The first AILA American Indian Youth Literature Awards were presented during the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in 2006. Awarded biennially, the AIYLA identifies and honors the very best writing and illustrations by Native Americans and Indigenous peoples of North America. Books selected to receive the award present Indigenous North American peoples in the fullness of their humanity. In odd-numbered years, nominations are encouraged in fiction or nonfiction and may include graphic novels; for picture books, the award is for both author and illustrator. Awards are granted in even-numbered years. Authors/illustrators may win the American Indian Youth Literature Award in the categories Best Picture Book, Best Middle Grade Book, and Best Young Adult Book. In addition, up to five awards may be selected as Honors books in each category.


Picture Book Herizon

Winners, Picture Book, 2022

Middle School Healer of the Water Monster

Winners, Middle School, 2022

Young Adult Apple Skin to the Core

Winners, Young Adult, 2022

Honor Books
Picture Book Learning My Rights with Mousewoman

Honor Book, Picture Book, 2022

Picture Book Becoming Miss Navajo

Honor Book, Picture Book, 2022

Picture Book I Sang You Down From the Stars

Honor Book, Picture Book, 2022

Middle School Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Honor Book, Middle Grade, 2022

Middle School The Sea in Winter

Honor Book, Middle School, 2022

Young Adult Firekeeper’s Daughter

Honor Book, Young Adult, 2022

Young Adult Elatsoe

Honor Book, Young Adult, 2022

Young Adult Hunting by Stars

Honor Book, Young Adult, 2022

Young Adult Soldiers Unknown

Honor Book, Young Adult, 2022


Picture Book Bowwow Powwow: Bagosenjige-niimi’idim

Bowwow Powwow: Bagosenjige-niimi’idim Written by Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe) Translated into Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain (Lac La Croix First Nation) Illustrated by Jonathan Thunder (Red Lake Ojibwe) Published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2018 http://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/bowwow-powwow

Middle School Indian No More

Indian No More Written by Charlene Willing McManis (Umpqua/Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde) with Traci Sorell (Cherokee) cover art by Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan, Muscogee Creek) Published by Tu Books / Lee & Low, 2019

Young Adult Hearts Unbroken

written by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee) Published by Candlewick Press, 2018

Honor Books
Picture Book Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Written by Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole Nation, Mekusukey Band) Illustrated by Juana Martínez-Neal (Peruvian-American) Published by Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan, 2019

Picture Book Birdsong

Written and illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis) Published by Greystone Kids, 2019

Picture Book At the Mountain’s Base

Written by Traci Sorell (Cherokee) Illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre (Tongva/Scots-Gaelic) Published by Kokila / Penguin Random House, 2019.

Picture Book Raven Makes the Aleutians

Adapted from a traditional Tlingit story Illustrated by Janine Gibbons (Haida, Raven of the Double-Finned Killer Whale clan, Brown Bear House) Published by Sealaska Heritage, 2018

Picture Book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Written by Traci Sorell (Cherokee) Illustrated by Frané Lessac Published by Charlesbridge, 2018

Middle School I Can Make This Promise

Written by Christine Day (Upper Skagit) Cover art by Michaela Goade (Tlingit, Kiks.ádi clan, Steel House) Published by Harper Collins, 2019.

Middle School The Grizzley Mother

The Grizzly Mother, written by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (“Bret D. Huson,” Gitxsan), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis Nation of British Columbia), and published by Highwater Press.

Young Adult Surviving the City

Written by Tasha Spillet (Nehiyaw-Trinidadian) Illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis Nation of British Columbia) Published by Highwater Press, 2018

Young Adult Apple In The Middle

Written by Dawn Quigley (Ojibwe, Turtle Mountain Band) Published by North Dakota State University Press, 2018

Young Adult An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People

Written by Debbie Reese (Nambé Owingeh) and Jean Mendoza Adapted from the adult book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Published by Beacon Press, 2019.

Young Adult Reawakening Our Ancestors’ Lines: Revitalizing Inuit Traditional Tattooing

Gathered and compiled by Angela Hovak Johnston (Inuk), Photography by Cora De Vos (Inuk) Published by Inhabit Media, 2017


Picture Book Shanyaak'utlaax: Salmon Boy (2017)

Published by Sealaska Heritage Institute Illustrated by Tlingit artist Michaela Goade, and edited by Tlingit speakers

Middle School Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers, Volume 1 (2016)

Edited by Arigon Starr (Kickapoo) Various contributors Native Realities

Young Adult #Not Your Princess: Voices of Native American Women (2017)

Edited by Lisa Charleyboy (Tsilhqot’in) and Mary Beth Leatherdale Annick Press

Honor Books
Picture Book All Around Us (2017)

Written by Xelena González (Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation) Illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia Cinco Puntos Press

Picture Book Black Bear Red Fox (2017)

Written and illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree/Métis) Native Northwest

Picture Book Fall in Line, Holden! (2017)

Written and illustrated by Daniel W. Vandever (Diné) Salina Bookshelf, Inc.

Picture Book I'm Dreaming of...Animals of the Native Northwest (2017)

Written by Melaney Gleeson-Lyall (Musqueam, Coast Salish) Illustrated by First Nations artists Native Northwest

Picture Book Mission to Space (2016)

Written and illustrated by John Herrington (Chickasaw) White Dog Press

Middle School The Wool of Jonesy, Part 1 (2016)

Written and illustrated by Jonathan Nelson (Diné) Native Realities

Young Adult Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology (2016)

Various Authors (Anishinaabe) edited by Hope Nicholson Bedside Press

Young Adult Marrow Thieves (2017)

Written by Cherie Dimaline (Métis) DCB (submitted by Orca Books)

2018 Fire Starters (2016)

Written by Jen Storm (Ojibway) Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson and colorist Donovan Yaciuk HighWater Press


Picture Book Little You

Richard Van Camp, author Julie Flett, illustrator Orca Book Publishers, 2013

Middle School In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

Joseph Marshall III, author Amulet Books, 2015

Young Adult House of Purple Cedar

Tim Tingle, author Cinco Puntos Press, 2013

Honor Books
Picture Book Sitting Bull Lakota Warrior And Defender of his People

S.D. Nelson, author Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015

Middle School Dreaming in Indian Contemporary Native Voices

Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale Annick Press, 2014

Young Adult Her Land, Her Love

Evangeline Parsons Yazzie Salina Bookshelf Inc., 2016


Picture Book Caribou Song, Atihko Oonagamoon

by Tomson Highway, John Rombough (illustrator) Fifth House, 2012

Middle School How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story

by Tim Tingle The Roadrunner Press, 2013

Young Adult Killer of Enemies

by Joseph Bruchac Tu Books, 2013

Honor Books
Middle School Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner

by Tim Tingle 7th Generation, 2013

Young Adult If I Ever Get Out of Here

by Eric Gansworth Arthur A. Levin Books, 2013


Picture Book The Christmas Coat

by Virgina Driving Hawk Sneve, Ellen Beier(Illustrator)

Honor Books
Picture Book Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light

by Tim Tingle, Karen Clarkson(Illustrator)

Picture Book Kohala Kuamo’o: Nae’ole’s Race to save a King

by Kekauleleana’ole Kawai’ae’a, Aaron Kawai’ae’a (Illustrator) story by Walter and Luana Kawai’ae’a

Picture Book Mohala Mai ‘O Hau = How Hau Became Hau’ula

by Robert Lono ‘Ikuwa pictures by Matthew Kawika Ortiz

Picture Book I See Me

by Margaret Manuel

Middle School Native Defenders of the Environment

and other titles in the “Native Trailblazers series by Victor Schilling


Picture Book Beaver Steals Fire: A Salish Coyote Story

by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes(Illustrator)

Young Adult Hidden Roots

by Joseph Bruchac