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Top Ten Indigenous-authored Children’s Books

May 2, 2013

It’s always difficult to do a ‘best of’ list, but when push comes to shove, we all know we have favourites. So, as part of #IndigiRead I have pulled together ten of my favourite Indigenous-authored children’s books in the last few years.

If you click the links, you can read why I love them so much. This list in order of publication date:

1.    My Home Broome  by Tamzyne and Bronwyn Houston, Magabala Books 2012

My Home Broome

My Home Broome explains the six seasons of the region, the meaning and history of the ‘Shinju-Matsuri’, some local Yawuru bush-tucker names, that the bush fruit yaminyarri are one of eh greatest sources of Vitamin C in the world, and that Broome once had it’s own dinosaur, the meat-eating Megalosaurus broomensis! Read full review here:

 2.    Two Mates by Melanie Prewett / Illustrated by Maggie Prewett, Magabala Books, 2012

Two Mates

A kid’s picture book that could be read as a story of Reconciliation (with mutual respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people) is Two Mates, written by Melanie Prewett and illustrated by Maggie Prewett. Based on the true story of two friends – Jack (Indigenous) and Raf (non-Indigenous) and how their mateship plays out in their coastal town on Broome. Read more there:

 3.    Dingo’s Tree  Written and illustrated by Gladys Milroy and Jill Milroy Magabala Books 2012 $19.95

Dingo's Tree

The story of Dingo and his friends Moon, Magpie, Wombat and Little Tree (who becomes Walking Tree) presents an engaging and colourful environmental story for kids. Its about the effect of mining on the landscape; where poles replace trees, where mining cuts scars so deep into Country they will never heal, where raindrops are tears and where the living creatures have to work together to survive.

Read full review here:

 4.    Once There Was A Boy Written and illustrated by Dub Leffler, Magabala Books 2011 $24.95

Once There Was a Boy

This is possibly the most beautiful book I have had the pleasure of holding and reading this year. Read my review here:

5.    Shake a Leg Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod / Allen & Unwin 2011 RRP: $24.99


Boori Monty Pryor  is a stellar storyteller. I’ve seen him in action wowing young people and adults alike at schools, libraries, community events and major literary festivals. There’s no surprise at all that his most recent book Shake A Leg  – with lively illustrations by the talented Jan Ormerod – was named the 2011 Winner (Children’s Fiction) in the prestigious Prime Minister’s Awards. Read full review here:

6. From Little Things Big Things Grow by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody, One Day Hill, 2011

from little things big things grow

We have a new national anthem, yes, we do. We don’t need a referendum on it, just accept it as given. Trust me. It’s called From Little Things Big Things Grow and it’s about the Gurindji Wave Hill walk-off in 1966 – a fight over wages and conditions that ended in a battle for land rights. It’s about the proud Gurindji people and their stand against the might of the cattle baron, Lord Vestey. Read more here: and publisher page:

7.    The Old Frangipani Tree at Flying Fish Point By Trina Saffioti and Illustrated by Maggie Prewett Magabala Books, 2009


This is by far one of the loveliest stories I’ve read in a long time, starting with the brightly coloured and illustrated cover by Maggie Prewitt. Full review here:

8.    Wandihnu and the Old Dugong By Elizabeth and Wandihnu  Wymarra 2007 Magabala Books


Wandihnu and the Old Dugong is a valuable resource as it’s a positive story about Aboriginal and Torres Strait identity in the 21st century. We follow young city-born Wandihnu on a journey back to her roots on the island of Badu in the western part of the Torres Strait. Wandihnu learns language – or so she should – and there in lies the lesson of this tale. Full review here:

9.    Bilby and the Bushfire  By Joanne Crawford and illustrated by Grace Fielding, Magabala Books Broome 2007

Bilby and the bushire

This is a very Australian book with wattle bushes, spinifex grass, eucalyptus trees, and all the birds, insects, reptiles and animals that go into make the bush environment. Of course in that community is also the koala, wombat and platypus as well.


10. Papunya School Book of Country and History by staff and students of Papunya School with Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle. Allen and Unwin, 2002


I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again, this multi-award winning book that is a history, art, storybookneeds to be in every household and every library (local and school) in the country!

If these books look appealing to you, why not ask your local library to order them in? And your kid’s school library as well. They are also fantastic teaching resources. Finally, if you’re like me and give books instead of crappy toys for presents, then you can order these titles direct from their publishers or from Booktopia!

 Anita Heiss

9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2013 8:25 pm

    Fabulous choices. I also love Sam’s Bush Journey by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Marngrook by Titta Secombe, Stolen Girl by Trina Saffioti, Fair Skin Black Fella by Renee Fogorty, and Our World by the children and teachers of the One Arm Point Remote Community School at Ardiyooloon on the Dampier Peninsular.

  2. November 5, 2013 10:45 pm

    Thanks for the list. I’ll have to look out for them in the bookstores.

  3. December 16, 2014 11:10 pm

    Great collection of children storybook. Thanks for sharing such an awesome list

  4. Jade permalink
    May 3, 2015 9:06 pm

    Once There Was a Boy is such a lovely book… will check out some of the others – thanks for the list

  5. February 17, 2016 6:49 am

    Thank you for the list of books you have provided! As a future teacher it is helpful to see what books are out there so I know what books to put into my classroom someday soon!


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