“You want a magic potion to make your kids brighter? Give them books.” – Jackie French, award-winning Australian author.
Sharing stories and reading aloud to your child is beneficial to their development in so many ways. These totally present shared moments together will help children to become familiar with sounds and words, spark their imagination and develop the ability to listen and understand stories. Whether you get your books from a book shop, local library or a second-hand book sale, fill your home with books and reap the rewards.
There are many wonderful books on our shelves and here are our suggestions of 20 Australian books to read aloud to your kids!
1. Diary of a Wombat.
By Jackie French.
Award-winning picture book, Diary of a Wombat has attained cult status. It depicts the cheeky antics of Mothball, “a wombat with attitude”. This wombat leads a very busy and demanding life. She wrestles unknown creatures, runs her own digging business, and even trains her humans!
2. Sippy and Sunny: A Byron Bay Adventure.
By Vicki Wood and Kelly Elsom.
A bilingual (English/French) book featuring beautiful illustrations and gold foil embellishment on many of the pages. The story follows Sunny on an adventure with her beautiful dragon Sippy, who never breathes fire, roaring butterflies instead. Sippy and Sunny visit some of the landmarks and environments around Byron. The story explores the possibilities of letting yourself dream the seemingly impossible. This book also comes with a hand-painted feather for your child to hold as you read aloud.
3. Excuse Me!
By Dave Hughes and Holly Ife.
Catch a whiff of this hilarious tale about finally letting go, written by Australian comedian Dave Hughes and his wife Holly. The story’s protagonist Martha May has marvellous manners. She always says please and thank you and she most certainly does not fart! But what will happen on the day of the Baked Bean Bonanza?
4. Possum Magic.
By Mem Fox.
Another award-winning popular children’s book, Possum Magic is about Grandma Poss, who makes Hush invisible (with bush magic) so she is safe from dangers. But one day Hush wants to become visible again. The story details the duo’s adventures as they tour Australia searching for the secret to Hush’s visibility. It is a story of Australia’s animals and varied landscapes in search to find the magic that will make Hush visible again.
5. Me and You.
By Deborah Kelly.
This delightful rhyming picture book won the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2017. It celebrates all the special relationships and fun-filled activities in a child’s life, their special bonds with parents, grandparents, cousins, neighbours and pets, as well as all the wonderful fun-filled days they enjoy together. This is a joyous, accessible picture book perfect for sharing with children.
6. Do Not Open This Book!
By Andy Lee.
A hilarious book written by radio extraordinaire and all-round funny guy, Andy Lee (of Hamish and Andy). Plenty of opportunity to be enthusiastic and silly while reading this book out loud and your kids will love it! The main character will do anything for you not to open this book! Threats, bribes, reverse psychology – you name it! Young readers will love doing everything they’re asked not to with lots of laughing along the way! The sequel, “Do Not Open This Book Again!” was recently released too.
By Alison Lester
This is a classic Australian alphabet book. Affectionate, funny and full of detail. This book gives a vivid picture of a child’s daily adventures. Read aloud, have fun with letters, discover new words, join in the adventures of Alice and Aldo, and find all kinds of surprising and familiar things within this glorious alphabet book.
By Philip Bunting
The first picture book by author, illustrator and Queensland father-of-two, Philip Bunting. Mopoke’ is Australia’s smallest and most common species of owl who loves peace and quiet. But he is about to find out that you can’t always get what your want. Using as few words as possible, Mopoke asks the reader to bring their own personal interpretation and expression to the book reading. It requires the reader to increase intonation, experiment with volume, pauses and all of those things that ultimately enhance the parent-child book-reading experience.
9. Pig the Pug.
By Aaron Blabey.
Pig is a selfish pug and poor old sausage dog Trevor cops the brunt of his greed over food and most especially over toys. When the ever-patient Trevor suggests ‘sharing’ the toys because it might be fun, Pig flips his wig and goes into a maniacal rant! Winner of two Picture Book of the Year Awards, it is no wonder Aaron Blabey has such a strong following. His illustrations are irresistible, humourous and unforgettable. Pig turns up again in “Pig the Fibber”, “Pig the Winner”, “Pig the Elf” and “Pig the Star”.
10. Where is the Green Sheep?
By Mem Fox.
Here is the blue sheep, and here is the red sheep. Here is the bath sheep, and here is the bed sheep. But where is the green sheep? The simple syntax and wonderful metre make this a perfect story to read to infants and also as a first reader for four and five year olds.
11. Shake A Leg.
By Boori Monty Pryor.
Have you ever eaten a crocodile-shaped pizza? Indigenous writer and 2012 Australian Children’s Laureate, Boori Monty Pryor tells the story of three young boys who go to a pizza parlour in Far North Queensland and meet an Aboriginal chef who can speak Italian! As he makes their pizza he tells them traditional stories, and when they’ve eaten he teaches them to dance the stories. Shake A Leg is a unique picture book about having fun and sharing culture.
12. I just couldn’t wait to meet you.
By Kate Ritchie.
Much-loved actor and radio host Kate Ritchie’s first book is a beautiful tribute to the joy and anticipation of expecting a child. When you were still a treasured bump, tucked safe away inside, I thought about you night and day and in my sleep – it’s true. My heart was full of hope and love. I just couldn’t wait to meet you. This is a heartwarming story to share with the children in your family.
13. Are we there yet? A Journey Around Australia.
By Alison Lester.
Much-loved, award-winning author and illustrator, Alison Lester retells a story based on an actual journey she undertook. Grace and her family go on an adventurous and sometimes funny expedition all around Australia. This is a warm, heartfelt story with engaging illustrations of Australian landmarks that will take you from the Barossa Valley to Uluru; camping, experiencing and meeting all the people and places that make up Australia!
14. Koala Lou.
By Mem Fox.
Koala Lou’s mother loved her most of all and told her one hundred times a day. As time passed and more little brothers and sisters were born, her mother became too busy to tell Koala Lou that she loved her all the time. She grew sad and tried to think of a brilliant plan to win back her mother’s love and hear those wonderful words again. The warmth of Mem Fox’s touching story of enduring mother love is perfectly captured in Pamela Loft’s irresistible illustrations of this irresistible little koala.
15. No One Likes A Fart.
By Zoe Foster Blake.
Fart is excited! He’s desperate to make friends and have fun. But no one likes a fart. Not even a fart with a heart. Too smelly. Too embarrassing. Too gross. Zoe Foster Blake has written lots of grown-up books, none of which mention a single fart. She is the mother of two little people, a cat with a permanently cranky face and wife of comedian Hamish Blake. She wants it known that despite writing this book, she still doesn’t like farts. This read-aloud story is full of jokes to make your children laugh out loud and is about accepting yourself and finding a friend who loves you just the way you are.
16. Wombat Stew.
By Marcia Vaughan.
This classic Australian picture book is about a dingo that catches a wombat and wants to cook him in a gooey, brewy, yummy, chewy stew. But all of wombat’s bush animal friends have a plan to save him. They trick the dingo into using mud, feathers, flies, bugs and gumnuts in his wombat stew and the result is a stew the dingo will never forget!
17. Who Sank the Boat?
By Pamela Allen.
Who sank the boat? Was it the cow or the donkey or the sheep with her knitting? Surely it wasn’t the tiny, little mouse? Winner of the 1983 Australian Picture Book of the Year Award, this charmingly funny and wonderfully illustrated book is designed for sharing aloud and will make your children giggle as they guess which animal spoilt a day’s rowing by sinking the boat.
18. The Very Cranky Bear.
By Nick Bland.
In the Jingle, jangle jungle, four friends encounter a very cranky bear. Moose, Lion and Zebra all think they know how to cheer him up, but it’s plain, boring Sheep who has the answer. This is a hilarious picture book, with the over-riding message being: Don’t underestimate the quiet ones! Sometime a little thought is all you need to solve a problem instead of rushing to immediate action. Also in this series, The Very Brave Bear, The Very Hungry Bear, The Very Itchy Bear and The Very Noisy Bear.
19. This is a Ball.
By Beck and Matt Stanton.
You know how you’re right all the time? Well, it’s time to give the kids a turn. This is why everything you read in this book is going to be wrong. A cube is a ball? A car is a bike? But it’s okay, because the kids are going to correct you. And they’re going to love it! This book is funny, clever, dry and encourages kids to think outside the square and understand that what we see is all about perception.
20. The 91-Storey Treehouse.
By Andy Griffiths.
Andy Griffiths is one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors; his work has been adapted for stage and television and won over 70 Australian children’s choice awards. This is the latest from his bestselling, award-winning Treehouse series where you can join Andy and Terry in their ridiculous 91-storey treehouse! Go for a spin in the world’s most powerful whirlpool, take a ride in a submarine sandwich, get marooned on a desert island and hang out in a giant spider web! Totally captivating and will have you laughing out loud together!