continues from the perspective of the two sisters;
a story of family, love, resilience and hope.

We bought 85+ copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Her Captive, Her Love

In volume three the legendary story of one Naabeehó family’s resilience during the Long Walk sweeps to the south to the Rio Grande and eastward across the mountains of Mescalero Apache. Dzánibaa’ is taken from her home on Black Mesa, Arizona (Dziłijiin) then rescued by her kind, young Mescalero Apache man. With her captive, her love at her side she sets out on a journey to Fort Sumner with his Mescalero Apache people. This passionate story weaves together the oral histories of the Black Mesa community and the history of the Naabeehó people.

We bought 85+ copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Their Land, Their Love: The Return Home

Their Land Their Love: The Return Home is the fourth and final volume in the series by Evangeline Parsons-Yazzie. The story begins in Ft. Sumner New Mexico in the spring of 1868 “There is going to be a meeting at the parade grounds. We have our orders to count all the Navajo prisoners. Bring everyone there!” On the parade grounds Naabehó Peace Leaders negotiate the Treaty of 1868 with their captors.

We bought 85+ copies of the book from Salina Bookshelf.

Ashkii's Journey

A twelve-year-old orphan with faraway friends and unkind relatives, Ashkii must depend upon himself for survival. Though Ashkii provdes food for his aunt and cousins, his cruel aunt rewards him for his work with ridicule and scraps from the hunt.

We bought 70+ copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Diné Bizaad Bínáhoo’aah: Rediscovering The Navajo Language

This 448 page textbook provides a verb-based introduction to the Navajo language for college and secondary students. Students are introduced to the Navajo sound system and the Navajo writing system. Clear explanations of vocabulary and grammar provide students with a solid foundation for building communications skills. Through readings, photos and writing exercises, students broaden their knowledge of geography, history and culture.

We bought 50 copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

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Baby Learns About Seasons

In each of the four seasons, Baby participates in activities with different members of her family. For instance, in the summer Baby gathers corn pollen with Grandmother, and goes with Mother to gather ripe peaches. Follow Baby as she learns about the seasons.

We bought 30 copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Baby Learns About Weather

Different types of weather bring different kinds of adventures for Baby. Join Baby and see what she does when the weather changes from sun, rain, and snow.

We bought 30 copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Baby Learns to Count

Baby had begun to count, and now that she knows how, she can't stop! Baby counts everything from the buttons on her shirt to the birds in the sky. 

We bought 30 copies of this book from Salina Bookshelf.

Baby Learns about Time

Today is Baby's birthday, and she has all sorts of fun events planned for differnet tim

 
 

The Team

This fundraiser and book recommendations comes from two Indigenous educators and authors both dedicated to serving their communities with a focus on youth.

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Dr. Joshuaa Allison-Burbank
Developmental Scientist at John Hopkins University

 

Navajo + Acoma Pueblo

Dr. Joshuaa Allison-Burbank (Diné / Acoma Pueblo) is a father of two from Tohatchi, NM on the Navajo Nation. He is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Developmental Scientist at Johns Hopkins University. He is the founder of Little Moccasins Education Services and is a leading mentor of The STEAM Connection where he is helping develop SkoBots, language learning robots for Indigenous youths. His work focuses on culturally responsive teaching practices, parent coaching, and kindergarten readiness. Dr. Allison-Burbank recently co-authored a chapter called American Indian Fathers and their Sacred Children in the recently published book titled ‘Handbook of Fathers and Child Development’ and also contributed to "Our Smallest Warriors, Our Strongest Medicine: Overcoming COVID-19".

Highlights

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Danielle Boyer
Founder & CEO, Youth Robotics Inventor

Ojibwe

Danielle Boyer is a young Indigenous (Ojibwe - Sault Ste Marie Tribe) robotics inventor, author, activist, and advocate for youth who has been teaching kids since she was ten years old. Danielle creates equitable and innovative learning solutions for minority youths with robots that she designs, manufacturers, and gives away for free. In 2019, she created The STEAM Connection, a minority and youth-led charity that has reached hundreds of thousands of children worldwide with technical education. She has been named one of PEOPLE Magazine's Girls Changing the World, a L'oreal Paris Woman of Worth, a MIT Solve Indigenous Communities Fellow, and a Verizon Forward for Good Winner for her invention of biodegradable robotics components. She is currently developing a wearable language learning robot for Indigenous youths named SkoBots and resides in Metro Detroit, MI.

Highlights