Books for NAIDOC Week
We've compiled a selection of great reads to celebrate this year's NAIDOC Week 2021.
Storytelling is an incredible part of everyone's culture; it's how people have been passing on lessons and knowledge to future generations since time began. Main image: Cover detail from Wilam by Andrew Kelly and Aunty Joy Murphy; illustrated by Lisa Kennedy.
This NAIDOC Week, taking place from 4-11 July, is a chance to celebrate First Nations storytellers and illustrators, and their incredible books.
Here, a selection of some of the First Nations children's titles that have been shortlisted for the Wilderness Society's Environment Award For Children's Literature award in recent years. And below, some further reading ideas for NAIDOC Week 2021.
Great books shortlisted in the Environment Award For Children's Literature in recent years (plus a winner!)
Brother Moon by Maree McCarthy; illustrated by Samantha Fry; Magabala Books. Shortlisted in the Picture Fiction category for 2021.
Beneath the dark sky of the Northern Territory, Hippy-Boy is captivated when Great-Grandpa Liman tells him the mysterious story of his brother and how it guides his connection to Country.
Great-Grandpa is a masterful storyteller and, as the tale unfolds, he finally reveals his brother is the moon—a wonder of the universe. Hippy-Boy learns how his great-grandfather uses the phases of the moon when he goes hunting and fishing, and why it is important for us all to have an understanding of the natural world.
Liman (Harry Morgan), the author’s grandfather, was a respected Wadjigany man, a leader amongst his people and the community. Liman was born at Manjimamany in the Northern Territory in 1916. He was a canoe maker, hunter, community mediator, and a family man who lived off the land and travelled the seas. Liman spoke Batjamalh, his first language, and other languages from the Daly River area.
Wilam by Andrew Kelly and Aunty Joy Murphy; illustrated by Lisa Kennedy; Walker Books Australia. Shortlisted in the Picture Fiction category in 2020.
As ngua rises, Bunjil soars over mountain ash, flying higher and higher as the wind warms. Below, Birrarung begins its long winding path down to palem warreen. Wilam – home. Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly joins award-winning picture book duo Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy to tell the Indigenous and geographical story of Melbourne’s beautiful Yarra river, from its source to its mouth; from its pre-history to the present day.
Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy; Walker Books Australia. Winner of the non-fiction category in 2017.
A multi-award-winning picture book is an expansive and generous Welcome to Country from a most respected Elder, Aunty Joy Murphy, beautifully given form by Indigenous artist Lisa Kennedy.
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.
More great kids' books:
Bindi by Kirli Saunders; illustrated by Dub Leffler; Magabala Books
Meet 11-year-old Bindi. She’s not really into maths but LOVES art class and playing hockey. Her absolute FAVOURITE thing is adventuring outside with friends or her horse, Nell.
A new year starts like normal—school, family, hockey, dancing. But this year hasn’t gone to plan! There’s a big art assignment, a drought, a broken wrist AND the biggest bushfires her town has ever seen!
Bindi is a verse novel for mid-upper primary students. Written ‘for those who plant trees’, Bindi explores climate, bushfires, and healing. Written from the point of view of 11-year-old, Bindi and her friends on Gundungurra Country.
The Art in Country: A Treasury for Children by Bronwyn Bancroft; Hardie Grant Egmont
In this magnificent celebration of country, Bronwyn Bancroft uses colours, shapes, patterns and words to explore the awe-inspiring beauty of the Australian continent, and to express the depth of her feelings for it.
The Art in Country: A Treasury for Children is an essential addition to any young Australian's library, and a perfect introduction to the many wonders that this country has to offer. This is a treasury to be cherished by all who love this land.
A read for the grown-ups:
Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray, River of Dreams by Anita Heiss; Simon & Schuster Australia
The powerful Murrumbidgee River surges through town leaving death and destruction in its wake. It is a stark reminder that while the river can give life, it can just as easily take it away.
Wagadhaany is one of the lucky ones. She survives. But is her life now better than the fate she escaped? Forced to move away from her miyagan, she walks through each day with no trace of dance in her step, her broken heart forever calling her back home to Gundagai.
When she meets Wiradyuri stockman Yindyamarra, Wagadhaany’s heart slowly begins to heal. But still, she dreams of a better life, away from the degradation of being owned. She longs to set out along the river of her ancestors, in search of lost family and country. Can she find the courage to defy the White man’s law? And if she does, will it bring hope ... or heartache?
More great books from celebrated First Nations authors:
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation has put together the Reading Opens Doors Library. It's an incredible selection of 17 titles for all ages from celebrated First Nations authors including Anita Heiss, Bruce Pascoe and Archie Roach, among many others.