Karajia and Environment Awards for Children's Literature

Karajia and Environment Awards for Children's Literature

The Wilderness Society's annual celebration of the best new nature-themed children's books

Since 1994, we've been celebrating the best new fiction, non-fiction and picture books written for children that promote a love of nature. This year marks 30 years of the Environment Award For Children's Literature!

2024 submissions now open

2023 winners announced!

This year, 21 books were shortlisted across both Awards and the judging panel had the toughest job to pick the winners. Without further ado, the 2023 winners are…

Karajia Award for Children’s Literature: Looking after Country with Fire by Victor Steffensen, illustrated by Sandra Steffensen, published by Hardie Grant Explore

Environment Award for Children’s Literature
Non-fiction: The ABC Guide to Loving the Planet by Jaclyn Crupi, illustrated by Cheryl Orsini, published by ABC Books an imprint of Harper Collins

Picture fiction (co-winners): Kind by Jess McGeachin, published by Allen & Unwin, and The Tree at Number 43 by Jess McGeachin, published by Penguin Random House Australia

Fiction: Berani by Michelle Kadarusman, published by Allen & Unwin

Our friends from Gleebooks are donating 10% of sales of the shortlisted or winning titles back to the Wilderness Society to protect nature!

Congratulations Jessica Hay from Queensland who won the full shortlist of the 2023 Karajia and Environment Awards for Children's Literature.


Thank you to everyone who entered - your range of submitted favourite nature books and First Nations stories was amazing!

Here’s what our judges had to say about the winning books

Adam Goodes joined the judging panel this year! Adam is an Adnyamathanha and Narungga man and community leader—and of course, a footy legend. He was also a co-winner of the 2022 Karajia Award.

Here’s what he had to say about Looking After Country with Fire: “What I love about this book is the acknowledgment of Traditional Aboriginal ways and how they can be still useful and efficient in today’s settings, especially the management of Country with fire.”

Adam Duncan is a early childhood educator and a Biripi man whose family and ancestors were Traditional Custodians of lands in the Manning River region of New South Wales.

Here’s what he had to say about The ABC Guide to Loving the Planet: “An amazingly practical guide, geared at children and young people. Filled with accessible and useful ideas, concepts and activities that children can undertake to care for the environment.”

Sami Bayly is an award-winning author and illustrator. She was the winner of the 2022 non-fiction category of the Environment Award for Children’s Literature.

Here’s what she had to say about Berani: “This book promotes a great discussion of ethics/morals, consequences and the environment and how they sometimes may not be as straightforward as you might think. A great topic for kids in the current times."

Alex Papps is a writer and actor. And a much-loved Playschool presenter!

Here’s what he had to say about The Tree at Number 43: “A fantastic tale of inspiration and solidarity.”

Adam Duncan had this to say about Kind: “Breathtakingly illustrated—Kind simplifies the process involved in effectively fostering environmental stewardship in children by reducing the first step to its most accessible form—be kind to all creatures.”

Nature Book Week

Nature Book Week

Our series of exciting nature-themed storytelling events in libraries, parks, bookstores & online!

Who picks the shortlist?

The Environment Award for Children’s Literature has been recognising the talents of authors and illustrators and promoting a love of nature in young people since it was established in 1994. The group of Environmental Educators who helped start the Award back in 1994 shortlists the books, with the help of two junior judges.

Launched in 2022, the Karajia Award for Children’s Literature celebrates excellence in children's literature by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island authors and/or illustrators, who honour Connection to Country and tell stories exploring land, community, culture and language. This year, Danae Coots and Melissa Gee shortlisted the books for the Karajia Award.

Judges, appointed by the Wilderness Society, assess the shortlisted entries based on originality of concept; with engaging language appropriate for the theme, style and audience of the work; and quality design (including illustrations where applicable).

Environment Award for Children’s Literature:
encourages a caring attitude towards the natural environment and/or promotes an awareness of environmental issues.
    Karajia Award for Children’s Literature: promotes themes that honour Connection to Country and tell stories exploring land, community, culture and/or language.

      2023 Karajia Award for Children's Literature shortlist


      The Heartbeat of the Land by Cathy Freeman and Coral Vass, illustrated by Tannya Harricks, published by Larrikin House


      Ninni Yabini by Cheryl Kickett-Tucker, illustrated by Tyrown Waigana, published by Fremantle Press


      The Dunggiirr Brothers and the Caring Song of the Whale by Aunty Shaa Smith and Yandaarra, published by Allen & Unwin


      Our Dreaming by Kirli Saunders, illustrated by Dub Leffler, published by Scholastic Australia


      Come Together by Isaiah Firebrace, illustrated by Jaelyn Biumaiwai, published by Hardie Grant Explore


      Looking After Country with Fire by Victor Steffensen, illustrated by Sandra Steffensen, published by Hardie Grant Explore


      Miimi Marraal, Mother Earth by Melissa Greenwood, published by ABC Books: An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


      We Are Australians by Duncan Smith, Nicole Godwin, illustrated by Jandamarra Cadd, published by Wild Dog Books


      Open Your Heart to Country by Jasmine Seymour, published by Magabala Books

      You can buy one—or all!—of these wonderful titles through our partner Gleebooks, who will donate 10% of sales back to the Wilderness Society so we can continue to protect the nature we love and depend on.

      What is the Karajia award?

      Over the last several years, we noticed that more and more First Nations authored and/or illustrated books being submitted to the Environment Award for Children’s Literature, many of these stories honouring a connection to Country and exploring land, community, culture and language. That’s why we launched the Karajia Award for Children’s Literature in 2022—an award that celebrates this continent's First Nations authors and/or illustrated children’s books.

      In Mirning culture, ‘Karajia’ is a holder and teller of the ancient stories, carried from when the world was young. Bunna Lawrie, Senior Elder of the Mirning people, is a Karajia. He was one of the three inaugural judges of the award and has shared this incredibly special name with us.

      Image: Uncle Bunna Lawrie on Mirning Country | Bill Doyle

      2023 Environment Award For Children's Literature shortlist

      Fiction

      Sunny the Shark by Remy Lai, published by Allen & Unwin


      Tyenna: Through My Eyes - Australian Disaster Zones by Julie Hunt and Terry Whitebeach, published by Allen & Unwin


      Berani by Michelle Kadarusman, published by Allen & Unwin

      Dear Greta by Yvette Poshoglian, published by Penguin Random House Australia

      Non-fiction


      We Are Australians by Duncan Smith and Nicole Godwin, illustrated by Jandamarra Cadd, published by Wild Dog Books


      The ABC Kids Guide to Loving the Planet by Jaclyn Crupi, illustrated by Cheryl Orsini, published by ABC Books: An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


      On the Trail of the Plains-Wanderer: A Precious Australian Bird by Rohan Cleave, illustrated by Julian Teh, published by CSIRO Publishing


      Australia's Endangered Bush Creatures by Myke Mollard, published by Woodslane Press Pty Ltd

      Picture fiction


      Say NO to Plastic! by Ned & Shane Heaton, illustrated by Tamzin Barber, published by Little Steps



      The Tree at Number 43 by Jess McGeachin, published by Penguin Random House Australia


      A Shorebird Flying Adventure by Jackie Kerin and Milly Formby, published by CSIRO Publishing


      Looking After Country with Fire by Victor Steffensen, illustrated by Sandra Steffensen, published by Hardie Grant Explore


      Kind by Jess McGeachin, published by Allen & Unwin

      You can buy one—or all!—of these wonderful titles through our partner Gleebooks, who will donate 10% of sales back to the Wilderness Society so we can continue to protect the nature we love and depend on.

      3 decades of nature stories

      Explore nearly 30 year’s worth of the very best winning and shortlisted kids' nature books.