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10 Classic Australian Picture Books to Introduce to Your Baby

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Today I would like to introduce Eva Lewis. Eva is blogger and editor at The Multitasking Woman. Eva will be sharing her 10 favourite classic Australian picture books to introduce to your baby that she has shared with her three-year-old daughter.

It’s never too early to start reading to your baby. They’ve been listening to your voice ever since they were in your womb! We are spoilt for choice when it comes to books for kids these days, but there are some favourite and classic Australian picture books to add to your ‘must read’ list, one is 102 years old and still a favourite! 

The benefits of reading to babies

If you’re wondering why it’s so important to read to babies when they can’t understand what you’re saying, you’re not alone. Carolyn Cates, a developmental psychologist and research assistant professor in the department of paediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Centre says, “Even though children may not be talking yet, that doesn’t mean they’re not learning.” 

While babies may not understand what you’re saying, reading to them is massively essential for their brain development. Raisingchildren.net.au explains that reading to babies can: 

  • help your baby get to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literacy skills
  • learn to value books and stories
  • spark your baby’s imagination and stimulate curiosity
  • help your child’s brain, social skills and communication skills develop
  • help your child learn the difference between ‘real’ and ‘make-believe.’
  • help your child understand change and new or scary events, and also the strong emotions that can go along with them.

Starting the reading journey from babyhood has a significant impact on a child’s life, so where do you start? Here are some books to start your reading journey, and add to your baby’s bookshelf.

Classic Australian Children’s Books For Babies

Possum Magic by Mem Fox, Illustrated by Julie Vivas

Published in 1983, this is still a favourite on many a family bookshelf and will continue to be.  Possum Magic is the story of Grandma Poss making the bush magic and the little possum Hush, invisible! But when Grandma Poss gets stuck because she can’t remember how to make Hush visible again, they have to go on a big search for the special food that will make Hush visible. The story follows their search across Australia to where they finally find the special food. Can you guess what Australian food it is?

Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughan, Illustrated by Pamela Lofts

Another 1980’s gem, Wombat Stew is about a clever dingo whose mouth salivates at the thought of Wombat Stew using the wombat he caught. But friends come to the wombat’s aid, the other bush animals. With some clever trickery, the wombat’s bush friends make the dingo use mud, flies, feathers, bugs and gumnuts in the stew instead, a most memorable stew indeed!

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddle Pie by May Gibbs

Initially published in 1918, The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddle Pie by renowned Australian children’s author May Gibbs has entertained generations of babies!  The magical illustrations alone are enough to engage little imaginations. In this story, Snugglepot is determined to see a human, but Cuddle Pie is adamant that it must only be in the distance. How close will they get to a human? This story is about an Australian bush adventure, both delightful and enduring.  

Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley

One of Jackie French’s most popular titles published in 2002, the Diary of a Wombat is about an unusually busy wombat. Usually, wombats are busy tucked up and sleeping, but this wombat is in business, the digging business! Not only that, but she is also a trainer and trains humans. She’s got it all down pat; she’s taught them to bring her carrots, oats or both. Between scratching, sleeping and eating, it’s such a busy schedule!

Magic Beach by Alison Lester

Originally published in 1990 and a book you might have in your childhood collection, Magic Beach is a favourite thanks to its fun rhymes and imaginary stories. Also illustrated by Alison, as you look through the illustrations you will see memories of your childhood – exploring rock pools, swimming, splashing, enjoying bonfires, fishing…this is one of those books that will sweep you away through both words and illustrations. 

Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles, Illustrated by Rod Clement

First published in 1988, Edward the Emu didn’t like the zoo anymore, there was nothing to do, nowhere to go, Edward was bored. He decided to try swimming with the seals next door, he lounges with the lions and tries to slither with the snakes. But is it all it’s cracked up to be or is being an Emu not that bad after all? 

The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall

You may have memories of watching Blinky Bill on television when you were younger. Published in 1934, Blinky Bill is Australia’s most famous (and mischievous) koala. Blinky Bill is one of those classics that you will recall from your childhood and thoroughly enjoy sharing with your children as well as it is a beautiful keepsake.  

The Rainbow Serpent by  Dick Roughsey, Illustrated by P Trezise

Published in 1992, this is the story of how The Rainbow Serpent pushed up the earth from underground to form enormous ridges, mountains and gorges. The way water meanders across the landscape like a snake while capturing the sun and reflecting light and colours, is also reflected in the story. The Rainbow Serpent is a story from the Dreamtime and a lovely introduction into the Aboriginal culture.  

Tiddalick: The Frog Who Caused A Flood by Robert Roennfeldt

Tiddalick was published in 1980 and is an Aboriginal Mythology legend. It’s a story about a very thirsty frog named Tiddalick; he woke up so thirsty one morning that he drank all the water from all of the lakes, rivers and billabongs. Everything was left empty and dry. The other animals have no water to drink so they had to come up with a plot to make Tiddalick laugh and spew the water out so it would fill the waterholes back up again.

Koala Lou by Mem Fox, Illustrated by Pamela Lofts

Published in 1988 (the ’80s created some classics), Koala Lou is a little cuddly koala who, over time and with more and more brothers and sisters coming into the picture, was worried that her mother didn’t love her anymore. While her mother was so busy, she came up with a plan to win back her mother’s attention and love. 

These classic Australian picture books have continued to be re-published since their initial publications because they are so well-loved. Whether it be for their rhyming text, illustrations or imaginative stories, they have all made their way into many hearts over the decades and are sure to continue to do the same in your family. 

You can read about another mum and daughter’s favourite toddler books. Consider a book rotation to continually spark excitement for each book.

Author Bio:

Eva Lewis is blogger and editor at The Multitasking Woman and a Copywriter and SEO Consultant at her own business Mandala Digital. Eva has fond memories of books from her childhood, and dressing up as a gum nut baby from May Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Best of all, she loves passing these treasures down to her three-year-old daughter. 

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