Welcome to ECA’s Reconciliation Story Time Collection
Early Childhood Australia (ECA) is pleased to introduce the Reconciliation Story Time Collection—a selection of beautiful, engaging and thought-provoking picture books created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and illustrators for young audiences.
A key intended outcome of curating this collection is for all Australian children to hear Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and illustrators.
Underpinning this outcome are the following goals:
- broadening awareness and reach of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and illustrators
- supporting educators and families to select, share and read children’s books containing stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and illustrators.
The collection is by no means a complete or exhaustive of list of valuable children’s books by Indigenous Australians. Please join in the conversation and share your favourite with us on The Spoke.
At the Beach I See (Young Art series)
Author and illustrator: Kamsani Bin Salleh
Publisher, Date: Magabala Books, 2017
Kamsani Bin Salleh is descended from the Nimunburr, Bunuba and Yawuru peoples of the Kimberley, and the Ballardong Noongar people of the Perth region in Western Australia.
This delightful book will mesmerise young children and older readers alike. The black linework and colourful wash backgrounds work beautifully with the lyrical text. Together they introduce extraordinary creatures and birds that we can discover and observe around the Australian coastline. ‘Dancing jellyfish’, ‘scuttling crabs’, ‘scattered shells’, ‘drifting seaweed’ and ‘waving coral’ evoke the wonder of our beaches and the treasures to be found.
In the City I See (Young Art series)
Author and illustrator: Tori-Jay Mordey
Publisher, Date: Magabala Books, 2018
Tori-Jay Mordey was born on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait and is descended from the Meriam and Maluyigal peoples.
In this delightful board book, Tori-Jay Mordey’s bold illustrations bring the city to life in all its colourful glory—from the built environment of tall buildings and big signs, to the moving panorama of long buses. With a fresh and youthful eye, Tori-Jay captures the quirky gait of walking dogs and a jittery assembly of hungry pigeons as they share the streets with happy buskers and lots of people!
In the City I See is also a gentle snapshot of how our Indigenous culture is reflected in our cities. It will become a valuable and loved addition to book collections for children in rural, regional and urban areas.
Emus Under the Bed
Author and illustrator: Leann J. Edwards
Publisher, Date: Allen & Unwin, 2014
Leann Edwards is descended from the Mara/Marra people of the Roper River (Gulf of Carpentaria) and the Wiradjuri people of central New South Wales.
Beautifully illustrated, this is a lively and unique story about a little girl and the fun she has at her Auntie Dollo’s house. It is a vibrant book that shares the importance of connecting with culture and family.
On Saturdays I visit Auntie Dollo.
‘What would you like to do today?’ she says. ‘Do you want to help me make some feather flowers?’
This book was produced through the Emerging Indigenous Picture Book Mentoring Project, a joint initiative between The Little Big Book Club and Allen & Unwin, assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council.
Author and illustrator: Helen Milroy
Publisher, Date: Fremantle Press, 2021
Helen Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
From beautiful butterflies to kaleidoscopic Christmas beetles, Helen Milroy explores the backyard in this picture book designed to teach children all about the scurrying, scuttling, scooting, buzzing, zooming splendour of insects.
On the Way to Nana’s
Authors: Frances Haji-Ali and Lindsay Haji Ali
Illustrator: David Hardy
Publisher, Date: Magabala Books, 2017
Lindsay Haji-Ali is a descendant of the Yawuru/Karajarri people of the West Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Frances Haji-Ali is a non-Indigenous collaborator.
David Hardy is an Indigenous artist.
Frances and Lindsay Haji-Ali take us counting backwards from 15 to 1 on this spectacular journey in the far north of WA. When Frances and Lindsay lived with their family in Broome, they often set out to visit Nana in the tiny outback town of Wyndham, over 1000 km away. These road trips took them across the magnificent Kimberley landscape and inspired this counting story. From bulbous boabs and wild brumbies to weary travellers, flying magpie geese and flowing waterfalls, David Hardy’s striking illustrations capture the awe and excitement of this special family adventure.
Shapes of Australia
Author and illustrator: Bronwyn Bancroft
Publisher, Date: Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing, 2018
Bronwyn Bancroft is a descendant of the Djanbun people of the Bundjalung nation, which extends across the far north-east coast of New South Wales and the south-east coast of Queensland.
From boulders to beehives, from mountains to coral, this beautifully illustrated book explores the shapes that form our land and introduces readers to ways of thinking about how shapes are represented in nature.
Cooee Mittigar: A Story on Darug Songlines
Authors: Jasmine Seymour and Leanne Mulgo Watson
Illustrator: Leanne Mulgo Watson
Publisher, Date: Magabala Books, 2019
Jasmine Seymour is a Darug woman and descendant of Maria Lock, who was the daughter of Yarramundi, the Boorooberongal Elder who met Governor Phillip on the banks of the Hawkesbury River (Sydney region, New South Wales) in 1791.
Leanne Mulgo Watson is a Darug artist–educator and is the daughter of Aunty Edna Watson.
Cooee Mittigar, meaning ‘come here friend’, is an invitation to yana (walk) on Darug Country. This stunning picture book introduces children and adults alike to Darug Nura (Country) and language.
Greeted by Mulgo, the black swan, readers are welcomed to Nura. Journeying through the seasons, Mulgo describes the land, skyscape, birds, animals and totems.
The book is a gentle guide to how Darug people read the seasons, knowing when it is time to hunt and time to rest. It is also an appeal to remember, offering new ways of seeing and reading the lands that surround the Sydney region.
With Darug language interspersed with English and an extensive glossary throughout, Cooee Mittigar is an important tool for learning, told as a tender story with exquisite illustrations. It is Jasmine and Leanne’s wish that with this book, everyone will know that the Darug mob are still here and still strong.
Author: Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Illustrator: Sally Morgan
Publisher, Date: Fremantle Press, 2011
Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina are mother and son. They belong to the Palyku people of the eastern Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Bestselling author and internationally renowned artist Sally Morgan teams up with Ezekiel Kwaymullina to create this story celebrating Country. My Country is a gorgeous picture book featuring simple, lyrical prose and vibrant colour. Ezekiel says, ‘The book was inspired by my Nana and Gran, who passed on their love of Country to me.’
The Rainbow Serpent
Author and illustrator: Dick Roughsey
Publisher, Date: HarperCollins Australia, 1992 (originally published in 1975)
Dick Roughsey (1920–1985) was an Australian Aboriginal artist from the Lardil language group on Mornington Island in the south-eastern Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland.
A timeless classic from the Dreamtime. There are innumerable names and stories associated with the Rainbow Serpent, all of which communicate its significance within Aboriginal traditions. Dreamtime stories tell how the Rainbow Serpent came from beneath the ground and created huge ridges, mountains and gorges as it pushed upward. The name also reflects the snake-like meandering of water across a landscape and the colour spectrum sometimes caused by sunlight hitting the water. Paintings of the Rainbow Serpent first appeared in Arnhem Land rock art more than 6000 years ago, as the seas rose after the last Ice Age. Today the Rainbow Serpent is associated with ceremonies about fertility and abundance, as well as the organisation of the community and the keeping of peace.
Welcome to Country
Author: Aunty Joy Murphy
Illustrator: Lisa Kennedy
Publisher, Date: Black Dog Books/Walker Books Australia, 2016
Joy Murphy Wandin AO is the Senior Aboriginal Elder of the Wurundjeri people of Melbourne and surrounds.
Lisa Kennedy is a descendant of the Trawlwoolway people of the north-east coast of Tasmania.
Welcome to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People. We are part of this land and the land is part of us. This is where we come from. Wominjeka Wurundjeri balluk yearmenn koondee bik. Welcome to Country.
This award-winning picture book is an expansive and accessible welcome that introduces and gives meaning and explanation to the customs and symbols of Indigenous Australia.
Aboriginal communities across Australia have boundaries that are defined by mountain ranges and waterways. Traditionally, to cross these boundaries or enter community country you needed permission from the neighbouring community. When this permission was granted the ceremony now called Welcome to Country took place. Each community had its own way of welcoming to country, and they still do today.
Author: Rachel Bin Salleh
Illustrator: Samantha Fry
Publisher, Date: Magabala Books, 2018
Rachel Bin Salleh is descended from the Nimunburr, Bunuba and Yawuru peoples of the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Samantha Fry is descended from the Dagiman people from Katherine, Northern Territory, and as a child lived in remote communities across the Top End.
Alfred’s War is a powerful story that unmasks the lack of recognition given to Australian Indigenous servicemen who returned from the WWI battlelines. Alfred was just a young man when he was injured and shipped home from France. Neither honoured as a returned soldier nor offered government support afforded to other Australian servicemen, Alfred took up a solitary life walking the back roads, billy tied to his swag, finding work where he could.
Rachel Bin Salleh’s poignant narrative opens our hearts to the sacrifice and contribution that Indigenous people have made to Australia’s war efforts, the true extent of which is only now being revealed.
My Culture and Me
Author: Gregg Dreise
Publisher: Penguin Australia, 2019
Gregg Dreise is of Kamilaroi and Euahlayi heritage, from south-west Queensland and north-west New South Wales.
A stirring story about pride, respect and maintaining culture.
Feel the rhythm of the music, from your heart down to your feet.
Enjoy the movements of melodies, as clapsticks keep a strong beat.
This is my culture. This is me.
Beautifully written and illustrated, My Culture and Me is a heartfelt and powerful story of cherishing and sustaining Indigenous cultures.
The ECA Shop features some of these titles, also consider supporting your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander owned bookshop when purchasing any of the books in the collection.
ECA would like to acknowledge the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature Inc. (NCACL) for their Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Resource, which we drew on while compiling this collection.
This searchable online resource celebrates the rich culture of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by providing a diverse range of books and related information that supports teachers, librarians, parents, caregivers and others working with young people. The resource is user-friendly and provides numerous search options including free-text, author, illustrator, title, publisher and publication date. It also provides an overview of each book’s target age, subject matter, a short synopsis, as well as links to the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum.
The resource can be accessed at NCACL’s website: https://www.ncacl.org.au/atsi-resource/.