Nibi's Water Song Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
PreK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Native Americans
Water Quality
by Sunshine Tenasco - A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to learn about the need for clean water and the importance of speaking up.

Nibi, whose name means water, does not have clean water at her house for drinking and bathing. Through her persistence and sense of fairness, she is able to gather a group of people who join her voice and work to get clean water for her house. This is a story about small positive actions that bring about change. Nibi's infectious positivity and sense of what is right will inspire young people to speak up when they see injustice. The author of the book lives in an indigenous community that hasn't had clean water for 15 years. This book is part of her advocacy. 

Before Reading

Ask: What are some of the sources of water in our community? Name the lakes, rivers, and places to find clean drinking water. Talk about how we use water every day. What if it wasn't clean? Maybe some of it isn't clean.

Show: Watch this video about a community in northern Canada that doesn't have clean water, and the 12-year-old girl, Autumn Peltier, who asked for help.

Connect: Not everybody has clean water in their tap. Maybe you don't have clean water. We're going to read about a girl who needs clean water and find out how she gets it. 

During Reading

Ask: Why do you think Nibi's water is brown?

Show: Look at the page on which the person from the next town gave her a bottle of water. Why isn't that enough help?

Connect: We all have a voice and a heart for speaking for what is right. What can one person do when they are surrounded by many people? 

After Reading

Ask: What do you think the people who came together actually did? The book doesn't say clearly how they got clean water for Nibi.

Show: Read the pages at the back of the book and talk about how you can be part of the solution. Read more about clean water and what you can do.

Connect: Nibi kept knocking at the doors of people who can help. She kept asking until she wasn't alone. Who are the people around you who will listen when you describe what is needed? 


  1. Watch this video to learn about another activist, Mari Copeny, is fighting for clean water in Flint, Michigan.
  2. Conduct research to learn where people today do not have clean drinking water. Write some facts on a poster or on social media and ask for help.
  3. Find out how a water filter works. Draw a diagram of the process. 
  4. Find out what pollutes drinking water in places near you and across the world. Tell other people about it. 
  5. Write a poem or song about water or put Nibi's song to music.