We Are Water Protectors

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
We Are Water Protectors Book Poster Image
Powerful words, vibrant images inspire care for the earth.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows how oil pipelines impact the natural resources and heritage of Indigenous populations.

Positive Messages

We are all caretakers of the earth, and have a responsibility to protect and fight for what's right. There is power in unity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Elders share importance of caring for community and protecting both ancestors and future generations.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Crole Lindstrom's We Are Water Protectors won the 2021 Caldecott Medal. Lindstrom is Anishinabe/Metis and a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians. Her picture book is a powerful, uplifting call for environmental stewardship that protects both Native American and First Nation peoples' heritage and global health. It's gorgeously illustrated by Michaela Goade, who's from the Raven moiety and Kiks.ádi clan from Sitka, Alaska. Her images first focus on an Indigenous child's local community, and later include all skin tones: The water flows beyond their land, so the damage caused by the "black snake" of the oil pipeline threatens everyone. The child's anger about the threat to Indigenous land is softened for younger readers by the positive focus on community power and action. At the end of the book, there's a glossary, notes from the author and illustrator, and a Water Protector pledge.

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What's the story?

In WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS, one Indigenous child tells the story of water's importance to the past, present, and future of her people and to the entire planet. Beginning with her community's fight to stop the "black snake" of an oil pipeline that threatens the water that is the source of their life and history, the story widens to show one river's impact on the world. Water flows throughout the earth, connecting everyone and everything, and we have a duty to protect it from harm.

Is it any good?

Simple, powerful words and vibrant images take urgency of the protest movements on Indigenous land across North America and pour that energy onto the pages of this beautiful, inspiring book. We Are Water Protectors reminds all communities that "we are stewards of the Earth," calling us to stand strong and protect it. The commanding language of advocacy is softened by the soft, flowing images and the blue, earthy colors. The author (a Native American from Nebraska who lives in Maryland) and illustrator (a Native American in Alaska) include notes to the reader, and the Water Protector pledge helps remind young readers that they have a role to play, too.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what's important to protect in their own communities, like the people who are keeping water safe from the "black snake" in We Are Water Protectors.

  • Where does the water to your home come from? Do you know where it goes when it leaves your home?

  • How do you feel when the child talks about what water means to her?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love books about Native Americans and the environment

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