There are so many brilliant picture books for children but I especially love reading Australian books to my three.
We have an amazing amount of talented authors and incredible illustrators here in Australia showcasing our beautiful country, telling our unique stories and putting our Aussie sense of humour on display.
So this list of 25 awesome Aussie picture books is by no means exhaustive and it isn’t in any particular order either. These are just 25 books we think you and your children will love.
25 awesome Aussie picture books for children
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas
by Aaron Blabey
My son loved this book so much he took it for show-and-tell. And the teacher loved it so much she read it to the class that day – even though it had the word ‘bum’ in it! From the author of the popular Pig the Pug series, this is a funny story about a piranha with a taste for fruit. It has great rhythm so it’s fun to read and, as I mentioned, it has the word ‘bum’ in it so it is guaranteed to have kids aged 5-7 rolling on the floor laughing.
The Very Cranky Bear
by Nick Bland
Pick up any Nick Bland book and you’ll be happy you did. His Cranky Bear series is brilliant and this very first one is my favourite. It has great pace, rhythm and rhyme and is a cute original story that has a bit of a moral as well.
Where is the Green Sheep?
by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
Mem Fox has given us so many wonderful stories over the years but this one is a favourite among my three children. They’ve all learned to read it (aka memorise it) at a very young age because of its simple but clever premise. Where is that green sheep? You’ll have to wait to the last page to find out!
by Katrina Germein and Judy Watson
I have so much fun reading this book aloud. It is so expressive in its description as it tells the storm of a family taking shelter during a thunderstorm. Each element of the storm resembles a member of the family and the words and illustrations perfectly demonstrate this. An extremely clever book. Love it.
There’s a Sea in My Bedroom
by Margaret Wild illustrated by Jane Tanner
This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of David, a young boy scared of the sea. One day David takes home a shell and listens to the ‘sea’ inside. Soon the sea rushes out of the shell and into his bedroom. This is a wonderful story about overcoming fears and it really resonated with my children. Its author Margaret Wild has written more than 70 books for children including award-winners The Very Best of Friends and Fox.
Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten
by Bob Graham
My favourite part of this book is the images inside the front and back covers. It is a wonderful story of a girl called Rose who has moved to a new neighbourhood where she is soon warned about the scary man next door. But when a ball is lost over his fence she ventures over to discover that perhaps Mr Wintergarten isn’t so scary at all. A delightful book about loneliness, bravery and kindness from the author of many other awesome books including Silver Buttons and A Bus Called Heaven.
Are We There Yet?
by Alison Lester
You can’t get much more Australian than this incredible book by much-loved children’s author Alison Lester. We have a huge Alison Lester collection but this book has really captured my children’s imagination. It is the story of a family on a trip around Australia. My children love the illustrations (especially the diagram of the caravan’s contents) and the references to Aussie landmarks (they’re learning too!). They always point out the page where they family travels past ‘our house!’ even though our city isn’t mentioned. This book will keep them entertained for years.
by Anna Walker
Peggy is a hen living in the suburbs and quite content with her little hen house and regular daily routine. Then one day she’s swept up in a strong wind and ends up in the big city. This is such an adorable story about safety, bravery, adventure and the security of home. It is funny and its illustrations are stunning.
by Ted Prior
Grug is an Aussie icon. He was created in 1979 and the series has been entertaining Aussie children ever since. Grug is an imaginary bush animal – looks a bit like a haystack – and over the years he’s had many adventures. He has played cricket, played soccer, gone to the zoo, learned to dance, built a boat, flown a kite and more. A must-read for Aussie kids.
Edward the Emu
by Sheena Knowles and Rod Clement
Edward the Emu lives in a zoo and isn’t very happy about being an emu. So he tries his hand at being other things, like snakes and lions. When that doesn’t quite work out he’s put back in his enclosure where something is waiting for him – something that makes him very happy to be an emu! A very Aussie story about being yourself and finding your place in life.
by Nick Bland
Another Nick Bland book but this one is a little different from The Cranky Bear. It is the stellar story of a little girl who becomes friends with a star, but eventually the star must return home. My children love the atmospheric illustrations and the way they show parallel storylines that aren’t mentioned in the book’s word.
by Danny Parker and Matt Ottley
Something about this book really appealed to my children. They are quite shy children and this story was one they seemed to related to well. It is about a young boy named Toby who puts his parachute on each morning to help keep him safe in a large ‘adult’ world. One day he is left without his parachute and needs to find a way to cope without it. A clever book about security, growing up and letting go.
Miss Lily’s Fabulous Pink Feather Boa
by Margaret Wild and Kerry Argent
Another great Aussie tale from much-loved author Margaret Wild. This time it is the story of the last Potoroo who meets the fabulous Miss Lily when she stays at her guest house. She is so enchanted by Miss Lily that she takes a little piece of her magic away with her. A very Australia book featuring a larger-than-life title character and a special little lesson to take away as well.
by Graeme Base
I loved this book as a child and my children are equally captivated by its absolutely incredible illustrations. The best thing is that Animalia is just one of Graeme Base’s amazing books – make sure you also check out the rest. My children also especially love Eye to Eye and Uno’s Garden.
The Wrong Book
by Nick Bland
Another fun book by Nick Bland, this time the story about a little boy called Nicholas Ickle who is having quite a bit of trouble telling his story. There’s an iPad version of this too that the kids will absolutely love.
by Marc Martin
Max is a seagull and his best friend is Bob a fish and chip shop owner (clever seagull!). But one day Bob is gone. My kids love this tale of friendship and I love the illustrations and the underlying story about the wonderful things that are often overlooked as the world moves and changes.
John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat
by Jenny Wagner and Ron Brooks
A classic Aussie book from my own childhood. A simple story about companionship that is a bit darker in places than you might be used to. But for nearly 40 years children have been enjoying this tale of Rose and her faithful dog John Brown.
by Emma Quay
Oh my gosh – is there a more fun book than Rudie Nudie? I can’t remember if I bought this book because my kids love nudie runs at bathtime or whether they love nudie runs because of this book. Doesn’t matter now! I think they love this one because it is so close to their own lives (and because it inspires them to ditch the clothes and run around!).
by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
No list of awesome Australian books is complete without Mem Fox’s classic tale about this disappearing possum! Children have loved this one for decades and will continue for decades to come.
Amy and Louis
by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood
A beautiful story about friendships and the connections that remain even over a distance. This one is so Aussie that it will have your kids yelling ‘cooo-eeee’ when they need to get each other’s attention. Very cute.
Too Loud Lily
by Sofie Laguna and Kerry Argent
Boy, could we identify with this book in our house! Lily is a happy hippo but everyone keeps telling her she’s too loud. She finally finds somewhere that her loudness is celebrated and appreciated. A wonderful book about staying true to yourself and finding your place in the world.
When the Forest Meets the Sea
by Jeannie Baker
Illustrated using natural materials, this incredible books tells the story of a young boy exploring an Australian rainforest and glimpsing this country’s ancestors and long history.
by Marcia K Vaughan and Pamela Lofts
This book will have your children dancing around singing the very catchy “Wombat Stew, Wombat Stew”. A great book about a clever dingo and some other even more clever Aussie animals.
by Alison Lester
My son picked this one as his favourite Alison Lester book. There are so many more I could have included in this list (we love Imagine, Noni the Pony and Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo) but he insisted on this one. It is the story of a young girl growing up on a farm over the course of the year. It is descriptive and fun. Very Australian.
Diary of a Wombat
by Jackie French illustrated by Bruce Whatley
A day in the life of a wombat! This is such a cute book about life through the eyes of a wombat. It is funny, it is fun to read and kids love it. If your children fall in love with this wombat make sure you also check out Baby Wombat’s Week.