Today I want to share some fantastic children's books by Indigenous authors. This is not an exhaustive list, these are the books that we have and love. All of these are educational but you can see that these books are so much more, many have significant cultural value.
If you live outside of Australia these are fantastic books use to learn about Australia and what could be better than supporting Indigenous authors.
Welcome To Country by Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kenndey - board book (pictured above). An Aboriginal ceremony of Welcome to Country is depicted for the first time in a beautiful board book from two Indigenous Australians. Each community has its own way of greeting, but the practice shares a common name: a Welcome to Country.
This is a warm, welcoming, and informative depiction of the history and traditions of the Wurundjeri people (traditional owners of the land and part surrounds of Melbourne). This is a significant and culturally relevant book that I hope that all Australian children are able to read. I read this to my toddler but it is perhaps best for children 4-5 years+. It is in English and there are a couple of paragraphs and a few words in the traditional language of the Wurundjeri people. This is so useful in explaining the meaning and process of a Welcome to Country.Aussie Toddlers Can... by Magabala Books. This is a small board book, perfect for toddler hands (it's 13.8x15 cms). I deeply regret not using and sharing this (also Australian Babies and Aussie Twos Like To..) earlier. It is a short book featuring toddlers doing everyday things like eating, drinking, playing the drums, and dancing. There is a mirror on the last page so the child can see their own face. This is our only book featuring the faces of young Indigenous Australians. If you operate a toddler class or playgroup in Australia please have a look at this and this series of books.
I could not love the work of Bronwyn Bancroft more, I love all of her books (US link to her books here). Her books are so extremely rich in boldness, in colour, and in language. Strikingly beautiful. If you only have one book by an Australian artist, make it by Bronwyn Bancroft, you will not be disappointed!!! Kangaroo and Crocodile: My Big Book of Australian Animals is a wonderful children's book about Australian animals. This is a picture book there is no story, it is substantial though, 47 animals are illustrated from the well-known Koalas and Kangaroos to lesser-known animals like the Numbat. There is a brief description of each animal in the back of the book. This would be a lovely book to have in the classroom in Australia and beyond. This is a large (26 x 31cms) and impactful book.
Patterns of Australia is also by Bronwyn Bancroft. Other books in the series include Colours of Australia and Shapes of Australia. This is a fun 'look and find' book. Each double-page depicts a scene and then lists things to find in the scene. For example in the Patterns of the Sky you can look for a Cockatoo, Galah, Kite, King Parrot, Dragonfly, Butterfly and more. There are patterns for the the Sky, Bush, Night, Desert, Wildflowers, River, Wetlands, Rainforest, Ocean, and Reef. The book is designed to give children and adults an opportunity to see the Australian environment in a new way, as they discover that there is so much more to see around us if we only look!
Big Rain Coming by Katrina Germein, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft. We have been experiencing a lot of rain over the past month so this has been a fun story for us. It is about a community waiting for rain. Perhaps unintentionally this also helps young children to learn about the days of the week, the story starts on a Sunday and the rain arrives on Saturday. The story includes activities like sleeping outside, swimming in the billabong, dogs digging holes to keep cool, and frogs huddling around the leaky rain-water tank for water. It's also a story about waiting, about anticipation and the celebration of rain when it arrives.
Can You Dance? by Sally Morgan (not pictured) - This is a toddler-sized board book that encourages young children to get up and move like the depicted animals. Children can flap their arms like a magpie's wings, stomp their feet like a cheeky wombat, and dance like a silly lizard, along with the actions of five other animals.
The Rainbow by Ros Moriarty. Ros Moriarty is another leading Indigenous artist. Similar books include Bush Tracks, Splosh for the Billabong, Summer Rain, and Ten Scared Fish. The Rainbow is a colour book but using natural colours of the sun, earth, sky, and water. The colours and illustrations are the focus. The colours are beautiful and are beyond what you see in the usual toddler colour book. The words throughout the book are in English but there is a translation towards the back in Yanyuwa language (spoken by Aboriginal families in Borroloola, Northern Territory).