ECA’s top children’s books of 2018

Thinking of a gift for a young child? Trying to recommend a book for a parent or family member? Or are you simply looking to stock your early childhood shelves with picture books to help you respond to those awkward questions young children ask? Here are some of our favourites, recommended by your early childhood peers and colleagues and quality assured by the ECA Publications Committee.

I’m Australian Too
By Mem Fox and Ronojoy Ghosh

Who can go past a picture book from award-winning author Mem Fox! ‘I’m Australian Too’ illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh, celebrates the unique multicultural heritage of being and belonging in Australia. It joins Fox’s much-loved Possum Magic and more than 20 other Australian picture book classics. Make sure you have ‘I’m Australian too’ on your shelf.

Napangardi’s Bush Tucker Walk
By Lyndall Stavrou and Jann Forge

Back these books up with ‘Napangardi’s Bush Tucker Walk’ with its highly engaging, quintessentially Australian stories. Teacher Lyndall Stavrou draws on her experience teaching at Mungkarta school in the Northern Territory and the bushtucker traditions of the local community. Weaving into the text traditional words for animals and bushtucker —from Alywarre, the language of Mungkarta and other places in the NT—this is a brilliant book to engage students and continue learning about our Australia’s First Peoples and
cultures.

 

You, Me and Empathy
By Jayneen Sanders Illustrated by Sofia Cardoso

‘You, me and empathy’ is a hugely popular title with educators and carers this year. It uses beautiful illustrations, verse and the delightful character of Quinn to explore and model empathy with young children. Complete with discussion questions for families, parents, caregivers and educators it also has suggestions for activities to promote empathy and kindness.

 

My Feelings Matter
By Sara Stace

Described as a book for little people with big feelings, author of My Feelings Matter, Sara Stace, says she wrote the book for her son Hudson who has ‘High functioning Autism and communicating feelings is something that we have had to work on together. Through working on this he has thrived! Sharing how he is feeling has not come easy and has been the cause of many hard days over the years.’ Sara believes children want to share their feelings but often ‘just don’t have the skills on how to start’. This is a book designed with parents, families and educators in mind.
The images and simple illustrations created by Tamara Hackett help children become familiar with different feelings and you can flip through the book to help a child identify feelings, where they might otherwise struggle in this area or if they are unable to communicate verbally.

 

Karana: The Story of the Father Emu 
By Uncle Joe Kirk, Greer Casey and Sandi Harrold

‘Karana’ comes recommended by educational leader and ECA former president Judy Radich. With rhyme and humour this is a delightful story says Judy about Karana, the father emu who cares for his chicks and teaches them everything they need to know to survive in the bush.
These are my chicks. I love them a lot …
I will stay with them, no matter what!

 

Mad Magpie
By Gregg Dreise

On the topic of Australian iconic birds—and the Magpie did win Bird of the Year 2017!—Mad Magpie is a wonderful story written and illustrated by Gregg Dreise, a descendant of the Kamilaroi and Yuwalayaay people.

 

Feelings, empathy, bodies and boundaries have been hot topics in 2017 and 2018 both here in Australia and overseas. Stuart Shanker’s message of self-regulation skills for adults and children and his reframing of children’s behaviours were big hits with educators at the ECA National Conference in September. Body awareness and consent featured in workshops including by Deanne Carson and others at the conference. Some great children’s books to continue learning about these themes come recommended by ECA:

 

No means No!
By Jayneen Sanders

Another picture book by Jayneen Sanders, ‘No means no!’  follows a strong young girl with clear ideas who voices her views about her body and personal boundaries. Read it with children aged three to nine years as a springboard for discussions on their choices and rights. Its 26 full-colour pages come with a note to readers and discussion questions.

 

 

Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect
By Jayneen Sanders Illustrated by Sarah Jennings

‘Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect’ by Jayneen Sanders is another with strong recommendations for early childhood educators. ‘What a brilliant book!’ says Clinical Neuropsychologist, Dr Marnie Cumner, who said ‘My girls are 3 and 5 and they loved it and understood it well.’ The concepts of respect and consent are explained so clearly, with relevant examples for kids.  Should be a mandatory topic in schools. Can’t recommend this book highly enough!

Parenting expert, father of six and author, Dr Justin Coulson says it is a good book to recommend to families: ‘sensitive, yet straight to the point … the perfect book to start critical conversations between parent and child about consent and respect.’

 

Go Home, Cheeky Animals!
By Johanna Bell, illustrated by Dion Beasley

Go Home, CHEEKY ANIMALS! by Johanna Bell won the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Early Childhood Book of the Year 2017 for its outstanding content and style for young children. Funny, uplifting and beautifully written.

 


While you can find these books in many stores, all of them have been reviewed by and are available from ECA. When you purchase from the ECA Shop, you are supporting ECA to be a voice for young children. View our quality-assured resources for educators and parents on the ECA Shop, here

 

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Clare McHugh

Clare McHugh is Early Childhood Australia's (ECA) Strategic Communications Executive, working on projects that support ECA’s reputation as a trusted voice for young children, their families, educators and carers. Clare has been part of ECA's Learning Hub Team, managed ECA's Start Early. Respectful relationships for life project and ECA digital initiatives including the federally funded Digital Business Kit and Live Wires. Clare has been thinking and writing about children, family and social policy for a number of years, including for the Commonwealth Child Care Advisory Council and the Australian government.

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