Stories Celebrating First Nations’ Culture

03 July, 2024

Give your children insight into the history of Australia, by sharing picture books that showcase and celebrate First Nations’ art, culture and connection to the land.

Australia’s First Nations people have been passing down their culture through oral storytelling for thousands of years. These new picture books continue the story and present a contemporary perspective. With NAIDOC Week celebrations occurring across the country during the first week of July, it’s the perfect time to share a yarn or two with your little one. Here’s five of our favourites.


Giinagay Gaagal Hello Ocean

Glorious artworks flood the pages of this book that celebrate First Nations’ connection to the ocean. Every page is exquisite. From greeting the vibrant morning sun to the stunning vista where land meets sand and then ocean, the artwork is unmistakably Aboriginal, but also contemporary. The author shares both the joy of time spent at the beach and personal insight into what makes it so meaningful for her family and First Nations people. Giinagay Gaagal Hello Ocean is one of five books (so far) written and illustrated by artist Melissa Greenwood and published by Harper Collins Children’s Books.


Somebody’s Land

This book firmly positions First Nations people as the original inhabitants of Australia. Joyful illustrations show people making tools, tracking animals, enjoying bush tucker, dancing and dreaming. It’s a celebration of Aboriginal culture. It’s also a book that’s been written specifically to help explain why we acknowledge our country’s traditional custodians at schools, events and more. The language is engaging and there’s just the right amount of words for children. Somebody’s Land is part of the Welcome to Our Country series of four books written by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing, illustrated by David Hardy and published by Allen and Unwin.


Three Dresses

This story gives young readers insight into life for Aboriginal children in the 1950s as the author shares her recollection of joyful childhood summer holidays spent away from the mission. Wanda walks for two days with her family to camp at the beach near Hope Vale in Far North Queensland and takes three dresses – one to wear, one to wash and a spare. The family spend their holidays swimming and fishing, with the girls helping mum while dad uses his spear and woomera. The story captures a lovely memory in a situation that certainly was not. Three Dresses is written and illustrated by Wanda Gibson and published by University of Queensland Press.


Tangki Tjuta Donkeys

These donkeys are woven from desert grass picked from their traditional land across the central and western desert regions of Australia. The woven donkeys, along with woven people, trees and huts are used to illustrate a local story about the donkeys that were introduced to the region. The story is told conversationally – like hearing a yarn – in both Pitjantjatjara and English, and the book comes with a QR code to scan to hear the book read aloud in both languages too. Tangki Tjuta Donkeys is created by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers and published by Allen and Unwin.


Tamarra A Story of Termites in Gurindji Country

This book shares with readers a real insight into First Nations’ connection to the land by presenting nonfiction information about termites alongside photos and illustrations explaining termites’ importance to First Nations people as both a food source and as part of their cultural traditions. It is extensively illustrated with intricate First Nations dot paintings, lots of photos of termites, their environment and First Nations people interacting with termite mounds. There’s illustrated endpapers too. Tamarra A Story of Termites in Gurindji Country is a collaborative effort by more than 30 people and published by Hardie Grant.


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