Award-Winning Australian Children's Authors & Books Work / Play / Leisure Suitable for stages: 0 - 3 Months, 3 - 6 Months, 6 - 12 Months, 12 - 18 Months, 18 - 24 Months
Updated 27 November 2022 How do you choose some great Australian books that you will love reading as much as your babies will love hearing?
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to picture books for early childhood from many amazing Australian authors. If you are looking for somewhere to start with your Australian book collection, the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) has been doing the hard work identifying and celebrating the best early childhood and picture books every year since 1945 - see the 2022 winners here. Amazon Au has the option to search for CBCA notable books if you are looking to buy one.
There are also other children's book and author awards that celebrate Australian authors and illustrators, including the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards which have a 0-3 years category - In 2022, Hello World by Aura Parker won the best book for the 0-3 category. The CBCA yearly literary awards are the biggest in Australia for Children's books. In addition to the main awards, the CBCA Queensland branch (pre-covid) ran the Books I Love Best Yearly (BILBY awards), and the ACT branch had its Canberra's Own Outstanding List (COOL Awards).
When looking through the winning books through the years, several authors keep appearing on the best-of lists. To make things easy, within this article, I have grouped books by author first and then discussed the remaining award-winning books. The books mentioned can be read to children of any pre-reading age and will also entertain early readers.
Notable Australian Authors
Alison Lester is one of Australia's most popular and bestselling creators of children's books.
She has won many awards, including the 2016 Dromkeen award for outstanding achievement in the creation of Children's and young adult literature, the 2005 Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year Award for Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia.
Other CBCA awards include:
- Magic Beach (Picture Book of the Year Shortlisted 1991)
- Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2001)
- Noni the Pony (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2011, watch Noni the Pony being read aloud), Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach (Early Childhood Honour Book 2015) & Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2019)
- Sophie Scott Goes South (Picture Book Honour Book 2013)
- Kissed by the Moon (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2014)
- My Dog Bigsy (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2016),
- The Very Noisy Baby (Early Childhood Book Honour Book 2018) - Also available in a book and rattle gift set
- Tricky's Bad Day (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2019)
Other popular titles include Imagine & My Farm.
Little ones will love reading the Baby Days collection of 4 board books with all the things little children can do in a day. Includes Bibs and Boots, Bumping and Bouncing, Crashing and Splashing & Happy and Sad.
Books were hugely important to Libby Gleeson as a child and have remained the focus of her adult life. Libby’s fiction and picture books have won multiple awards, including CBCA short-listings and wins, State Premier’s Literary Awards, the Bologna Ragazzi Award in 2000, and the Prime Minister’s Award in 2013. For her services to children’s literature, Libby has been honoured with the Lady Cutler Award (1997), Member of the Order of Australia (2007), the 2011 Dromkeen Medal for outstanding achievement in the creation of Australian children's and young adult literature and the Nan Chauncy Award (2015).
Libby has collaborated with many different illustrators, including Ann James, to write Shutting the Chooks In, which was shortlisted in the Early Childhood Book of the Year 2004. Many of her books have been illustrated by Freya Blackwood. For their first book together, Amy & Louis, won the CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year in 2007. Their other successful collaborations include Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House (Early Childhood Honour Book 2010), Look, A Book! (Picture Book of the Year Shortlisted Book 2012), Banjo and Ruby Red (Early Childhood Book of the Year Honour Book 2014) & Go to Sleep, Jessie! (Early Childhood Book of the Year, 2015). Mum Goes to Work, illustrated by Leila Rudge, about what mums do at work while their child is at daycare, was short-Listed for the 2015 Speech Pathology Book Of The Year Award, 3-5 Years Category and the 1993 Prime Minister’s Multicultural Award, Picture Book Category.
Libby has just released Soon, illustrated by Jedda Robaard, a delightful story that perfectly captures the excitement of waiting for the arrival of a new baby.
Nick Bland was born in the Yarra Valley of Australia in 1973. He wanted to be a cartoonist and a writer from a very young age. In 1996, he took a job at a book store, and decided to write and illustrate children's books. His first book, A Monster Wrote Me a Letter was published in Australia in 2005. Since then, he has written many successful and award-winning books including The Very Cranky Bear series, King Pig (Picture Book of the Year Honour 2014), The Runaway Hug, Illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2012)
The Wrong Book (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2010) is a book all about Nicholas Ickle, but he keeps getting interrupted by characters who have wandered into the wrong book. The sequel The Unscary Book (2018) is Nicholas' attempt at showing us a book full of very scary things, however much to his frustration, the most unscary things keep appearing.
Mem Fox is Australia's most highly regarded picture-book author. Her first book, Possum Magic, is the bestselling children's book ever in Australia, with over three and a half million sales. And in the USA Time for Bed and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge have each sold over a million copies. Time for Bed is on Oprah's list of the twenty best children's books of all time. She was recognised for outstanding achievement in the creation of Australian children's and young adult literature in 1990 when she won the Dromkeen Medal.
Mem Fox has written over thirty picture books for children and five non-fiction books for adults, including the best-selling Reading Magic, aimed at very young children's parents. Her book Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes beautifully illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, was on the New York Times bestseller lists for 16 weeks in 2008/2009.
CBCA award-winning books include, Where is the Green Sheep?, Illustrated by Judy Horacek (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2005), I'm Australian Too, Illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh (Early Childhood Book of the Year Shortlisted 2018) & Baby Bedtime, Illustrated by Emma Quay (Early Childhood Book of the Year Shortlisted 2014).
Pamela Allen is a phenomenon in the world of children's literature. Many of her titles have won prestigious awards and commendations including Who Sank the Boat? which won Picture Book of the Year in 1983. She has earned classic status through the enduring popularity of her stories with the very young.
Pamela's books are full of the music of language; they are 'fragments of theatre', designed to be read aloud and shared between an adult and a child. Eight of Pamela's titles were adapted for the stage by Patch Theatre Company, and Grandpa and Thomas won the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award: Early Childhood in 2004 and The Potato People was named an Honour Book in the same category in 2003, and Grandpa and Thomas and the Green Umbrella was shortlisted for the same award in 2007, as was Shhh! Little Mouse in 2008. Is Your Grandmother a Goanna? won a 2008 Speech Pathology of Australia Book of the Year Award, as did Our Daft Dog Danny in 2010.
Bob Graham is a Kate Greenaway-winning author-illustrator who has written and illustrated many acclaimed children's picture books including How to Heal a Broken Wing (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2009), Max, Jethro Byrde: Fairy Child and April Underhill: Tooth Fairy. His 2011 title, A Bus Called Heaven, is endorsed by Amnesty International UK and was the winner of the 2012 Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Award - a prize Bob has won an unprecedented six times. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Other award-winning books include Silver Buttons (Picture Book of the Year Honour Book 2014), Buffy: An Adventure Story (Picture Book of the Year 2000), Queenie the Bantam (Picture Book of the Year Shortlisted 1998), Let's Get a Pup! (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2002), Home in the Rain (Picture Book of the Year 2017), Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten (Picture Book of the Year 1993), Greetings from Sandy Beach (Picture Book of the Year 1991), Grandad's Magic (Picture Book of the Year Honour Book 1990)
Aaron Blabey has written many well-loved, best-selling books for children. He has around five million books in print and is the creator of three hugely successful series for children - the New York Times Bestseller The Bad Guys, Pig the Pug and Thelma the Unicorn.
Aaron's books have won many awards including nine REAL Awards, an INDIE Book Award for Children's Book of the Year, a Children's Book Council of Australia - Book of the Year Award, a NSW Premiers Literary Award for Children's Literature, two Australian Book Design Awards and a Children's Peace Literature Award.
Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley won the CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year for 2008 and Pig the Pug was a Early Childhood Book of the Year Shortlisted in 2015.
Other Great Books include: Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas, Busting!, I Need a Hug, Thelma the Unicorn.
The Pig the Pug book collections are a great place to start to enjoy the book series in bulk.
Jackie French & Illustrator Bruce Whatley
Bruce Whatley is one of Australia's most highly regarded and talented authors and illustrators for children, both here and internationally. Since 1992 Bruce has written and/or illustrated over 90 picture books. In 2002 he paired with author Jackie French and illustrated Diary of a Wombat, which was the start of an extraordinary creative collaboration.
Jackie was the Australian Children's Laureate for 2014/15 and the 2015 Senior Australian of the Year. She is also a historian, ecologist, dyslexic, and a passionate worker for literacy, the right of all children to read, and the power of books.
Jackie's writing career spans 25 years, 148 wombats, over 140 books, 36 languages, 3,721 bush rats, and over 60 awards in Australia and overseas.
What started with Diary of a Wombat which won Picture Book of the Year Honour in 2003, has now grown into a collection of adorable wombat books including Christmas Wombat, Baby Wombat's Week, Wombat Goes to School, Grandma Wombat & Happy Birthday Wombat.
Other notable and award-winning books include Flood (Picture Book of the Year Honour Book 2012), Fire (Picture Book Shortlisted Book 2015) & Pete, the Sheep.
Other notable books by various Authors by Year
- My Friend Fred by Frances Watts (Illustrated by A. Yi) (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2020)
- I Need a Parrot by Chris McKimmie (Picture Book of the Year 2020)
- Baby Business by Jasmine Seymour (New Illustrator Award 2020)
- Three by Stephen Michael King (Honour Book for the Picture book of the Year 2020 & BILBY Picture Book Winner 2020)
- When Billy was a Dog by Kirsty Murray (Illustrated by Karen Blair) (Early Childhood Honour Book 2020 BILBY Early Childhood Book Winner 2020)
- Goodbye House, Hello House by Margaret Wild (Illustrated by Ann James) (Early Childhood Honour Book 2020)
- One Runaway Rabbit by David Metzenthen (Illustrated by Mairead Murphy) (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2020)
- Heads and Tails: Insects by John Canty (Early Childhood Honour Book 2019)
- Here Comes Stinkbug! by Tohby Riddle (Early Childhood Honour Book 2019)
- Hark, It's Me, Ruby Lee! by Lisa Shanahan (Illustrated by Binny) (Early Childhood Honour Book 2018)
- Rodney Loses It! by Michael Gerard Bauer (Illustrated by Chrissie Krebs) (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2018)
- A Walk in the Bush by Gwyn Perkins (Picture Book of the Year 2018)
- Go Home, Cheeky Animals! by Johanna Bell (Illustrated by Dion Beasley) (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2017)
- Mr Huff by Anna Walker (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2016)
- Perfect by Danny Parker (Illustrated by Freya Blackwood) (Honour Book Early Childhood Book of the Year 2016)
- The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson (Illustrated by Laura Wood) (Honour Book Early Childhood Book of the Year 2016)
- Scary Night by Lesley Gibbes (Illustrated by Stephen Michael King) (Honour Book Early Childhood Book of the Year 2015 & Shortlisted Speech Pathology Australia's Book of the Year Awards - 3-5 years 2015)
- I'm a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian (Illustrated by Ann James) (Early Childhood Honour Book 2014)
- The Terrible Suitcase by Emma Allen (Illustrated by Freya Blackwood) (Early Childhood Book of the Year 2013)
- The Pros & Cons of Being a Frog by Sue de Gennaro (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2013)
- Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2012)
- The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky (Illustrated by Andrew Joyner) (Early Childhood Shortlisted Book 2010)
A great children's book will engage your child, sparking their imagination and thoughtful questions and unleash your own creativity and joy in re-telling the story and exploring the themes in the book. Some books are funny; some are inspiring; some take you to another world; others inspire thought and teach life lessons. All books gift you and your child something to take away. There will also be favourites that get read over and over again, and there is always “just one more book” to explore.
Shop for Children's books at Amazon Au
For more on reading to your children, please also check out our other articles Reading with your baby, Reading with Your older baby & toddler & Preparing for sleep
Written by Anna Noud
Anna is a mother of 2 boys and an Occupational Therapist, holding a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy with Honours from the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. A lifelong learner with a passion for everything health-related and a drive to improve the lives of Mothers and the babies who will be the leaders of our future. The most important asset we have in this life is our health, well-being, and happiness. Writing for BabyPeg is a passion project alongside life tripping in the caravan, parenting, and working as an OT to help people with disabilities fulfill their potential. Find me on LinkedIn or message me through the BabyPeg Facebook page.
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