NITV looks at 10 books for kids that will awaken their imaginations as they learn.
Andrea Booth

17 Apr 2015 - 10:00 AM  UPDATED 15 Mar 2016 - 2:28 PM

1. The Legends of Moonie Jarl - Butchulla siblings Moonie Jarl (Wilf Reeves) and Wandi (Olga Miller)

The first Aboriginal children’s book to be published in Australia (1964) tells us about the Butchulla people from Fraser Island and the Fraser Coast, Queensland.

It tells about them through 12 traditional legends that tell why the bat hangs upside down, how the wallaby got her pouch and how the swan got its long neck.

The late Butchulla siblings, who wrote and designed this book, give readers a deep insight into Butchulla culture.

2. Stradbroke Dreamtime - Oodgeroo Noonuccal

This book, published in 1972, contains 27 short stories about culture on Stradbroke Island and the Tambourine Mountains.

Oodgeroo was not afraid to delve into some of the issues confronting Indigenous Australians, such as inequality, in her tales. This book shows how Aboriginal culture is not something of the past but ever evolving.

3. Rainbow Serpent - Dick Roughsey and Elsie Roughsey

The dreamtime story of the Rainbow Serpent was appropriated into a picture book that continues to be read by children across Australia since its publication in 1976.

It tells of the rainbow serpent who created mountains from beneath the ground and which depicts the snake-like shapes of rivers across the country and the colors that reflect from sun light shining upon the water.

4. The Naked Boy and the Crocodile - Andy Griffiths

This book is a compilation of stories written by children aged between five and 10 years who live in remote communities across Australia. 

They tell about an aspect of their own lives, whether through the medium of fantasy or realism in both words and pictures – thinking hunting for emu eggs and adventures with friends. The children come from remote communities ranging from Wyndham in Western Australia to Wilcannia in north-west New South Wales.

5. Bangs 2 Jurrukuk - Students from Tiwi College

Bangs is an owl from the city that has no wings. Bangs is used to being bullied but he sets out to become a warrior with the Tiwi Spirit by his side. Along the way he learns about love and courage and the concept of “one people”. This book was written by senior girls from Tiwi Islands at a writing workshop to share the culture of Tiwi.

"I felt proud and happy that our class did something very special for ourselves and representing our school" said Natalie, author and student at Tiwi College.

It was published in 2013.

6. Alfie’s Big Wish - David Hardy

Alfie, a young boy, is lonely after his friends leave with their parents. Just before he goes to sleep Alfie makes a big wish on a star to have a companion who knows and loves him for who he is – can it come true? David Hardy is a Barkindji man who previously worked with Disney.


7. My Lost Mob - Venetia Tyson

An emu has lost his mob and crosses lots of country to find his way where he meets many native marsupials and animals along the way.

Venetia Tyson is a Qandamooka woman from North Stradbroke Island region. Published in 2015.

8. Wandihnu and the Old Dugong - Elizabeth and Wandihnu Wymarra

Wandihnu grows up in the city but it is time for her to get back to her country on Badu Island in the west of the Torres Strait for her to learn her language and culture. 

The night before she sets upon her journey she drifts into a dream where she meets a dugong. This book was published in 2007.

9. Ready for School - Wilcannia community

The Paakantji students of Wilcannia School in New South Wales wrote and illustrated a picture book, Ready for School, published in 2014, that works to encourage children to go to school after Paakantji parents in the Wicannia community expressed concern that their children were not ready for Western schooling when they reached the standard age for schooling in Australia.

Paakantji children had great knowledge of their own language and culture, but not of English culture.

This project, in consultation with Paakantji community members and the Paakantji Language Circle, aims to empower Paakantji parents to get their children to school.

10. Yirara Mix Book - Yirara community

The Yirara Mix Book has been written and illustrated by 80 students and teachers of Yirara College and Yirara community members in Alice Springs during storytelling workshops with Indigenous writers Ali Cobby-Eckermann, Lionel Fogarty and Lorna Munro.

This book is a collection of stories and poems about tales that range from journeys through desert bushland to family and dream time stories. 

It was published in March 2015 and gifted to the community by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.