9 First Nations children's picture books to support discussions around January 26, in the classroom.
Today, I would like to acknowledge the Yuggera people as the Traditional Owners of the beautiful land I am standing on today. From the mountains to the river, I open my heart and my eyes as I walk this land, listening, learning and caring for Country. I want to extend this respect to Elders; past, present and emerging and to all First Nations peoples reading this post today. We are all remembered here.
Just so you know, this post does contain sponsored content through the use of affiliate links, my proud partnerships and my own products and resources and I want to thank each of you for continuing to use my affiliate links to support the work I do. As you know, each blog post is based on my own experiences, opinions, and what I have been taught, and does not represent all First Nations peoples or Communities. Please remember that, connecting with your local First Nations Community is always the most respectful way for you to embed First Nations content specific to your area.
Discussions around January 26, 'Australia Day', in the classroom are not always easy but they are important. When we come from a place of truth and compassion, many things can be understood from another perspective, naturally, giving our students an opportunity to become critical thinkers and form their own opinions and ideas.
As teachers, it is our job to teach the next generation, not just academically but from the heart too. For many First Nations peoples and Communities, January 26 is a Day Of Mourning and marks the beginning of generations of pain and suffering for our families and Communities. A day that is not celebrated, but commemorated.
"We connect through the stories we share"
8 Ways Aboriginal Pedagogy of Western NSW 2012
Today I want to share with you, 9 First Nations children's books that you can use in your classrooms and homes, to embed First Nations perspectives into your teaching and to highlight a First Nations perspective and voice around the discussion of January 26.
My hope is that by sharing this post with you, you are able to take away at least a couple of books, that will help you to share a First Nations perspective and voice around January 26 in your classrooms. To go on to allow your students to listen to a voice that they may not have heard from before, and provide them with an opportunity to get them thinking in ways that they have may not have thought before either.
I will include a brief description of each book to give you a bit more of an insight into the text, along with an affiliate link to my good friend Deb from Riley Callie Resources - A First Nations owned small business, specialising in First Nations educational resources. Here you can buy any of the books listed below from her too, and support the work I do as well through using my affiliate links. Thank you so much in advance for all of your amazing support!
And lastly, don't forget to keep an eye out at the end of this post, where I will be sharing any freebies and related resource and teacher templates for you to use alongside these incredible First Nations children's books.
Took the Children Away - Archie Roach
Took The Children Away is a powerful children's book, that comes from the lived heartache and pain of what we know today as The Stolen Generations. Based on Archie Roach's iconic song 'Took The Children Away' from his debut album Charcoal Lane, is his children's picture illustrated by his late wife, Ruby Hunter. Took The Children Away is an exceptional resource for year 3, 4, 5, and 6 and is a perfect for your English and History programs.
Day Break - Amy McQuire
If you are a Foundation (kindy / prep) to Year 6 teacher looking to teach your students about January 26, promote reconciliation in your classroom, and embed First Nations perspectives, then I honestly can't recommend Day Break enough.
Day Break is filled with stunning illustrations by Matt Chun that hug the truth - telling narrative of the very talented Darumbal and South Sea Islander author, Amy McQuire. And together, they share an engaging and powerfully gentle story of a family's resilience and strength when journeying back to Country on January 26.
Although Day Break is labelled as a children's book, don't be mistaken. The depth of Day Break offers an unparalleled opportunity for all readers to reflect and be a part of the path to reconciliation. And in particular, with the first few pages in mind, Day Break will naturally get you reflecting on; what and how you were taught about January 26 when you were at school, the influence this had on your understanding and perspective, and how you plan to teach your students about January 26 going forward.
Kunyi - Kunyi June Anne McInerney
Kunyi was released in June of this year and to say this its release was one of the most anticipated First Nations children's books in the Australian teaching community of 2021, would have to be an understatement! As always, Magabala Books have truly delivered in bringing to life, Aunty Kunyi June Anne McInerney's story of 60 pages, filled with intricate acrylic on canvas paintings (except for 'Bath time', oil on canvas) which were showcased as a part of her standout exhibition 'My Paintings Speak For Me' through Country Art SA . 'to help heal the affected families and provide truth-telling of Australia’s history' Kunyi is a hard cover First Nations children's book that shares a story of truth, strength and resilience, through the eyes and real life experiences of 4 year old Kunyi, who was taken from her mother and placed in the Oodnadatta Children's Home, in South Australia. Kunyi is perfect for students from year 2 to year 6 as explores the themes of the Stolen Generations, art, First Nations social life and customs, and Yankunytjatjara (Aboriginal language). And... as usual you can download the FREE Magabala Books Teacher Notes chocka block full matching lesson ideas, all completely linked to the Australian Curriculum and ready for you to embed straight into your program.
Open Your Heart To Country - Jasmine Seymour
A story of history, healing, knowing and belonging, Open Your Heart To Country is the poetically illustrated and powerfully written children's picture book, by the incredibly talented and proud Dharug woman, Jasmine Seymour needed in every classroom.
Open Your Heart To Country is perfect for years 2, 3 and 4 and will fit straight into your English and History programs seamlessly.
Finding our Heart - Thomas Mayor
Finding Our Heart is a powerful hardcover children's book about the Uluru Statement written by Torres Strait Islander man Thomas Mayor and illustrated by Dhungatti man Blak Douglas. Finding Our Heart is a book of depth and many levels, and is perfect for Foundation through to year 6.
Somebody's Land - Adam Goodes & Ellie Laing
Somebody's Land is a stunningly gentle First Nations children's book, that shares Australia's true history. It allows children as young as 4 years old, to celebrate the richness and beauty of life and culture, of First Nations peoples and communities. While giving students and children an opportunity to grasp an understanding of the importance of land, Country and place to First Nations peoples, to develop a respect of why the term terra nullius, was the beginning of so much devastation.
Through storytelling, Somebody's Land, is truly such a natural way for our students and children, to acknowledge the pain of the past, and to then find ways to walk respectfully as one, together into the future. Somebody's Land is not just simply a children's book, but a conversation needed in every classroom!
We Are Australians - Duncan Smith & Nicole Godwin
We Are Australians is a hardcover First Nations children's book with a deep message. Written by First Nations author Duncan Smith and multi-award winning author Nicole Godwin, illustrated by proud Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Warung man Jandamurra Cadd. We Are Australians is a wonderful resource for Early childhood classrooms through to year 4, that will create many connections and conversations with your students around citizenship, January 26 and Australian history.
Sorry Day - Coral Vass illustrated by Dub Leffler
Sorry Day is a powerfully written and illustrated children's book that shares with your students; the past wrongs endured by First Nations peoples, families and Communities as a result of the Stolen Generations and a 'willingness to make things right'.
Story Doctors - Boori Monty Pryor illustrated by Rita Sinclair
Story Doctors is a stunningly powerful and poetic hardcover children's book written by Juru and Kunggandji man Boori Monty Pryor and illustrated by Rita Sinclair. Story Doctors is a book of great depth, heart and history with a calling to listen and hear.
Story Doctors and is perfect for year 3 through to year 6 and beyond.
Matching resources & freebies
To read more about each of these titles, please head over to my books page. Here you will find matching teaching notes along with a free scannable book label for each book and specific links to First Nations Counties on the AIATSIS Indigenous map of Australia.
You can also buy the physical map through Riley Callie Resource too, which I would highly recommend having in your classroom as a reference point.
Scannable book labels
This massive bundle is free for you to download from my Freebie Library. Just simply download, print off the labels and stick them in your books, so you can scan each one to have all the info you need about it fast and simple while you are teaching.
Teacher templates and resources
If you love children's books then you will adore these 100% editable templates ready for you to customise and mould to your classroom and students needs. All of these and more are available in my Teacher Templates store and also in my Unlimited Library, where you can have complete access to all of my templates for one yearly price.
To see all of the templates available, head over to the ever-growing Teacher Templates page, where you can buy each of these individually, or if you love saving money, sign up for the Unlimited Library where you have complete access to all of the templates for one yearly price.
Don't have Canva, no worries!
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If you are not a teacher or if you want to use Canva for business or other purposes, feel free to use my Canva Pro affiliate link to score yourself a free trial of Canva Pro and see if you love it as much as I do. I always like to try things out before I fully commit to buying them but I just know you will adore all that this incredible platform has to offer you and your little learners!
Free Community Email List
If you are a part of my free Community Email List at the time of this blog post being published, then you can find the link to this post and the Freebie Library in your inbox for you to enjoy. If you would like to receive future resources, templates and posts to your inbox then you can join my FREE Community Email List by clicking here. Our Community is growing every day and as an added bonus you will get access to all of my freebies in my Freebie Library forever too.
Thank you and comments
I hope you have enjoyed this post and collection of books as much as I have enjoyed creating it for you. I would love to hear in the comments of what books you love from this collection and which ones you would like to add to your classroom library too.
Thank you so much for spending this time with me and as always, happy embedding!