Best Books For Kids By Australian Authors
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Best Books for Kids By Australian Authors

I have had the privilege to read some of the best books for children. Many of them are classic books for kids because they are handed down through the generations.

As a teacher librarian, I had access to many of the best books to read to children available and to choose those I thought children would sit still for and benefit from.

The more I was attached to a story influenced the children. If I noticed there was little response to a story, I would stop and ask the children why. I got some very informed reasons.

It is so rewarding to see the rapt attention on the faces of children as they look at superb illustrations and listen to the accompanying text.

Some of the stories I shared are outlined below. Some of them will become classic books for children. They are not in order of importance. I love them all.

1. Fox: Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks (ill) (2000)

Margaret Wild has written a number of picture stories and all are of a high standard. I feel ‘Fox’ is the most outstanding. The text and illustrations (by esteemed illustrator Ron Brooks) are a perfect marriage. The setting is the harsh landscape of the Australian outback.

The characters are a magpie with a burnt wing and a dog with a missing eye. Dog and magpie are support one another. Dog is Magpie’s wings and Magpie is his missing eye.

When Fox turns up the reader is lead through the theme of betrayal and then hope.

This book evokes very strong emotions in the reader and is not suitable for very young children. I read it to groups of 8 to 11-year olds and there was total silence until the discussion afterwards.

2. Where is the Green Sheep?: Mem Fox and Judy Horacek (ill) (2004)

Mem Fox is the author of Australia’s bestselling picture story 'Possum Magic'.

‘Where is the Green Sheep?’ is my favourite because I have seen the pure joy in young children’s faces as they wait anxiously to find out where she is. The same response came from my husband and a group of women I was reading it to as well.

Mem Fox is a literacy expert and educates teachers. She does not enjoy writing picture stories for young children for she believes the very process can make you mad. Yet time and again she comes up with a book that children will sit still for. The ideas find her rather than the other way around!

The idea of the green sheep came from the illustrator’s website. Together they have produced a much-loved children’s picture story.

3. Edward the Emu: Sheena Knowles and Rod Clement (ill) (1998)

Australia has unique flora and fauna. An emu is a flightless bird with strong legs that can deliver a heck of a kick. It can only walk forwards and not backwards. It is on the Australian Coat of Arms.

Edward lives in a zoo. He is tired of being an emu and not being noticed by the visitors to the zoo. When the zoo closes at night Edward visits the other animals and imitates the way, they are. The illustrations capture Edward’s poses perfectly. Edward finally discovers that being himself is best of all. In a later book, we learn about Edwina!

4. John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat: Jenny Wagner and Ron Brooks (ill) (1977)

This book is never been out of print. You can read it as a simple story about friendship and loyalty or on a deeper level as an allegory about approaching death and the acceptance of it. The author, Jenny Wagner, has produced a story that incorporates metaphor and allegory.

It provokes a profound emotional response from children.

Ron Brooks provides the superb illustrations.

5. Crusher is Coming: Bob Graham (2008)

The author and illustrator Bob Graham has written and illustrated many stories about families. This book is my favourite. Its theme is about stereotypes (the football hero) and expectations (a football hero is interested in ‘manly’ things).

Crusher (doesn't the name give it away?) is the school tough kid and football hero. He is coming to Peter’s house for tea. Peter clears his bedroom of all childish things in expectation of the visit and exciting things to play. But Crusher surprises Peter. He only wants to play with Peter’s little sister Claire. The way Graham builds up Crusher’s impending visit is engrossing. The reader or listener is held in suspense and the ending is delightful.

6. Who Sank the Boat? Pamela Allen (1996)

A group of animals including a cow, a donkey, a sheep, a pig and a tiny mouse, all lived at Mr. Peffer’s place by the sea. One sunny morning they decide to go for a row on the bay in a row boat!

Getting them all into the boat is hilarious. This book has bright, humorous illustrations and the text has a lot of rhyme, rhythm and repetition. Full of humour too and could be a catalyst for some great discussions.

There are lots of books to read to children. The Children’s Book Council of Australia website and their Reading Time website are excellent resources for parents.

The importance of finding the best books to read to young children cannot be over stressed.

Reading them can be fun for parent and child.


Street Talk

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