The Top 25 Kids Reads According to WIRE Staff

For this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week we chatted to some of our WIRE staff about their favourite kids and young adult books. Check out some of our top picks below!

Younger readers

‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle

Stunning illustrations which share a lovely story about, you guessed it, a very hungry caterpillar!  As a bonus, kids learn about nature and the evolution of a butterfly. 

‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ by Leslea Newman and Laura Cornell

“For the most part, this is a book about happy family life and what to expect at preschool, brought to life in Laura Cornell’s colorful, appealing illustrations. At Heather’s preschool, there are all kinds of different families — two mommies, two daddies, one of each, step-parents, a grandparent raising a child, siblings and no siblings, and so on.”

‘Louise Builds a Boat’ by Louise Pfanner

This is a lovely, simple book which my three-year-old enjoys. Beautiful illustrations are paired with minimalist text, seeing the only character of the book, Louise, build herself a boat to sail the world. It’s excellent to be able to read a book with an active, adventurous girl driving the story.

A House for Everyone by Jo Hirst

“In this era of gender revolution, A House for Everyone reminds us that gender isn’t two boxes but a rainbow with room for children of every gender. Jo Hirst’s brilliant book teaches all our children about gender identity and gender expressions while celebrating gender acceptance — let’s bring it to every classroom and household.”

‘Magic Beach’ by Alison Lester

Visit a perfect beach where you can swim, surf, splash through the waves, build sandcastles, beachcomb, explore rock-pools, muck about in boats, fish from the jetty, and build a bonfire under the stars. Visit Magic Beach, where adventure begins…

The Cat in the Hat’ by Dr. Seuss

Poor Sally and her brother. It’s cold and wet and they’re stuck in the house with nothing to do… until a giant cat in a hat shows up, transforming the dull day into a madcap adventure and almost wrecking the place in the process! You can’t go past this classic!

Kids aged 48

‘Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine’ by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu

This award-winning picture book celebrates Ada’s passion for numbers and invention and shows how she weathered difficulties, including her mother’s early divorce from her father, the English poet Lord Byron, and an early illness that left her on crutches. Fantastic read for kids interested in STEM!

The ‘Hey Jack!’ series by Sally Rippin

Hey Jack! is a series of illustrated chapter books for reluctant and emerging readers. Jack is best friends with Billie from the Billie B Brown series and, like his tom-boy best friend, Jack is the perfect antidote for young boys who feel like they can’t relate to super heroes or sporting stars.

The Gobbledygook and the Scribbledynoodle by Justine Clark and Arthur Baysting

A sweet lyrical story encouraging friendship, reading, playing outside, being silly and using drawing as a part of storytelling. The Gobbledygook is described using he/him pronouns but no pronouns are assigned to the scribbledynoodle.

The ‘Billie B Brown’ series by Sally Rippin

Billie B Brown is brave, brilliant and bold, and the star of her very own super-dooper early-reader series. Whether she’s playing soccer, learning ballet with her best friend Jack, or getting used to a new baby brother, fun and feisty Billie B Brown always has a creative way to save the day.

Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan & Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr

The latest book by bestselling Australian Indigenous author Sally Morgan tells the enchanting and tender tale of a day with Little Bird. The day begins in the early morning as Little Bird rises and warbles with Sun to wake all the sleeping animals. You can almost feel yourself stretching and yawning as you also stir with Little Bird’s call.

8–12 year-olds

‘Wonder’ by R. J Palacio

“What makes R.J. Palacio’s debut novel so remarkable, and so lovely, is the uncommon generosity with which she tells Auggie’s story… The result is a beautiful, funny and sometimes sob-making story of quiet transformation.”

The Smartest Giant in Town‘ by Julia Donaldson 

A kind male role model who is caring and celebrated for his kindness by his friends. Celebrating values of kindness, community, connection and comfort over money or possessions.

wilum book cover‘Wilam, A Birrarung Story’ by Aunty Joy Murphy

A book that follows the story of Birrarung (Yarra River) as told by a Wurundjeri elder. Sharing the story of Birrarung through The rivers relationship to plants, animals and the landscape. The book incorporates the Woiwurrung language throughout.

‘Ada Twist, Scientist’ by Andrea Beaty

A beautifully written, lyrical and fun book, celebrating black girls getting involved in messy science and supportive families.

rebel girls cover‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’ by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo 

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives. From Marie Curie to Malala, Ada Lovelace to Zaha Hadid, this book brings together the stories of scientists, artists, politicians, pirates and spies.

‘The Serpent Slayer: And Other Stories of Strong Women’ by Katrin Hyman Tchana and Trina Schart Hyman (Illustrator) 

“This volume is an anthology of 18 stories about heroines with as much courage, wit and intelligence as their more familiar male counterparts. It includes Li Chi, the serpent slayer, and the old woman sly enough to outsmart the devil.”

‘I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley (Illustrator)

Baddeley and Levy demonstrate how disagreement can lead to meaningful discussion and doesn’t have to be personal. This lively, inviting, and informative biography of a historic woman will empower young ones to bravely voice their opinions.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

It is the story of a young girl struggling with dyslexia. “Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

The Adventurous Princess and Other Feminist Fairy Tales written and illustrated by Erin-Claire Barrow

An Australian book released last year, The Adventurous Princess and Other Feminist Fairy Tales is a retelling of nine traditional fairy tales with a feminist twist. Fairy tales open up new worlds full of enchantment and adventure, but many of these traditional stories also reinforce rigid gender roles and norms, perpetuate stereotypes, and lack diversity in their characters. In The Adventurous Princess, the charm, whimsy, and magic of traditional fairy tales remain, but the diverse characters challenge stereotypes about who they should be or how they should act, stand up for themselves, and shape their own futures.

Young adult 

the giver book cover‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry

“Lowry presents readers with what seems to be the perfect society- one without pain or suffering. Through the young narrator, Jonas, we come to realise the role of pain and suffering in being human and the ethics of ‘perfecting society’. The Giver is an incredibly powerful read, which  leads to interesting discussion.”

‘The Tomorrow Series’ by John Marsden

“A phenomenal series which follows a group of courageous teenagers as they fight invaders on Australian soil. John Marsden creates such real, dynamic characters in his novels that I felt I had made close friends with the protagonist, Ellie, by the end of it.” 

‘Feminists don’t wear pink (and other lies)’ by Scarlett Curtis

An urgent and inspirational collection of essays by a diverse group of celebrities, activists, and artists about what feminism means to them, with the goal of helping readers come to their own personal understanding of the word. Feminism has never been more deeply and widely embraced and discussed, but what exactly does the F word mean?

BlakWork by Alison Whittaker

Shortlisted for a number of awards, BlakWork is “a stunning mix of memoir, reportage, fiction, satire, and critique composed by a powerful new voice in poetry. Alison Whittaker’s BLAKWORK is an original and unapologetic collection from which two things emerge; an incomprehensible loss, and the poet’s fearless examination of the present.”

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