Kids books that highlight Australia’s unique wildlife

Australia is the home of so much valuable, unique and vulnerable wildlife. With recent bushfires highlighting the urgent need to protect and preserve our animal populations, here are some of our favourite children’s books that show love for Australian wildlife.


Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures by Tania McCartney

This attractive illustrated guide is the perfect introduction to Australia’s most unique animals, but also contains enough information about habitat, physical characteristics, feeding, breeding and conservation status to please the keenest young zoologists. Some of the animals covered are very familiar (koalas, crocodiles, Tasmanian devils), but readers can also learn about lesser-known animals like dugongs and the marsupial mole. Each animal or group of animals is featured in a double-page spread with McCartney’s sumptuous illustrations, fascinating facts, and knack for grabbing the attention with fun and snappy headings.

For ages 8 and up


Black Cockatoo by Carl Merrison & Hakea Hustler

This short and affecting novel was shortlisted for our Readings Children’s Book Prize last year and impressed everyone with its quiet power. Mia, a 13-year-old Jaru girl who lives in a remote community in the Kimberley region, cares for a dirrarn (black cockatoo) injured by her older brother Jy. As the cockatoo, Mia’s totem animal, slowly regains its strength, Mia’s confidence also grows. Black Cockatoo offers a close perspective on caring for injured wildlife, but also demonstrates the nuanced relationship that Mia’s community has with the animals around them, and the laws and practises that are followed. This story is illustrated beautifully in grayscale – moody, impressionistic images that capture the wild beauty and vitality of the black cockatoo.

For ages 10 and up


Ninja Bandicoots and Turbo-Charged Wombats by Hazel Flynn

Have a close look at some of Australia’s rarest and most lovable animals, and find out about the extraordinary efforts made by zookeepers, scientists and even ordinary citizens to conserve them. Each chapter looks at a different endangered animal (covering a broad swathe including Leadbeater’s Possums, Baw Baw Frogs, Orange-bellied Parrots. Guthega Skinks and Goodfellow’s Tree-kangaroos) and interviews the people who work with and try to understand and protect them. Readers can find out what’s odd and wonderful about each animal, enjoy funny anecdotes, learn fast facts and find out what threatens them. Most importantly, kids are given some practical and easy ways to help, which will help them feel inspired about how they can positively contribute to animal conservation efforts in Australia.

For ages 9 and up


Rivertime by Trace Balla

This charming junior graphic novel won the Readings Children’s Book Prize in 2015. Ten-year-old Clancy and his bird-watching Uncle Egg embark on an idyllic paddling trip on Australia’s Glenelg River. Clancy is initially worried about leaving his modern comforts behind, but he soon learns to tap into a slower sense of ‘rivertime’, and connect with the cornucopia of birds and wildlife around him. Name labels and sounds embellish Balla’s quirky illustrations of birds and animals, and a gentle sense of humour makes this a joy to read.

For ages 6 and up


A Hollow Is a Home by Abbie Mitchell & Astred Hicks

This fantastic book from CSIRO Publishing zooms in and takes a close and very detailed look at one habitat for Australian animals: the tree hollow. More than 340 species of Australian animals use hollows for shelter, nesting, raising babies and protection. Readers can find out how hollows are created, why they are threatened, meet scientists who spend their time hollow-hunting and, of course, learn all about hollow-dwelling animals such as gliders, microbats, snakes and frogs. A Hollow Is a Home uses photos, illustrations and diagrams to great effect, and contains lots of practical information for kids on how to spot hollows and create special habitats for hollow-dependent animals using nesting boxes.

For ages 8 and up


Turtle Trackers by Samantha Wheeler

Ten-year-old Isaac works hard helping his single mum run a caravan park on the Queensland coast. Isaac loves the local wildlife and is desperate to volunteer as a Turtle Tracker – watching over the sea turtle eggs and hatchlings on the beach. But it’s the busy Christmas holiday season, a famous travel reviewer is staying at the caravan park, and Isaac struggles to find a way to contribute. Turtle Trackers explores family, grief, responsibility and community while seamlessly informing the reader about the threats posed by introduced animals, plastic bags and human activity. This is a wonderful story for empathetic kids who are interested in hands-on animal conversation.

For ages 9 and up


Our Birds: Nilimurrungu Wayin Malanynha by Siena Stubbs

This awesome and extensive pocket guide to birds was created by teenager Siena Stubbs. A passionate wildlife photographer, Stubbs took the photos for this book on her walks around her hometown of Yirrkala in North-east Arnhem Land. Each double-page spread contains full-colour photos of the bird and its habitat, and really engaging text that combines personal stories, insights, knowledge, the English and Yolŋu names of the birds and their Yolŋu moiety. (In Yolŋu culture, everything, from a body of water to a specific type of tree or bird, is divided into two moieties: Yirritja and Dhuwa.) Kids will love learning that the Yolŋu bird names are based on the sounds they make!

For ages 9 and up

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

A Hollow is a Home

A Hollow is a Home

Abbie Mitchell, Astred Hicks

$29.99Buy now

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