Books to help discuss the bushfire crisis with children

At our recent Wildlife Victoria fundraiser event, Readings children’s book specialist Angela Crocombe, chatted to Professor Harriet Hiscock, Director of Health Service Research Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital, about how to use stories to talk to kids about this summer’s bushfires. Here, are some of our best recommendations for books can help start conversations about this topic.


Fire by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley

Two of Australia’s most respected children’s books creators come together in this lyrical and atmospheric picture book. A fire sweeps through the dry Australian landscape, causing residents to flee and firefighters to move into place. French’s spare rhyming text and Whatley’s painterly illustrations are extremely effective in taking the reader on a journey through the destructive impact of the fire, and into recovery and regeneration.

For ages 4 and up.


All the Dear Little Animals by Ulf Stark

Three bored kids start their own business, Funerals Ltd, burying, eulogising and mourning all the dead animals they can find – fish, mice, bees, various bits of roadkill… Esther digs the holes, Puttie cries, and our hands-off narrator contributes poems. This delightfully off-beat little book uses play and humour to talk about death, of animals and humans, of sadness and grief, and of beginnings and endings too. All the Dear Little Animals would make a great conversation starter with kids worried about death, or sensitive to animal losses.

For ages 6 and up.


The House on the Mountain by Ella Holcombe & David Cox

When a firestorm threatens their home, a family must move quickly to protect themselves. This moving picture book shows a family with three kids experiencing a bushfire, its aftermath, and the long process of healing. The House on the Mountain doesn’t brush over the terror and devastation of bushfires, but is also offers hope by showing how communities band together and rebuild over time. Author Ella Holcombe experience the full impact of the 2009 Black Saturday fires, and writes with great sensitivity for young readers. This longer picture book format is suitable for older readers.

For ages 7 and up.


Ash Road by Ivan Southall

This Australian classic by the much-lauded Ivan Southall was first published in 1965, won prestigious awards, and still stands as an evocative adventure story today. It’s hot, dry and sweaty on Ash Road, where teenagers Graham, Harry and Wallace are getting their first taste of independence, camping, just the three of them. When they accidentally light a bushfire, no one would have guessed how far it would go. All along Ash Road, fathers go off to fight the fires and mothers help in the first aid centres. The children of Prescott are left alone, presumed safe, until it’s the fire itself that reaches them, and they are forced to face a major crisis with only each other and the two elderly men left in their care.

For ages 10 and up.


47 Degrees by Justin D'Ath

When temperatures soar to 47 degrees one hot summer day, 12-year-old Zeelie hopes the nearby bushfires everyone’s talking about aren’t heading towards her family’s new home in Flowerdale. When Zeelie’s mother and brother make a dash to the city to deal with her brother’s suspected broken arm, Zeelie is left home with her father – and a forgotten phone. Tension builds as power and communication go down, the daytime sky turns dark with smoke, and a change in wind direction brings the deafening roar of the fire directly into their path. This is a tense and fast-paced read; D'ath lost his home in the Black Saturday fires, and his story feels very, very real.

For ages 10 and up.

You can find more recommendations by browsing the collections below.

The House on the Mountain

The House on the Mountain

David Cox, Ella Holcombe

$24.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...