The Native Fund provides resources for Native/First Nations writers, illustrators, educators, and students.
Only 1.1% of children’s books published in the United States today depict characters from American Indian and First Nation populations, according to statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. When kids open books, what do they find? Few, if any depictions of Indigenous people. That sends the message to Native kids that they don’t belong in the world of books and to non-Native kids that Native people don’t matter.
To address this issue head on, WNDB created the Native Fund. This initiative aims not only to give Native books to Native students, but to support Native creatives and educators as well.
Our goals include:
- Supporting Native writers and illustrators by providing grants, mentorship, workshops, and community building.
- Donating books written by Native authors to schools and libraries that serve Native communities. These books will positively and authentically reflect the diversity of Native people.
- Providing educators with resources on how to utilize Native books in their curricula, via a website dedicated to Native children’s and teen literature.
Native Fund Chair
Leslie Widener is an author and illustrator of books and stories for children. She has illustrated six Choctaw-related picture books, including Chukfi Rabbit’s Big, Bad Bellyache; The Turkey Who Liked to Show Off; Why the Turtle Has Cracks on His Back, and others.
A member of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Lesie lives in McKinney, Texas with her husband and artist Terry Widener.