I have had the most wonderful time over the last little while as part of the judging panel for the Bookstagang Best Aussie Picture Books of 2020 list.
As well as reading a whole bunch of amazing books (more on them later!) I have had the chance to get to know some wonderful Australian Bookstagrammers, who are just as excited to talk kids’ books for hours as I am! Most of the action has happened over on Instagram, but I thought I’d share our list here – I think it makes a great gift guide if you’re looking for beautiful picture books to gift these holidays.
But first, let me tell you a bit about the Bookstagang! The Bookstagang is an association of kid lit Bookstagrammers around the world who gather to support and share exceptional picture books. Last year the North American crew released a list of their favourite picture books of the year, and this year our Aussie contingent was invited to join the fun. There were 8 of us on the team – you can see everyone’s Instagram names in the photo above, and pop over to Read With River to find out more about each of the judges. Now let’s get on with the lists =)
Such a fantastic group of books! Actually, pretty much everything we considered was amazing and it was sooooo hard to pick winners! The hardest, I think, was the non-fiction section – all the books were gorgeous, and there is such a range of types of book, from historical narratives to encyclopaedia style reference booksm to books about feelings. This one was so hard to narrow down that couldn’t resist sharing a couple of extras!
Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather – Stephanie Owen Reeder & Tania McCartney, NLA Publishing
This is a beautifully illustrated book full of cool facts about the weather – my almost 7 year old is really into this sort of book at the moment, where she can read it on her own and tell us all about what she has learned.
This Girl Can! and This Boy Can! – Cori Brooke, Five Mile Press
This is another one my daughter really connected with. I loved that it was empowering but also had a feeling of fun and was lovely to read aloud – plus the illustrations are gorgeous and inclusive.
Finding Our Heart: A Story About the Uluru Statement for Young Australians – Thomas Mayor & Blak Douglas, Hardie Grant Egmont
This book for kids is a perfect companion to Mayor’s non-fiction book for adults. I love the simple text, which has an open and engaging feel, and the message of hope about the future that comes through. It is a really lovely call to action to our young people, and one that adults can definitely learn from too.
The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book – Jennifer Cossins, Lothian Children’s Books
I’m maybe a bit biased here, as I have been a huge fan of Jennifer Cossin’s art for nearly 10 years, so having a bunch of her sweet illustrations in a book is a bit exciting! This is another one my daughter loved picking information out of to share with us – she had her nose stuck in it for weeks after it arrived!
How much fun was that?! I was honestly blown away by all the amazing books we got to look at and review – I mean, I knew we had fantastic Aussie picture books, but seeing them all together like this was really cool. I’m super proud of our local writers and illustrators and publishers for producing all these gorgeous books for us to love with our kids! And I’m so grateful to have had the chance to be part of the Aussie Bookstagang and get to know some fantastic fellow book lovers!
I hope our list helps out if you’re looking for some gorgeous local books to gift! Do share your faves in the comments!