Children's literature

A guide to children's literature including resources at the State Library and elsewhere

Aboriginality

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this webpage contains images of deceased Indigenous Australians.

This page will help you to find children's books and eresources by or about:

  • Indigenous Australians
  • the portrayal of Indigenous Australian culture

Today the cultural diversity of Indigenous Australian communities enhances Australian children's literature, however racist misrepresentations of Aboriginality are common in earlier children's books

ATSIRLIRN (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information Resources Network) identifies protocols for libraries and archives handling Indigenous Australian material, appropriate ways of interaction with Indigenous Australians, and links to Indigenous publishing houses and mainstream publishers of Indigenous Australian content

The Indigenous Languages website is an initiative designed to give access to Indigenous Australian languages through digitised words lists, language records and other cultural documents beginning with material in the State Library of NSW collections

The section of this guide on literary criticism will help you to research books and articles about literary criticism and Aboriginality in children's literature.

Fiction and non fiction by or about Indigenous Australians

Find fiction and non fiction children's books about Aboriginality through the Library catalogue:

  1. In the large Search box enter the phrase 'Aboriginal Australian*' (the symbol * is used to truncate words, so in this search you are combining the singular and plural of the word Australian)
  2. Beneath the Search box are 3 smaller boxes that will help you refine your search. In the first box use the drop-down menu arrow and choose Books, in the second box choose Using my exact phrase and leave the third box as it is
  3. Click Search.

You can refine your search results on the left hand side of your screen under Refine results by scrolling down to SLV Collection and clicking Children's.Collection facet

Those results can be refined further by selecting one of the subjects, creation dates or genres listed on the left hand side of the screen.

Animations

Dust echoes (2007) is a collection of 12 Indigenous traditional stories from the Wugularr community in Arnhem Land, narrated in English and interpreted as short animated movies for young people. Additional information is supplied including a synopsis, provenance and significance, study guides and classroom activities.

Indigenous voice in children's books: literary criticism research by Krisha Leione

Some recent articles about the Indigenous voice in Australian children's literature include the following in full text:

'Black words' in Island, no. 137, 2014

'Dingo, monster, "I": Personal and cultural meanings in sand stories by a young girl, Central Australia', by Ute Eickelkamp, in American Imago, vol 71(2), 2014

'Preserving languages in the new millennium: Indigenous bilingual children's books' by Hadaway and Young, in Childhood Education, vol. 90(5), 2014

'Red, yellow, and black: Australian Indigenous publishing for young people' by Robyn Sheahan-Bright in Bookbird, vol. 49(3), 2011.

'Politics of Indigeneity in Fogarty's poetry (Lionel Fogarty), by Sean Gorman, in CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, vol. 13(2), 2011

'Aboriginal Australian and Canadian First nations children's literature' by Angeline O'Neill, in CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, vol. 13(2), 2011

'My favourite book!: Young Aboriginal children's book choices', in Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, vol. 36(1), 2011

'The Legends of Moonie Jarl: Our first Indigenous children's book' by Juliet O'Conor, in The La Trobe Journal, no. 79(16), 2007

'Are you talking to me? Hailing the reader in Indigenous children's literature' by Penelope Davie, in Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature, vol. 16(2), 2006

'Walking with Indigenous authors' by Michael Rose, in Bookseller and Publisher Magazine, vol. 85(9), 2006

'Spreading seeds of culture [Magabala Books, the Broome-based publishing company], by Michele Gierck, in Eureka Street, vol. 16(1), 2006

'Cultural explorations of time and space: Indigenous Australian artists in residence, conventional narratives and children's text creation', by Margaret Zeegers, in Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature, vol. 16(2), 2006

'Postcolonial transformation and traditional Australian Indigenous story', by Juliet O'Conor, in Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature, vol. 16(2), 2006

The Children's Literature Digital Resources project initiated by Queensland University of Technology has over 500 primary and secondary resources fully digitised on the AustLit database. Click here to find representations of Aboriginal Australians in a selection of CLDR texts

Literary criticism

Collection of six papers by academics, authors and critics 'The Aboriginal motif in children's literature' in Proceedings of a national seminar held at the University of Tasmania, Hobart 25-27 September, 1981

PhD thesis (2002) that explores the construction of Aboriginal childhood in children's fiction 'Black face white story: the construction of Aboriginal childhood by non-Aboriginal writers in Australian children's fiction 1841-1998' by J Thistleton-Martin

Detailed analysis of the editing process for the 1972 edition of Oodgeroo Noonuccal's Stradbroke Dreamtime 'Deemed unsuitable for children: the editing of Oodgeroo's  Stradbroke Dreamtime' by Jennifer Jones in Papers: Explorations into children's literature, Vol. 14(1), pp. 5-14, 2004

Article discussing how fairy tales may be reconciled with the Australian landscape 'Australia's fairy tales illustrated in print instances of indigeneity, colonization, and suburbanization' by Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario in Marvels & Tales, Vol. 25(1), pp. 12-32

Additional websites on Aboriginality

Additional websites on Aboriginality include:

The State Library has produced a student study website about Indigenous rights, and a number of research guides about Aboriginal people:

Other websites include the Koorie Heritage Trust, the Koorie History website and the Australian Museum Indigenous Australia site

Selection of Publishers of Indigenous Books for Children

Indigenous Publishers

Budburra Books based at Cherbourg     IAD Press     Indig Readers     Keeaira Press     Magabala Books

Mainstream Publishers with Indigenous content

Allen & Unwin     Fremantle Press     University of Queensland Press     University of WA Publishing     Working Title Press

Traditional stories

The legends of Moonie Jarl by Wilf Reeves and illustrated by Olga Miller

Picture books

The spotty dotty lady, by Josie Boyle illustrated by Fern Martins

The spotty dotty lady, by Josie Boyle illustrated by Fern Martins

Book for younger readers

Whisper, by Fran Dobbie

Whisper, by Fran Dobbie

Book for older readers

Becoming Kirrali Lewis, by Jane Harrison

Becoming Kirrali Lewis, by Jane Harrison

Biography

Perkins Freedom ride

Cover, Charlie Perkins and the Freedom Ride, by Melanie Guile. Reproduced with permission of Macmillan Education Australia

Non-fiction

Fantome Island by Kathy Gibson, illustrated by Jack Bell