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6 Kids books about indigenous culture that your child should read

Sarah is a lifestyle writer and travel blogger who can often be found loitering in a cafe with a pot of tea and a good book. Over the last eight years Sarah has lived and worked abroad in the United Kingdom, Spain and Colombia and has tr...

Add these books about indigenous Australia to your child's book collection

From SheKnows Australia
Dreamtime stories from Australian indigenous culture are some of the most exciting stories to hear as a child. I remember having The Rainbow Serpent read to me growing up and being transfixed by the idea of a snake creating the world's rivers. These stories are sure to ignite your child's imagination.

1. When the Snake Bites the Sun

Add these books about indigenous Australia to your child's book collection

Image: ABC Shop

When the Snake Bites the Sun is a book compiled by Pamela Lofts based on the story told by David Mowaljarlai of the Ngarinyin people. The fable was originally told to children in the Kimberley region in Western Australia before being turned into an imaginative children's book. The illustrations in the book were inspired by a painting created to tell the story, while Mowaljarlai said of the book, "We want our children to see the daylight and the sun go down on our land, the home of the Dreamtime, and to live there to their old age and really understand their culture."

2. Dunbi the Owl

Add these books about indigenous Australia to your child's book collection

Image: The Rainbow Serpent

Dunbi the Owl is a story originally told by Daisy Utemorrah of the Worora tribe in Derby, Western Australia. The story follows Dunbi the owl, who is mistreated by a group of kids. Wanalirri punishes the group for harming the owl, which results in a flood. Only two people survive and create a new tribe and are forbidden to harm owls because of what happened in the past. The colourful images from Dunbi the Owl were based on paintings originally created to tell the story.

3. Warnayarra: The Rainbow Snake

Add these books about indigenous Australia to your child's book collection

Image: The Rainbow Serpent

Warnayarra: The Rainbow Snake is a collection of stories told by the senior boys class at Lajamanu School. The unique local stories are combined with images adapted from original pictures drawn from children from the bilingual school, where they are taught their own language, Walpiri, as well as English. Painter, Abie Jangala, said of the stories, "Since we came here, Lajamanu has changed a lot. Children have been born here and that means their Dreaming place is here. Our law and our ceremonies are still important to us; it is the law of Walyajarra, the people who lived and died thousands of years ago, and we cannot change that."

4. The Echidna and the Shade Tree

Add these books about indigenous Australia to your child's book collection

Image: Amazon

This picture book tells the story of how the echidnas got their spikes and explains why they shuffle when they walk. According to the Dreamtime story, the echidna was punished for trying to take the giant shade tree from the rest of the animals. A boomerang was thrown at his feet and spears where thrown into his back, which is why the echidna still walks with a limp and has spikes growing out of his back.

5. How the Birds Got Their Colours

Add these books about indigenous Australia to your child's book collection

Image: The Rainbow Serpent

How the Birds Got Their Colours is a story that not only describes the differences in appearance of birds, but also their subtle differences in character, as well. The parrot is so different to the crow, for example, who just stands by and watches, not getting involved. This book follows a dove who injures herself. But ultimately, that injury becomes the reason why birds have different colours. Her swollen foot becomes pierced by a parrot and colours splash out onto all the surrounding birds. Except the crow, of course, because he was away minding his own business.

6. How the Kangaroos Got Their Tails

Add these books about indigenous Australia to your child's book collection

Image: The Rainbow Serpent

Kangaroos can get caught up in conflicts, too, and as a result of one disagreement, all kangaroos now have tails. In How the Kangaroos Got Their Tails, two kangaroos find themselves squabbling over bush honey. They become so annoyed with each other that they throw sticks at one another, which get stuck. This Dreamtime book is based on a story told by George Mung Mung Lirrmiyarri, of the Kija people and told to indigenous communities in Warmun, Western Australia.

What are some of your favourite kids books about indigenous culture? Share your thoughts and memories in the comments section below.

More on indigenous culture

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Australia Day or Invasion Day: How should we commemorate the day?
10 Myths busted about Aboriginal culture by SBS' First Contact

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