100 books like Boarding School Seasons

By Brenda J. Child,

Here are 100 books that Boarding School Seasons fans have personally recommended if you like Boarding School Seasons. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors

Farina King Author Of The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century

From my list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences.

Why am I passionate about this?

My Diné (Navajo) family stories drew me into history including studies of Indigenous experiences in boarding schools. Two of my uncles were Navajo Code Talkers, and I loved asking them about their life stories. My uncle Albert Smith often spoke about his memories of the war. I was struck by the irony that he was sent to a boarding school as a child where the Navajo language was forbidden, and then he later relied on the language to protect his homelands. I then became interested in all my relatives' boarding school stories, including those of my father, which led me to write my first book The Earth Memory Compass about Diné school experiences. 

Farina's book list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences

Farina King Why did Farina love this book?

For this book, Lajimodiere dedicated much time and effort over years to listen and record boarding school experiences of Native Americans, especially in the northern Plains, acknowledging different forms of schools that threatened Native American lives, families, and peoplehood. Her book encapsulates the voices of the survivors who testify of their struggles and those who did not survive the boarding school colonizing machine that sought to control Indigenous youth and their communities.

Lajimodiere epitomizes an activist scholar who has worked to trace as many Indian boarding schools in the United States as possible, and she has been foundational to the development of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition that is spearheading efforts for truth and healing from the adverse impacts and legacies of boarding schools.

By Denise Lajimodiere,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stringing Rosaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Denise Lajimodiere's interest in American Indian boarding school survivors stories evolved from recording her father and other family members speaking of their experiences. Her research helped her to gain insight, a deeper understanding of her parents, and how and why she and her siblings were parented in the way they were. That insight led her to an emotional ceremony of forgiveness, described in the last chapter of Stringing Rosaries.

The journey to record survivors stories led her through the Dakotas and Minnesota and into the personal and private space of boarding school survivors. While there, she heard stories that they…


Book cover of They Called It Prairie Light: The Story of Chilocco Indian School

Farina King Author Of The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century

From my list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences.

Why am I passionate about this?

My Diné (Navajo) family stories drew me into history including studies of Indigenous experiences in boarding schools. Two of my uncles were Navajo Code Talkers, and I loved asking them about their life stories. My uncle Albert Smith often spoke about his memories of the war. I was struck by the irony that he was sent to a boarding school as a child where the Navajo language was forbidden, and then he later relied on the language to protect his homelands. I then became interested in all my relatives' boarding school stories, including those of my father, which led me to write my first book The Earth Memory Compass about Diné school experiences. 

Farina's book list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences

Farina King Why did Farina love this book?

As soon as I read Lomawaima’s They Called it Prairie Light, I knew that I wanted to work with oral history among my Diné relatives and Native American communities to better understand their voices and perspectives of Indian boarding schools. Lomawaima’s book brought together oral histories and stories that she gathered from her father and relationships that she sustained with former boarding school students of the Chilocco Indian School. She offers a platform for boarding school students to tell their own stories; and, most importantly, she exemplified how to do such significant work.

By K. Tsianina Lomawaima,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They Called It Prairie Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Established in 1884 and operative for nearly a century, the Chilocco Indian School in Oklahoma was one of a series of off-reservation boarding schools intended to assimilate American Indian children into mainstream American life. Critics have characterized the schools as destroyers of Indian communities and cultures, but the reality that K. Tsianina Lomawaima discloses was much more complex.

Lomawaima allows the Chilocco students to speak for themselves. In recollections juxtaposed against the official records of racist ideology and repressive practice, students from the 1920s and 1930s recall their loneliness and demoralization but also remember with pride the love and mutual…


Book cover of Education Beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929

Farina King Author Of The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century

From my list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences.

Why am I passionate about this?

My Diné (Navajo) family stories drew me into history including studies of Indigenous experiences in boarding schools. Two of my uncles were Navajo Code Talkers, and I loved asking them about their life stories. My uncle Albert Smith often spoke about his memories of the war. I was struck by the irony that he was sent to a boarding school as a child where the Navajo language was forbidden, and then he later relied on the language to protect his homelands. I then became interested in all my relatives' boarding school stories, including those of my father, which led me to write my first book The Earth Memory Compass about Diné school experiences. 

Farina's book list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences

Farina King Why did Farina love this book?

Gilbert worked closely with his Hopi people and nation on this book, and he demonstrates how a book can take different forms such as a documentary film, blog, and other more publicly accessible projects. In his book, Gilbert shows how to apply Indigenous methodologies and intellectual processes to understand Indigenous perspectives of boarding schools. He contextualizes Indian boarding school experiences as part of larger historical dynamics and a sense of being for Hopi who have faced and navigated challenges of colonialism for generations.

By Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Education Beyond the Mesas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Education beyond the Mesas is the fascinating story of how generations of Hopi schoolchildren from northeastern Arizona "turned the power" by using compulsory federal education to affirm their way of life and better their community. Sherman Institute in Riverside, California, one of the largest off-reservation boarding schools in the United States, followed other federally funded boarding schools of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in promoting the assimilation of indigenous people into mainstream America. Many Hopi schoolchildren, deeply conversant in Hopi values and traditional education before being sent to Sherman Institute, resisted this program of acculturation. Immersed in learning…


Book cover of Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928

Farina King Author Of The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century

From my list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences.

Why am I passionate about this?

My Diné (Navajo) family stories drew me into history including studies of Indigenous experiences in boarding schools. Two of my uncles were Navajo Code Talkers, and I loved asking them about their life stories. My uncle Albert Smith often spoke about his memories of the war. I was struck by the irony that he was sent to a boarding school as a child where the Navajo language was forbidden, and then he later relied on the language to protect his homelands. I then became interested in all my relatives' boarding school stories, including those of my father, which led me to write my first book The Earth Memory Compass about Diné school experiences. 

Farina's book list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences

Farina King Why did Farina love this book?

Adams’s book exposed the Indian boarding school agenda and system as genocide for many readers. His book was one of the first publications that I read about Indian boarding schools as it represents a significant historiographical shift and approach to Indigenous experiences in boarding schools since the first writings of Native American boarding school students such as Zitkála-Šá, Charles Eastman, and Luther Standing Bear. The revised edition of his book could not have come at a better time with the announcement of the Federal Indian Boarding School Truth Initiative that followed about a year later in June 2021.

By David Wallace Adams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Education for Extinction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The last 'Indian War' was fought against Native American children in the dormitories and classrooms of government boarding schools. Only by removing Indian children from their homes for extended periods of time, policymakers reasoned, could white "civilization" take root while childhood memories of 'savagism' gradually faded to the point of extinction. In the words of one official: 'Kill the Indian and save the man.'

This fully revised edition of Education for Extinction offers the only comprehensive account of this dispiriting effort, and incorporates the last twenty-five years of scholarship. Much more than a study of federal Indian policy, this book…


Book cover of I Am Not a Number

Nhung N. Tran-Davies Author Of Ten Cents a Pound

From my list on to spark conversations between generations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author, physician, mother of three, and an advocate for social justice in education. I came to Canada as a refugee from the Vietnam war when I was a young child. I love to write children's stories that convey the humanity in our lives. My books have been shortlisted for the Alberta Literary Award, Red Maple Award, and Blue Spruce Award.

Nhung's book list on to spark conversations between generations

Nhung N. Tran-Davies Why did Nhung love this book?

We as a nation and society are on the road to truth and reconciliation. Critical to that journey are stories such as I Am Not a Number. The book tells the heartbreaking story of Irene, the author’s grandmother, and her brothers who were taken away from their home on Nipissing First Nation to live at a residential school, very far from home. At the school, names are not used. All students are known by numbers. This story will inspire important conversations that will help younger generations understand the horrors so many indigenous children endured in the residential schools. It is a dark part of our history, kept secret by past generations, that is only now coming to light through these powerful stories.

By Jenny Kay Dupuis, Kathy Kacer, Gillian Newland (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Not a Number as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene's parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when…


Book cover of When We Were Alone

Mary Shaw Author Of Basil's Unkie Herb

From my list on I wish I could have read to my children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I really am passionate about children and education. Reading to children is such a joy especially when they snuggle in and get absorbed in the story. Education is the only way to achieve some sort of equity in our world. The world I knew as a child is no more and that is a good thing. Cruel biases and intolerance hurt so many. Today there is more freedom and the potential to live true to yourself whatever that may be. I like books that show the diversity of our humanity, that can be read to children to broaden their understanding, acceptance, and tolerance of family which may be very different from their own.

Mary's book list on I wish I could have read to my children

Mary Shaw Why did Mary love this book?

This book is a conversation between a grandchild and their grandma who is a residential school survivor. With childlike simplicity, grandma explains why her colourful clothes, long hair, and treasured time with her brother are a reaction to being taken “from community” and being sent “far far away”. Grandma talks about students forced to wear uniforms, cut their hair, forbidden from speaking Cree, and separation from her brother.

This is a book I would probably have steered clear of “not wanting to frighten my children” when I was parenting, David Roberson does a masterful job of gently laying out facts without explanation or accusation. The book opens the door to further questions and conversations that have to be had but are very difficult to start. This is a great start.

By David A. Robertson, Julie Flett (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When We Were Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

A young girl notices things about her grandmother that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully coloured clothing? Why does she speak Cree and spend so much time with her family? As she asks questions, her grandmother shares her experiences in a residential school, when all of these things were taken away.

Also available in a bilingual Swampy Cree/English edition.

When We Were Alone won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award in the Young People's Literature (Illustrated Books) category, and was nominated for the TD Canadian's Children's Literature Award.


Book cover of Lakota Dreaming

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy Author Of Tall, Dark, and Cherokee

From my list on Native American romantic suspense.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a lifelong history lover. I was the kid who hung around the feet of the elders, listening to their stories and learning about the past. That led to a deep interest in tracing family history, which has been a passion since about the age of ten. I still can get lost for hours finding ancestors or reading about their lives. That interest led me to a double major in college and I earned a Bachelor of Arts in both history and English with a two-year degree in journalism. I live a short distance from Oklahoma and one of my favorite pastimes is to go to powwows whenever possible.

Lee's book list on Native American romantic suspense

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy Why did Lee love this book?

This book blends the past with the present and takes the heroine Zora Hughes from New York City to South Dakota where she and John Iron Hawk. The story combines history with mystery and romance with suspense in an engaging way that kept me turning the pages to see what happened next.

By Constance Gillam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lakota Dreaming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Her visions brought her here. Her heart tells her to stay. But someone dangerous wants her gone…

Zora Hughes is haunted by someone else’s past. Plagued by dreams of her ancestor fleeing captivity, the former NYC fashion editor travels to South Dakota to uncover the truth. And until she can put her visions to rest, she won’t let anyone stand in her way… not even the handsome captain of the local tribal police.

John Iron Hawk is on a mission to clean up his reservation. Trying to raise a teenage daughter on his own while working to expose a corrupt…


Book cover of Winter Counts

Tori Eldridge Author Of The Ninja Daughter

From my list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a multicultural author, born in Honolulu of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent, I am drawn to mainstream thrillers that feature diverse characters and explore non-mainstream cultures. Since I also hold a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninja martial arts and have traveled the United States teaching martial arts and empowerment, authentic fight scenes in fiction are a must! Nothing turns me off quicker than a shallow representation of culturally diverse characters or mundane and improbable action. I strive for authenticity, emotion, and page-turning action in my Lily Wong ninja thrillers, so it’s probably no surprise that I value these elements in the novels I read.

Tori's book list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity

Tori Eldridge Why did Tori love this book?

Wanbli Weiden pulls no punches in his vivid, often brutal mystery thriller set on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation. His enforcer protagonist Virgil Wounded struggles with his own heritage and history while fighting to protect his nephew and Lakota community. I appreciated the stark brutality of the fight scenes. I was deeply moved by the raw emotion, depth of characters, and struggles that still exist for Indian Nations today.

By David Heska Wanbli Weiden,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Winter Counts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ANTHONY AWARD WINNER FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL

THRILLER AWARD WINNER FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL

EDGAR AWARD NOMINEE FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL

“Winter Counts is a marvel. It’s a thriller with a beating heart and jagged teeth.”  —Tommy Orange, author of There There

A Best Book of 2020: NPR * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal * CrimeReads * Goodreads * Sun Sentinel * SheReads * MysteryPeople 

 A groundbreaking thriller about a vigilante on a Native American reservation who embarks on a dangerous mission to track down the source of a heroin influx. 

Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the…


Book cover of Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law

Stephen L. Pevar Author Of The Rights of Indians and Tribes

From my list on rights of Indian tribes and their members.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1971, when I graduated from law school, I received a fellowship to help staff a Legal Aid office on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I lived there for nearly four years, representing tribal members in tribal, state, and federal courts. I then worked for 45 years on the National Legal Staff of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). One of my major responsibilities was helping Indian tribes and their members protect and enforce their rights, and I filed numerous cases on their behalf. During that time, I taught Federal Indian Law for more than 20 years and also published The Rights of Indians and Tribes. 

Stephen's book list on rights of Indian tribes and their members

Stephen L. Pevar Why did Stephen love this book?

This book is the “bible” of Federal Indian Law. Mr. Cohen was appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and was the first pro-Native Commissioner to hold that post. He took it upon himself and his agency to publish a treatise that Indian tribes and others could rely on to learn about treaties, statutes, and agreements that set forth the rights of Indian tribes and their members.

It’s been updated several times. It is the most authoritative text in the field and is frequently cited by courts and commentators. It doesn’t lend itself to easy reading, however. (My book synthesizes the information contained in the Cohen book and makes it understandable to the non-lawyer.)

By Felix S Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law is an encyclopedic treatise written by experts in the field, and provides general overviews to relevant information as well as in-depth study of specific areas within this complex area of federal law. This is an updated and revised edition of what has been referred to as the ""bible"" of federal Indian law. This publication focuses on the relationship between tribes, the states and the federal government within the context of civil and criminal jurisdiction, as well as areas of resource management and government structure. The 2012 Edition of Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law…


Book cover of You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir

Leslie Larson Author Of Breaking Out of Bedlam

From my list on the power of family secrets.

Why am I passionate about this?

As I child I wanted to know the information that was withheld from me. What were the adults whispering about? What were they hiding? Secrets, things that are hidden, have a way of shaping the lives around them, a dark space that exerts a presence, even though it isn’t seen. I thought if I found out the secret, maybe my family, and the world, would make sense. Breaking Out of Bedlam is my version of my grandmother’s story, based on the whispers I heard and a few faint clues—a newspaper clipping, a Bible, and a baby’s sock. More than that, it’s an explanation for the silence in my family, for my grandmother’s bitterness, her drug abuse, and depression.

Leslie's book list on the power of family secrets

Leslie Larson Why did Leslie love this book?

Sherman Alexie gives it everything he’s got in this sprawling, messy, brilliant memoir. Using his mother’s funeral as a jumping-off point, he investigates her chaotic life in an effort to understand the enigma of her personality and the nature of his complicated relationship with her. The contradictions he uncovers, the bits and pieces of information he’s able to glean, and the incongruities in the stories he discovers are stitched together in a narrative he likens to a patchwork quilt: disparate parts brought together that somehow make a whole.

I love the rawness of this memoir, the humor, the mixed genres, and especially the way that Alexie doesn’t spare himself in his examination of how things turned out as they did. He emerges as a not altogether likable player in the vast tragic comedy of his family. In unraveling his relationship with his mother, he uncovers his own demons, the secrets…

By Sherman Alexie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Don't Have to Say You Love Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A searing, deeply moving memoir about family, love, loss, and forgiveness from the critically acclaimed, bestselling National Book Award-winning author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Family relationships are never simple. But Sherman Alexie's bond with his mother Lillian was more complex than most. She plunged her family into chaos with a drinking habit, but shed her addiction when it was on the brink of costing her everything. She survived a violent past, but created an elaborate facade to hide the truth. She selflessly cared for strangers, but was often incapable of showering her children with the…


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Interested in the American Indian boarding schools, American Indians, and South Dakota?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the American Indian boarding schools, American Indians, and South Dakota.

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