The HOT List: The Top 10 Best Australian Children’s Books

Happy Australia Day! Today is the perfect excuse to celebrate all things Australian – culturally, socially, environmentally, historically and geographically.

Sharing beautiful books about Australia with young readers provides us with an opportunity to engage them in all aspects of that celebration – the language, the landscape, the beauty and the diversity.

Thanks to my friends at The Kids Bookshop, here’s a list of their recommended Top 10 best Australian books for readers aged 0-6.

Waddle Giggle Gargle

1.Pamela Allen’s Waddle Giggle Gargle is ideal for reading aloud with pre-schoolers. Magpies are so much a part of our everyday life here in Australia and their birdsong is unique. Have some fun with the language and the repetitive text while you pick out the elements of the story and illustrations that are familiar to the reader and their everyday surroundings.

Top 10 books 1

2. Kick with My Left Foot celebrates the importance of football in a young Indigenous boy’s life and the excitement of preparing to play his first game. No matter what your preferred football code is, it is an iconic aspect of most Australians lives. That said, perhaps AFL is the most iconic code of all – particularly for Indigenous Australians. Explore the possibility of a different landscape from the urban or regional landscapes your reader might inhabit.

3.  Mem Fox’s beautiful, Koala Lou in this list. Koala’s are so quintessentially Australian but the themes of family and a mother’s love are gorgeous and so important to us all.

4. Big Rain Coming by Katrina Germein gently raises the environmental issue of water, drought and survival in regional and remote areas of Australia. Ideal for initiating discussion with pre-schoolers and school-aged children who are living in more urban environments. Even on a more simplistic level, discussion around the ‘colour’ of the landscape and the mythical elements of the story are wonderful.

Spencer Visits Sydney

5. Explore the idea of being a tourist in your own city or discovering the highlights of another city in the country you live in: Visit Sydney through the eyes of a tourist in Spencer Visits Sydney.

Top 10 Books 2

6. This ‘look and find’ book on Melbourne, When You Go to Melbourne will uncover new and exciting aspects of this city landscape. Ideal for children who live in regional or remote areas of Australia or for children who are about to visit Melbourne.

7. The term ‘Yobbos’ is such a part of our Australian vernacular that it’s worth including Phillip Gwynne and Andrew Joyner’s funny, lively and great read-aloud book, Yobbos Do Yoga. There is so much to talk about in terms of where we live, how we live, families, tolerance and the idea of having a good time!

8. Did you grow up reading Snugglepot and Cuddlepie? There’s a board book version of these delightful gumnut characters. So Australian, so sweet and much more Australian than Teletubbies or Peppa Pig!

9. Oh and don’t forget this classic character.

blinky Bill


10. So many Australian families aspire to travel around this big beautiful country; to explore the richness of our landscape and cultural diversity and to share the delights of everything Australia has on offer. Alison Lester’s  Are We There Yet? Is the most wonderful adventure story – if you’ve been on a trip just like it, you’ll love the familiar elements of the journey and if you haven’t been on a trip just like it, you’ll love the idea of it…

A must-have for all households!

Are We There Yet

PS: Don’t forget these gems, especially at this time of year:

The Magic Beach

The Magic Beach by Alison Lester

Greetings from Sandy Beach

Greetings from Sandy Beach by Bob Graham

What are your favourite children’s books about Australia and being Australian?

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About Joyce Watts

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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