Living through a pandemic is stressful. And, although scientists are still assessing the extent to which COVID-19 and the accompanying lockdowns and isolation have affected mental health. (One study, a summary of which was published in The Lancet, estimated an increase of 27.6% in depression [an additional 53.2 million cases] and a 25.6% increase in anxiety disorders [an additional 76.2 million cases] worldwide) Hypervigilance, excessive busyness, difficulty in regulating emotional reactions: they are all common reactions to the unusual pressure of life in a pandemic.
Although Australia is reaching vaccination targets, re-opening theatres, and shucking masks, the anxiety and depression that has been triggered during two years of pandemic life won't go away immediately. And for children and young adults, who are returning to school after long periods of remote learning or perhaps even for the first time, these can be difficult emotional states to manage even at the best of times.
This Necessary Conversation gathers together books relating to anxiety and depression, not specifically within the COVID-19 pandemic, for pre-school, primary school, and high-school readers.
The colours of the tiles below are chosen from the 'Lowered Anxiety' colour scheme created by SchemeColour user Vanessa (available here).
'Mr. Huff is a story about the clouds and the sunshine in each of our lives.
'Bill is having a bad day. Mr Huff is following him around and making everything seem difficult. Bill tries to get rid of him, but Mr Huff just gets bigger and bigger!
'Then they both stop, and a surprising thing happens . . .'
Teaching resources available.
'Piper wants to try lots of new things, but something always stops her – her monkey! Some monkeys are playful. Some monkeys are fun. Some monkeys are even helpful.
'Not Piper’s monkey. It’s very, VERY naughty! Everyone else can tame their monkeys. So why can’t Piper?
'Monkey Mind is a gentle story for children and adults about the worrying thoughts that cause anxiety.'
'When Max has a hard time starting his maths work, he's joined by someone new: Worry.
'But Worry doesn't give Max the help he needs. It feels like Worry will never leave, even when Max does what Worry tells him to! But with the help of some deep breaths and a vow to just try his best, Max can say goodbye for now to Worry, and hello to someone new...'
'If kids with anxiety could see their strengths, they would feel so much bigger than their anxiety. They would feel bigger than everything - as though a tiny, tip-toed stretch could have them touching the top of the world from where they are.
'This book is a reminder for all kids that everything they need to be brave, strong and brilliant is already in them.'
'Loppy the Lac has learned its whole life to look out for danger. Looking out for what can go wrong is all it knows - until Loppy meets Curly Calmster. Curly teaches Loppy that it doesn't have to look out for the everyday worst-case scenarios all the time.'
Teaching resources available.
'Under the Love Umbrella is a celebration of the enduring love that surrounds our children, wherever they are in the world. Inspired by the rhythm of the New York subway's L-train, the gentle rhyming text - accompanied by beautiful, vintage inspired illustrations - draws out the small things that can loom large in a little person's life, from big dogs to lost teeth, and from forgotten hats to friends who won't share.'
Teaching resources available.
'Arthur is a dog with a secret. More than anything in the world he loves to play his violin, but he’s too scared to do it in public because, well, what if he’s bad? What if people laugh? What if he makes a fool of himself?! WHAT IF?
'But the song in his head and the dream in his heart just won’t stay quiet. So, when he’s invited to take part in a jam session, he creates the ultimate disguise – a post box costume! And when it falls apart, Arthur doesn’t.'
Max is looking forward to his first sleepover at Grandpa's house. Snuggled in bed with his Old Ted and his torch, Max is woken by a terrifying noise.
'Follow Max and Old Ted as they hunt around the house, and come face to face with a most surprising monster ...'
'Glitch spends his life searching through mountains of mouldy mess at the dump. He wants to make the fastest billycart ever. This year, he will be competing in the Big Race!
'But will his twitch stop him from winning?'
Teaching resources available.
'Girl on Wire is a simple yet brilliantly uplifting allegory of a young girl struggling to build her self-esteem and overcome the anxiety that many children feel as they grow – she walks the tightrope, afraid she will fall, but with the support of those she loves, her toes grip the wire and she walks forward, on her own, with a new confidence.'
Teaching resources available.
'Juliet's a worrywart, and no wonder! Her little sister, Oaf, follows her around taking notes and singing 'The Irritating Song' all day long. Her parents are always arguing about Dad's junk. Nana's so tired of craft lessons that she starts barbecuing things in the middle of the night. And Juliet's friends, Lindsay and Gemma, are competing to see which of them is Juliet's best friend. Juliet can't fit in any more worries!
'But then she makes a remarkable discovery. Behind the wallpaper in her new bedroom, Juliet uncovers an old painting of a very special tree. Nana remembers it well. It's The Worry Tree, and with the help of a duck called Delia and the other Worry Tree animals, Juliet just might be able to solve some of life's big problems.'
'An ordinary boy in an ordinary world...With no words, only illustrations, Small Things tells the story of a boy who feels alone with his worries, but who learns that help is always close by...A universal story, told simply and with breathtaking beauty, about dealing with sadness, anxiety, depression, heartache or loss, and finding your way in the world.'
'Eleven-year-old Jack suffers terrible headaches as he worries that his grandmother will soon die, his mother's boyfriend will move in—or leave—and especially that the school bully will get revenge for Jack's ill-timed joke at his expense.’
(This is book one of a series of four, all following the main character Jack.)
'Blue was no ordinary girl. For starters, her name was Blue. But what was truly extraordinary about Blue was the fact that she hadn't laughed for 712 days. Not a hee hee, a ho ho or even a tiny tee hee.
'According to Dr Boogaloo, music can cure anything. (Of course, you need the right dose of the right music. No point listening to a jive if you're in need of some boogie-woogie, and you can't just substitute a toot for a blow!) But no laughter was definitely a case for alarm.
'Can Dr Boogaloo compose a cure before Blue loses her laughter forever?'
Teaching resources available.
'Griffin Silk is an uncommon sort of boy, from an uncommon sort of family. The warm, loving home he shares with his father, grandmother and five big sisters (The Rainbow Girls) is marked by the aching absence of his mother and baby sister. Where have they gone and will they be coming home again?'
'Twelve-year-old Sarah makes lists. It helps her remain in control when her life is on hold. But what sort of life does she want when the choice is between eccentric elderly aunts and her sophisticated glamorous stepmother? A wonderful portrayal of families with all their idiosyncrasies.'
'I’ve been making lists ever since I could write. It relaxes me. By writing my worries down, I feel as if I’m removing them from my mind and leaving them on the paper. My secret worry list is the big boss of lists. Right now, there are 23 worries on it.
'New school. New town. 23 worries. Can Michaela Mason handle it?'
This is followed by Michaela Mason's Big List of Camp Worries.
'Trailing her orange suitcase, and a heart full of worry, thirteen-year-old Agatha is about to go home. She has been in and out of foster care for years now, but her latest new life lived with naval precision with Katherine, Lawson and their dog, Chief, has proved to be the salvation that Agatha needed. She has new friends, a sense of place, and space to breathe.
'But when the social worker says it's time to return to her parents, her world comes crashing down. Home has always made her anxious and ashamed and she can't understand why now she is being forced to go back. Is it possible to find a way to love her parents without having to live with them?'
'Welcome to Moopertown! In Moopertown, everyone is special – in their own special way!
'This fun, funny and affirming series will entertain children of all ages. In each book we are introduced to a new Mooper – Musical Markus, Nervous Nellie, Dramatic Dom and Giggling Gertie. At first they seem to have a really silly trait – Markus loves to sing…all the time, Nellie is always nervous, Dom is overly dramatic and Gertie just can’t stop giggling – but it’s these very traits that eventually transform these Moopers to superhero status!'
'Growing up by the beach in Newcastle in 1989 means footy, sandcastle competitions and school. Michael’s dad’s a journalist and his small world gets bigger as he starts to pay attention to the news. His interest turns into anxiety and obsession as Michael begins to see the world as a dangerous place that is fast collapsing around him. When the Berlin Wall comes down, most see it as a sign of change and freedom but Michael isn’t convinced. But when an earthquake hits his home town, Michael discovers that the worst that can happen is not always as bad as your fears.'
'Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can’t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck. The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.
'Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.'
Teaching resources available.
'I have questions I’ve never asked. Worries I’ve never shared. Thoughts that circle and collide and die screaming because they never make it outside my head. Stuff like that, if you let it go—it’s a survival risk.
'Sixteen-year-old Nate McKee is doing his best to be invisible. He’s worried about a lot of things—how his dad treats Nance and his twin half-brothers; the hydro crop in his bedroom; his reckless friend, Merrick.
'Nate hangs out at the local youth centre and fills his notebooks with things he can’t say. But when some of his pages are stolen, and his words are graffitied at the centre, Nate realises he has allies. He might be able to make a difference, change his life, and claim his future. Or can he?'
'Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they'd surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning.
'Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.'
'Introducing Rob Fitzgerald: thirteen years old and determined to impress the new girl at school, but it's a difficult task for a super-shy kid who is prone to panic attacks that include vomit, and genuine terror that can last all day. An anonymous texter is sending Rob challenges and they might just help. Or not.
'Beautifully moving and full of heart and humour, A Song Only I Can Hear is a delightful novel about dreaming big, being brave and marching to the beat of your own drum.'
Teaching resources available.
'Grace is questioning everything she thought about herself, and has opted not to join her clique of judgemental friends for schoolies, instead tagging along with her brother Casper and his friends. Casper, an artist, is trying to create the perfect artwork for his uni application folio. Overachieving, anxiety-ridden Noah is reeling from a catastrophe that might have ruined his ATAR result. And Elsie is just trying to figure out how to hold their friendship group together.
'On the first night of the trip, they meet Sierra, a mysterious girl with silver-grey hair and a magnetic personality. All of them are drawn to her for different reasons, and she persuades them to abandon the cliched schoolies experience in favour of camping with her on a remote, uninhabited island. On that island, each of them will find answers to their questions. But what does Sierra want from them?'
'Since Ava lost Kelly, things haven’t been going so well. Even before she gets thrown out of school for shouting at the principal, there’s the simmering rage and all the weird destructive choices. The only thing going right for Ava is her job at Magic Kebab.
'Which is where she meets Gideon. Skinny, shy, anxious Gideon. A mad poet and collector of vinyl records with an aversion to social media. He lives in his head. She lives in her grief. The only people who can help them move on with their lives are each other.'
Teaching resources available.
'On his fifteenth birthday, Monty is at rock bottom. Ignored by his parents, bullied at school, and with a brain that's prone to going walkabout, he's all by himself. Until he meets the black dog for the first time.
'It's just like any other dog, except that only Monty can see it. And it talks. And Monty's not sure whether it's a friend - or a foe. But the black dog gets him talking to pretty, popular Eliza Robertson for the first time. It takes him to places he's never been. And eventually it will take him, and the people around him, to the very edge.
'The Hounded is a book about depression and working out who you really are, from one of Australia's most prolific children's television writers.'
'If Michael Sweet thought his early teens were difficult he's in for a shock now he's eighteen and ready to start uni. The pressures of study making new friends and moving into a co-ed college are only the beginning. When Michael sets out to woo the girl of his dreams he gets more than he bargained for. It makes dealing with his drop-kick father and the antics of his madcap surfer mate Angus seem a breeze. But life is about to dish up some surprises that help Michael meet the challenges head on.'
'Tillie Bassett is sad, and she doesn’t understand why. Her parents and friends suggest very different, allegedly helpful, remedies. But it is the suggestion of her counsellor, Gilbert the Goldfish, that the answer may lie in finding the nature of happiness.
'As Tillie embarks upon her project she discovers that, when it comes to family and friends, nothing is quite as it seems. Secrets are uncovered, old tensions resurface, relationships tangle and untangle, and Tillie realises that everyone struggles balancing sadness and happiness, and living truthfully.'
'When Amy’s mum dies, the last thing she expects is to be kicked off her dad’s music tour all the way to her Aunt Lou in a depressing hole of a seaside town. But it’s okay — Amy learned how to cope with the best, and soon finds a hard-drinking, party-loving crowd to help ease the pain.
'The only solace is her music class, but even there she can’t seem to keep it together, sabotaging her grade and her one chance at a meaningful relationship. It takes a hard truth from her only friend before Amy realises that she has to come to terms with her past, before she destroys her future.'
LGBTQIA+ and queer are umbrella terms for those who identify with sexualities beyond hetero- (attraction for the opposite sex or gender) or gender identities beyond cisgender (gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth). This exhibition focuses on both fiction and non-fiction that explores and/or features those within the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as creators themselves within the community.
The works listed within this exhibition contain expressions of non-heterosexual sexualities and non-cisgender identities, and creators that identify as such. Hence, some subjects often associated with the queer community have been excluded, such as drag queens and gender roles. We encourage you to search the database for other works on the topics of gender and sexuality.
You may also be interested in exploring AustLit’s Diversity in Australian Speculative Fiction: Sexual or Gender Diversity.
This exhibition was written and researched by Masters of Information Studies student Rebecca Lilley. Rebecca is passionate about diversity within literature and the publication of diverse authors. She runs the website bec&books which discusses these topics and reviews literature with diverse representation.
Gus LOVES wrestling. There's only one thing he loves more than wrestling and that's Mardi Gras when he and his sister get to dress up and parade through the streets with their mums while everyone claps. So when his mums ban him from wrestling because it's too violent, he ingeniously works out a way to combine his two loves and win over his mums again.
A funny book about growing up in a family with two mums inspired by Gus Skattebol-James' story in the award-winning documentary, Gayby Baby. Teaching resources available.
Phoebe wants to know why her Mummy and Mumma aren’t married. She’s mighty confused when Mumma tells her that the Prime Minister won’t let them – but she’s not going to let that stop her. Phoebe gets busy organising a surprise wedding and everyone is invited, even the PM! But will he make it to the party on time?
‘Elvi, which one is your mum?’
‘They’re both my mums.’
‘But which one’s your real mum?’
When Nicholas wants to know which of Elvi’s two mums is her real mum, she gives him lots of clues. Her real mum is a circus performer, and a pirate, and she even teaches spiders the art of web. But Nicholas still can’t work it out! Luckily, Elvi knows just how to explain it to her friend.
Shortlisted for CBCA in 2021 Book of the Year Awards - Notable Book in 2021
Longlisted for International Awards - World Illustration Awards in 2020
Bernadette Green wrote Who’s Your Real Mum? after being asked the same question by her children, about their same-sex parents.
The Gender Fairy is a simple story about two children who find relief in finally being heard. It is a tale of two children who are taking their first joyful steps toward living as their true selves. It is an educational resource for all children and adults to understand what it might feel like to be a transgender child.
One sunny day, Errol finds that Thomas the Teddy is sad, and Errol can't figure out why. Then Thomas the Teddy finally tells Errol what Teddy has been afraid to say: 'In my heart, I've always known that I'm a girl Teddy, not a boy Teddy. I wish my name was Tilly.' And Errol says, 'I don't care if you're a girl teddy or a boy teddy! What matters is that you are my friend.'
A sweet and gentle story about being true to yourself and being a good friend, Introducing Teddy can also help children understand gender identity.
Nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2017
Who’s in your family? Frizzle and Me is the gently humorous story of a growing rainbow family. It’s a big deal when your family changes, but with plenty of love to go around, even the biggest changes can be wonderful! Teaching resources available.
My family doesn’t look like your family. We are unique in our own way. We can share our differences and count the ways we are the same. My family doesn’t look like your family is an Australian children’s book celebrating diverse families.
This fun, inclusive board book celebrates the one thing that makes every family a family… LOVE. In its beautiful pages, many different families are shown enjoying happy, everyday activities. Whether a child has two moms, two dads, one parent, or one of each, this simple preschool read-aloud demonstrates that what’s most important in each family’s life is the love the family members share.
Longlisted for Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) - Children’s Picture Book of the Year in 2019
Growing up sounds terrible. No one has time to do anything fun, or play outside, or use their imagination. Everything is suddenly so serious. People are more interested in their looks and what others think about them than having fun adventures. Who wants that? Not Lora.
After watching her circle of friends seemingly fade away, Lora is determined to still have fun on her own. A tea party with a twist leaves Lora to re-discovering Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house — and Lora’s old imaginary friend! Lora and Alexa are thrilled to meet kindred spirits and they become best friends. But unfortunately not everything can last forever.
Winter's Tale is an illustrated book about a child called Winter, who has never had a proper home. A child who is looking for parents and a family, and a sense of belonging. A child who sees magic in graffiti and a blue hare in the moon. Who meets a girl with a skateboard and learns to fly; who finds a home, with the most curious of families. Winter's Tale is a story about finding your true self and your true home; about family and belonging; about art, magic and freedom.
Winner of Norma K. Hemming Award - Short Form in 2020
When a fierce quake strikes the remote island of Bluehaven, and her father disappears, Jane Doe is thrown headfirst into an epic quest to bring him home. Her father is lost in a place between worlds; a dangerous labyrinth of shifting rooms, infernal booby traps and secret gateways. With a pyromaniac named Violet and a trickster named Hickory by her side, lesbian heroine Jane is about to discover that this adventure is even bigger on the inside than it looks. Teaching resources available.
Winner of Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) - Australian Book of the Year for Older Children in 2019
Longlisted for Indie Awards - Children’s in 2019
Openly gay author, Jeremy Lachlan, wanted to show that queer kids exist and normalise the LGBTQIA+ experience beyond the ever-important coming-out stories. The Jane Doe sequel was also shortlisted for an ABIA award in 2021.
It's Hannah Bradford's first year of high school. As a 12-year-old transgender girl, Hannah has to navigate the challenges that come with starting a new school, and find the courage to live as her most authentic self.
Nominated for the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards - Best Children’s Television Series in 2020
Zoom class finally gets interesting for 13-year-old Kiki when she discovers that her computer screen doubles as a portal into her crush's bedroom. A reflection on young queer love, the fantasies we create in our heads, and the lengths we go to to feel connected during isolation, this 6-minute kids' comedy short is sure to put a smile on your face.
Seventeen-year-old Jackson is living with his family on the Mish (former Aboriginal mission), hanging out with his mates, having problems with his girlfriend, teasing the tourists, and avoiding the racist boys in town. Jackson’s Aunty and cousins are visiting from the city for the summer holidays again. And this time Tomas, a mysterious boy, has come with them. While his mum and Aunty try to finish artwork, Jackson and Tomas grow close. As their friendship evolves, Jackson struggles with the changing shape of their relationship, self-acceptance and identity, and whether he’ll still be accepted by friends, family, and his Aboriginal community.
Shortlisted for The Readings Young Adult Book Prize in 2021
Gary J. Lonesborough has discussed how he drew from his own coming-of-age story, as an Indigenous teenager discovering his own sexual identity, when developing The Boy From the Mish. The book has been celebrated as an Own Voices story.
What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQIA+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us. This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled. Teaching resources available
Longlisted for Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) - Australian Book of the Year for Older Children in 2020
Shortlisted for Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction - Anthology Division in 2019
This anthology features many authors who openly express non-heterosexual identities and are recognised for their publications exploring sexual identity.
Peta Lyre is far from typical. The world she lives in isn't designed for the way her mind works, but when she follows her therapist's rules for 'normal' behaviour, she can almost fit in without attracting attention. When a new girl, Sam, starts at school, Peta's carefully structured routines start to crack. But on the school ski trip, with romance blooming and a newfound confidence, she starts to wonder if maybe she can have a normal life after all. When things fall apart, Peta must decide whether all the old rules still matter. Does she want a life less ordinary, or should she keep her rating normal? A moving and joyful Own Voices debut. Teaching resources available.
Shortlisted in CBCA Book of the Year Awards - Book of the Year: Older Readers in 2021
CBCA Book of the Year Awards - Notable Book - Book of the Year: Older Readers in 2021
Anna Whateley is an openly queer author who proudly writes Own Voices fiction.
A bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her school friends is hired by the hot new kid to help him get his ex back. Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off. When Brougham catches Darcy in the act of collecting letters from locker 89 - out of which she's been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service - that's exactly what happens.
In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.
Harriet Price has the perfect life: she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she decides to risk it all by helping bad-girl Will Everhart expose the school’s many ongoing issues, Harriet tells herself it’s because she too is seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep Amelia Westlake – and their feelings for each other – a secret? Teacher resources available.
Shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awads (ABIA) - Australian Book of the Year for Older Children in 2019
Shortlisted for the Inky Awards - Gold Inky in 2019
Winner of NSW Premier’s Literary Awards - Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature in 2019
Henry is neurotic and insecure: academically gifted, but directionless. School captain, but largely unpopular, he navigates the social mires of the private school scene with difficulty and hilarity by hiding behind his enigmatic best friend, Lennon Cane. A photographer and football star, Lennon lives with his father. He is brilliant at most things, but highly emotionally guarded. After it becomes apparent that Len has always had feelings for Henry, the two fall in love, with both beautiful and disastrous consequences.
Dealing with key themes of friendship, LGBTQI+ rights, first love, and belonging, this is a coming-of-age, coming out story with a twist.
A gripping, dark enemies-to-lovers LGBTQ+ YA fantasy about two girls who must choose between saving themselves, each other, or their sinking island home.
With the tide rising higher than ever before and the islanders whispering that Eva's magic is failing, she's willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city. When Thomas is chosen as sacrifice, Lina takes his place and the two girls are forced to spend time together as they wait for the full moon. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, the two girls find themselves falling for each other. They must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.
Invisible Boys is a raw, confronting YA novel, tackling homosexuality, masculinity, anger and suicide with a nuanced and unique perspective. Set in regional Western Australia, the novel follows three sixteen-year-old boys in the throes of coming to terms with their homosexuality in a town where it is invisible – and so are they. Invisible Boys depicts the complexities and trauma of rural gay identity with painful honesty, devastating consequence and, ultimately, hope. Teaching resources available.
Shortlisted for the Readings Young Adult Book Prize in 2020
CBCA Book of the Year Awards - Notable Book in 2020
Winner of the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards - Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer in 2019
Ever since the witch cursed Babs, she turns invisible sometimes. She has her mum and her dog, but teachers and classmates barely notice her. Then, one day, Iris can see her. The two of them have a lot in common: they speak to dryads and faeries, and they’re connected to the magic that’s all around them. There’s a new boy at school, a boy who’s like them and who hasn’t yet found his real name. Soon the three of them are hanging out and trying spellwork together.
Anyone who loves the work of Francesca Lia Block and delights in Studio Ghibli films will be entranced by this gorgeous and gentle young adult novel about three queer friends who come into their power
What do you do when everybody says you're someone you're not? Alex wants change. Massive change. More radical than you could imagine. Her mother is not happy, in fact she's imploding. Her dad walked out. Alex has turned vegetarian, ditched one school, enrolled in another, thrown out her clothes. And created a new identity. An identity that changes her world. And Alex—the other Alex—has a lot to say about it.
Alex As Well is a confronting and heartfelt story of adolescent experience—of questioning identity, discovering sexuality, navigating friendships and finding a place to belong. Alex is a strong, vulnerable, confident, shy and determined character, one you will never forget. Teaching resources available.
Winner of Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards - Young Adults in 2014
Shortlisted for Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature - Young Adults Fiction in 2014
In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real. Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, a futuristic world is imagined and the fate of a people threatened. In ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.
Writer and editor, Ellen van Neerven is a descendant of the Mununjali (Yugambeh) people from Beaudesert; their father was Dutch. Neerven uses they/them pronouns and identifies as non-binary. They have created numerous works exploring sexuality and gender identity, including short stories in both Kindred : 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories and Meet Me at the Intersection anthologies.
Who will you rely on in the zombie apocalypse? Bodies on the TV, explosions, barriers, and people fleeing. No access to social media. And a dad who'll suddenly bite your head off - literally. These teens have to learn a new resilience. Members of a band wield weapons instead of instruments. A pair of siblings find there's only so much you can joke about, when the menace is this strong. And a couple find depth among the chaos. Highway Bodies is a unique zombie apocalypse story featuring a range of queer and gender non-conforming teens who have lost their families and friends and can only rely upon each other.
Alison Evans is an award-winning author of queer young adult fiction. Evans uses they/them pronouns. They have received numerous accolades and awards for their publications, including winning the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards - Prize for Young Adult Fiction for their novel Ida and being shortlisted for The Readings Young Adult Book Prize in 2019 for Highway Bodies.
Seventeen-year-old Bex is thrilled when she gets an internship on her favorite tv show, Silver Falls. Unfortunately, the internship isn't quite what she expected... instead of sitting in a crowded writer's room volleying ideas back and forth, Production Interns are stuck picking up the coffee. Determined to prove her worth as a writer, Bex drafts her own script and shares it with the head writer—who promptly reworks it and passes it off as his own! Bex is understandably furious, yet...maybe this is just how the industry works? But when they rewrite her proudly lesbian character as straight, that's the last straw! It's time for Bex and her crush to fight back.
Jen Wilde is a best-selling queer & disabled young adult author. Wilde’s books are often widely praised for their inclusivity and wide range of LGBTQIA+ protagonist, alongside other diversity such as mental health and disability. Wilde uses she/they pronouns.
Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama.
Melbourne-based writer C. S. Pacat identifies as queer and genderqueer and uses she/her or he/him pronouns. Pacat has received a number of accolades for her publications, which largely center around queer characters. Most recently Fence : Volume Three was shortlisted in the 2020 Ledger Awards.
A family favour their son over their daughter. Shan attends university before making his fortune in Australia while Yannie must find menial employment and care for her ageing parents. After her mother’s death, Yannie travels to Sydney to become enmeshed in her psychopathic brother’s new life, which she seeks to undermine from within. This is a novel that rages against capitalism, hetero-supremacy, mothers, fathers, families – the whole damn thing. It’s about what happens when you want to make art but are born in the wrong time and place. It will not be easily forgotten.
S. L. Lim has been quoted hating “compulsory heterosexuality” and identifies as a female-presenting queer. Lim became the first non-binary author nominated for the Stella Prize in 2021, after a decision in 2019 change the rules opening the award to non-binary authors. Lim uses they/she/he pronouns.
This brilliant collection of short fiction explores the shifting spaces of desire, loss and longing. Though it ranges across themes and locations – from small-town Australia to Hokkaido to rural England. Whether recounting the confusion of a child trying to decipher their father and stepmother’s new relationship, the surrealness of an after-hours tour of Auschwitz, or a journey to wintry Japan to reconnect with a former lover, Permafrost unsettles, transports and impresses in equal measure.
S.J. Norman is a proud Indigenous Australian of both Wiradjuri and European heritage. A cross-disciplinary artist and writer, Norman has received several accolades for their work, including a commendation for the Peter Blazey Fellowship for their piece Blood from a Stone in 2020. Norman identifies as a non-binary transgender person and use they/them pronouns.
Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has been in pursuit of this dream - but what happens when the talent that makes you special fails you? When the goal that you’ve been pursuing for as long as you can remember ends in humiliation and loss? Twenty years later, Dan is in Scotland, terrified to tell his partner about his past, afraid that revealing what he has done will make him unlovable. Haunted by shame, Dan relives the intervening years he spent in prison, where the optimism of his childhood was completely foreign.
Christos Tsiolkas, the son of Greek migrants, is an openly gay author. Themes of sexuality can be found in many of his publications, including Barracuda and Loaded. Tsoilkas’ latest novel, Damascus, has been present in a large number of literature awards, winning the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards - Fiction in 2020. Tsiolkas uses the pronouns he/him.
When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war. There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. Can one girl – an accidental worldwalker – really be the key to saving Kena? Or will she just die trying?
Foz Meadows is a genderqueer fantasy author, essayist and poet. Meadows was a finalist in the 2018 Norma K. Hemming Award - Long Work for An Accident of Stars and was a winner for the 2018 Norma K. Hemming Award - Short Fiction with Coral Bones. She has recently made a book deal for a queer fantasy romance, A Strange and Stubborn Endurance, to be published in 2022. Meadows uses she/her pronouns.
There is nothing more important than love and refuge. Egypt, 1941: Only hours after disembarking in Alexandria, William Marsh, an Australian corporal at twenty-one, is face down in the sand, caught in a stoush with the Italian enemy. He is saved by James Kelly, a childhood friend from Sydney and the last person he expected to see. William is sent to supervise an army depot in the Western Desert, with a private directive to find an AWOL soldier: James Kelly. Soon William and James are thrust headlong into territory more dangerous than either could have imagined.
Nigel Featherstone is a widely published author, writing adult fiction, creative journalism and short stories. He has been both longlisted (HNSA Historical Novel Prize 2020) and shortlisted (Queensland Literary Awards - Fiction Book Award 2019) for his queer war novel, Bodies of Men. Featherstone calls himself a “lifelong queer” and uses the pronouns he/him.
Benjamin Law considers himself pretty lucky to live in Australia: he can hold his boyfriend's hand in public and lobby his politicians to recognise same-sex marriage. But as the child of migrants, he's also curious about how different life might have been had he grown up in Asia. So he sets off to meet his fellow Gaysians.
The characters he meets - from Tokyo's celebrity drag queens to HIV-positive Burmese sex workers, from Malaysian ex-gay Christian fundamentalists to Chinese gays and lesbians who marry each other to please their parents - all teach him something new about being queer in Asia.
Benjamin Law is an author, essayist, screenwriter and broadcaster. Well-recognised for his writing exploring queer and cultural themes, his essays and columns have appeared in countless popular publications. He has also appeared as a panellist on the ABC television program Q&A. Law uses he/him pronouns.
In this extraordinary memoir, Magda describes her journey of self-discovery from a suburban childhood. Haunted by the demons of her father's espionage activities in wartime Poland and by her secret awareness of her sexuality, to the complex dramas of adulthood and her need to find out the truth about herself and her family. She addresses her own frailties and fears, and asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on. Teaching resources available.
Magda Szubanski is a nationally recognised performer, actor and comedian, who has also authored children’s books and essays. An avid LGBTQIA+ activist, Szubanski was the recipient for the 2019 Order of Australia - Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the performing arts as an actor, comedian and writer, and as a campaigner for marriage equality. Szubanski is openly gay and uses she/her pronouns.
Visceral and energetic, Sakr’s poetry confronts the complicated notion of “belonging” when one’s family, culture, and country are at odds with one’s personal identity. Braiding together sexuality and divinity, conflict and redemption, The Lost Arabs is a fierce, urgent collection from a distinct new voice.
Omar Sakr is an award-winning Arab-Australian poet and writer, born to Lebanese and Turkish Muslim migrants. His poetry has been widely published in Australia and overseas. Sakr’s writing has been featured in numerous anthologies and his non-fiction and critical work has appeared in countless other publications. Sakr identifies as bisexual and uses he/him pronouns.
Meet Nevo: girl, boy, he, she, him, her, they, them, daughter, son, teacher, student, friend, gay, bi, lesbian, trans, homo, Jew, dyke, masculine, feminine, androgynous, queer. Nevo was not born in the wrong body. Nevo just wants everyone to catch up with all that Nevo is. Personal, political and passionate, Finding Nevo is an autobiography about gender and everything that comes with it.
Nevo Zisin is a Melbourne-based queer, non-binary, Jewish writer and activist. They run school and professional development training workshops around transgender identities and is one of the only transgender marriage celebrants in Australia. Their autobiography, Finding Nevo : How I Confused Everyone, was a winner of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature - Older Readers in 2018. Zisin uses they/them pronouns.
Rallying was written alongside Quinn Eades’s first book, All the Beginnings : A Queer Autobiography of the Body, and before he began transitioning from female to male. A collection very much concerned with the body, and the ways in which we create and write under, around, without, and with children, this collection will resonate deeply with anyone who has tried to make creative work from underneath the weight of love.
Quinn Eades is a researcher, writer, and award-winning poet whose work lies at the nexus of feminist and queer theories of the body, autobiography, and philosophy. In 2018, he was working on a collection of fragments written from the transitioning body, titled Transpoetics : Dialogically Writing the Queer and Trans Body in Fragments and was a Tracey Banivanua Mar Research Fellow. His book Rallying won the Mary Gilmore Award for best debut poetry. Eades uses he/him pronouns.
“I marked the day in my adolescent diary with a single blank page.
The mantle of “queer migrant” compelled me to keep going – to go further.
I never “came out” to my parents. I felt I owed them no explanation.
All I heard from the pulpit were grim hints.
I became acutely aware of the parts of myself that were unpalatable to queers who grew up in the city.”
Compiled by celebrated author and journalist Benjamin Law, Growing Up Queer in Australia assembles voices from across the spectrum of LGBTIQA+ identity. Spanning diverse places, eras, genders, ethnicities and experiences, these are the stories of growing up queer in Australia. Teaching resources available.
Twenty-two First Nations people reveal their inner reflections and outlooks on family and culture, identity and respect, homophobia, transphobia, racism and decolonisation, activism, art, performance and more, through life stories and essays. The contributors to this ground-breaking book not only record the continuing relevance of traditional culture and practices, they also explain the emergence of homonormativity within the context of contemporary settler colonialism.
There's more to being queer than coming out and getting married. This exciting and contemporary collection contains stories that are as diverse as the LGBTQIA+ community from which they're drawn. From hilarious anecdotes of an awkward adolescence, to heartwarming stories of family acceptance and self-discovery, the LGBTQIA+ community has been sharing stories for centuries, creating their own histories, disrupting and reinventing conventional ideas about narrative, family, love and community.
Curated from the hugely popular Queerstories storytelling event.
Two young queer Chinese men who have feelings for each other connect over the phone just as one of them is preparing to be married to a woman.
As the screening of the film at the Rhode Island International Film Festival noted, there is an estimated gay population of more than 30 million in China, 'many of whom marry unknowing people of the opposite sex due to family and societal pressure. These marriages inevitably end up in tragedy. This film aims to support for and to foster a critical understanding of gay marriage. It discusses how the tradition's principles and virtues need to be reinterpreted, reassessed and transformed to reflect perspectives in all sexualities.'
Grieving the death of her mother, Beth wakes one night to find a portal to the past in the forest surrounding her family home. Swept away by visions of her idyllic upbringing with her three siblings and two loving Mums, Beth becomes mesmerised by the past, unable to see the dangers that lie ahead.
Artist Emma (aka Cloudy) and musician River have a relationship built on openness, freedom and fluidity, but the challenges of loving more than one person are put to the test when they move in together. When Emma is commissioned to exhibit at the gallery of her other lover, Zara, she chooses to focus the show on her relationship with River, exploring the timeless bond they share, the messy situations they find themselves in, the joy and the pain of their boundary pushing relationship.
Cloudy River asks whether you can truly be there for each other in an open relationship whilst pursuing the individual freedoms the relationship is founded on.
Set sometime in the not-too-distant future, after the worldwide crisis of 2020, Mandy is a 17-year-old Filipino Australian. In her final year of high school and dealing with her parents impending divorce, she navigates a world driven by a new normal of isolation and fear. Added to this she has a crush on her tutor Serena. Meanwhile, a young girl from the backstreets of Manila tells her story.
Sexual discovery is on-demand for 16-year-old Sequin, whose hook-up app obsession sends him down a dangerous path in this highly-accomplished queer coming-of-age tale.
High schooler Sequin is part of the always logged-on, but never-engaged, hook-up generation. He ghosts ex-partners and remains emotionally unavailable. That's until he finds his way to an anonymous sex party, where a whole new dizzyingly alluring world unfolds before him. Sequin in a Blue Room is a breath of fresh air from the independent Australian queer film scene.
A bride's perfect wedding turns deadly after one of her bridesmaids unknowingly invites a malevolent stranger into their lives, triggering a deadly chain reaction that blows open a hidden world of secrets. As the thriller series unfolds, the power of female friendship could be the difference between life and death. Adapted from Elizabeth Coleman's play.
In 1978, when the push to decriminalize homosexuality has stalled, a group of activists decide they must make one final attempt to celebrate who they are. Led by former union boss, Lance Gowland, they get a police permit and spread the word.
On a freezing winter’s night, they cloak themselves in fancy dress, join hands and parade down Oxford Street. But they have no idea that angry police lie in wait, and the courage they find that night will finally mobilize the nation.
Communities can be big or small. From our family members to our friends; from the classroom to the entire school; from the street where we live to the city we live in. Some communities we choose to be a part of, while others are thrust upon us. They can play an important and influential role in our lives – welcome to the big book of Community! (Teaching resources available).
Shortlisted for the Educational Publishing Awards Australia — Primary in 2019.
Heartfelt and poignant, Visiting You follows a young child’s experiences as they journey with their mother to visit a loved one. The world we live in is full of varied, diverse communities, and along the way they interact with many different people – a father living apart from his daughter, a bereaved husband, a granddaughter forgotten by her grandfather. Through reaching out to these strangers, the child discovers that, despite differences in appearance, age or culture, they all share one thing in common: love. This tale teaches that appearances are sometimes deceiving and that, no matter our differences, it’s our similarities that matter most. (Teaching resources available).
A celebration of families of every kind: Meet Anna, Chiara, Henry, Izzy and Jack. Their families might not look like your family, but that's okay ... they're perfect, just the way they are! (Teaching resources available).
A visually stunning picture book for children aged 4+ with themes of friendship, diversity and the environment, from the author of Zoom. Fern lives in a colourless, lifeless city and has only ever seen trees as pictures in her books. Fern is told that the bandits who come in the middle of the night to steal from the city dwellers are bad guys, but when she follows them back to their home she discovers a land of colour, life, friendship and a future she believes in. BANDITS is the second picture book from Sydney-based artist Sha'an d'Anthes, whose career has seen her travel, show and sell her work all over the world.
Shortlisted for The Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children's Literature (Picture Book) 2021.
Whether you have two mums, two dads, one parent, or one of each, there's one thing that makes a family a family... and that's love. A book for EVERY family by dazzling illustrator Sophie Beer.
Longlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) — Children's Picture Book of the Year, 2019.
'I love hands! Hands that are white and hands that are brown,
Freckles mean sunshine has sent kisses down.
Short fingers, long fingers, bendy or straight,
Hands to clap, or high-five your mate.'
Bold and beautiful, loud and proud, All Bodies are Good Bodies is an uplifting book about different body features and types. Through playful rhyme, it promotes the development of body acceptance and celebrates inclusivity and individuality.
An inclusive picture book for grandparents everywhere.
'In every country around the world are grandpas short and tall.'
'Though they go by different names, we love them one and all.'
From brilliant new talents Ashleigh Barton and Martina Heiduczek, comes a charming and heart-warming book that celebrates the many different ways we say grandpa. What Do You Call Your Grandpa? is a love letter to grandfathers and families from every corner of the globe.
CBCA Book of the Year Awards — Notable Book, 2021.
A story about how the events surrounding the historic 1967 Referendum played out in the everyday lives of two young girls.
'Once there were two little girls who were best friends. They did everything together. As they got older they weren't allowed to do the same things anymore. Because they looked different. Because of the law...'
This is a story about the two women who came together to change the law ... and how the Australian people said YES. (Teaching resources available).
Shortlisted for the 2017 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards — Best Book for Language Development (Indigenous Children).
With a poem written by young Tamzyne Richardson as its centerpiece, My Home Broome captures the heart and soul of the multicultural town of Broome in Australia’s north west. Developed as a community project, artist and illustrator Bronwyn Houston worked with twelve talented students from Broome primary schools to illustrate Tamzyne’s poem. The result is a breathtaking array of artistic expression by Bronwyn and the students that celebrates the uniqueness of their town and its people. (Teaching resource available).
Inspired by the true story of Muslims who saved the lives of Jewish children in the Second World War. In 1942, in the Grand Mosque in Paris, 11-year-old Ruben is hiding from the Nazis. Already thousands of Jewish children have disappeared, and Ruben's parents are desperately trying to find his sister. Ruben must learn how to pass himself off as a Muslim, while he waits for the infamous Fox to help him get to Spain to be reunited with his family. One hint of Ruben's true identity and he'll be killed. So will the people trying to save him. But when the mosque is raided and the Fox doesn't come, Ruben is forced to flee. Finding himself in the south of France, he discovers that he must adjust to a new reality, and to the startling revelation of the Fox's true identity.
2021 CBCA Book of the Year Awards — Notable Book (Younger Readers).
Hugely readable historical fiction in the classic style of Little House on the Prairie – this warm and engaging story offers a glimpse into a life rich with tradition, celebration and love.
Meet the Rabinowitzes: mischievous Yakov, bubbly Nomi, rebellious Miriam, solemn Shlomo, and seven more! Papa is a rabbi and their days are full of intriguing rituals and adventures. But the biggest adventure of all is when big sister Adina is told she is to be married at the age of fifteen – to someone she has never met.
Based on the author’s real family, the Rabinowitzes dance, laugh and cook their way through an extraordinary life in 1920s Poland. In the classic tradition, this story is fascinating, amusing, and as warm as freshly baked bread. (Teaching resources available).
2017 CBCA Book of the Year Awards — Notable Book.
Nomi - the little girl from The Family with Two Front Doors - is now Nana Nomi, standing in her kitchen in Melbourne, a long way from Poland, a long time after losing much of her family in the holocaust. Her granddaughter Anna gets into all sorts of scrapes - like glueing her baby sister's foot to a plank of wood (then worrying she'll have to live like that forever). Anna and her family celebrate Passover, and birthdays and trips to the zoo, they also deal with prejudice, and other more serious sides of life. And through it all, Anna is on the hunt for the most beautiful doll she has ever seen... (Teaching resources available).
Longlisted: Book Links Award for Historical Fiction (2021) and APA Book Design Awards (2020).
Huong and her friends are not the most popular girls in school. They don't have boyfriends, they aren't blonde, they don't play sport. Plus Huong has a family secret that she's not allowed to tell anyone about. Huong thinks that there is no one like her at school. But one day someone shows her that there is...
This work is affiliated with the AustLit subset Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing.
Nic is left in the care of her grandfather at the remote family property that was once her mother’s childhood home; a place with thirty rooms, three dogs and no mobile reception. Left to her own devices, she searches for clues about her mother – who died the day Nic was born. But when Nic learns how to slip through time, she discovers more than she could have imagined. The past holds a dark and shocking secret that haunts the land and the people who live there. (Teaching resources available).
Subhi's imagination is as big as the ocean and wise as the sky, but his world is much smaller: he's spent his whole life in an immigration detention centre. The Bone Sparrow is a powerful, heartbreaking, sometimes funny and ultimately uplifting hymn to freedom and love.
'Sometimes, at night, the dirt outside turns into a beautiful ocean. As red as the sun and as deep as the sky. I lie in my bed, Queeny's feet pushing against my cheek, and listen to the waves lapping at the tent.'
As Subhi grows, his imagination gets bigger too... The Night Sea brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie, a scruffy, impatient girl who appears from the other side of the wires... (Teaching resources available).
2018 shortlisted for the Sakura Medal (Japan); 2018 IBBY Honour Diploma (Winner); 2017 shortlisted Prime Minister's Literary Awards — Young Adults' Fiction; 2017 shortlisted Queensland Literary Awards — Young Adult Book Award; 2017 The Readings Young Adult Book Prize (Winner).
Mina wants her own bedroom more than anything else in the whole wide world. And it’s almost ready! Just one more lick of sunny yellow paint and it’s hers... But when Mina's parents take in an unexpected guest, they give her room away. At first, Mina is too upset to speak. She doesn’t care that this new kid, Azzami, needs a place to stay. At school, the other kids call Azzami names, and Mina wishes he’d stand up for himself. Then she sees his drawings, and for the first time really thinks about the life of the quiet boy in front of her. Told in candid verse, here is a story about finding friendship where you least expect it and making room for everyone across this big wide world.
This is my favourite T-shirt. I brought it to Australia from my old home. My family came here after a long journey. It was hard at first, but now I love my new home... (Teaching resources available)
2021 shortlisted for The Readings Children’s Book Prize.
Layla's mind goes a million miles a minute, so does her mouth – unfortunately her better judgement can take a while to catch up! Although she believes she was justified for doing what she did, a suspension certainly isn't the way she would have wished to begin her time at her fancy new high school. Despite the setback, Layla's determined to show everyone that she does deserve her scholarship and sets her sights on winning a big invention competition. But where to begin?
Looking outside and in, Layla will need to come to terms with who she is and who she wants to be if she has any chance of succeeding. Jam-packed with heart and humour You Must Be Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied reveals a powerful new voice in children’s writing. Touching on the migrant experience and exploring thought-provoking themes relevant to all teens, this book shows the strength required to be a Queen with a capital ‘Q’. (Teaching resources available).
Thirteen-year-old Hayaat is on a mission. She believes a handful of soil from her grandmother's ancestral home in Jerusalem will save her beloved Sitti Zeynab's life. The only problem is the impenetrable wall that divides the West Bank, as well as the check points, the curfews, the permit system and Hayaat's best friend Samy, who is mainly interested in football and the latest elimination on X-Factor, but always manages to attract trouble. But luck is on their side. Hayaat and Samy have a curfew-free day to travel to Jerusalem. However, while their journey may only be a few kilometres long, it may take a lifetime to complete... (Teaching resources available).
This work is affiliated with the AustLit subset Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing.
2009 Inky Awards — Gold Inky (Winner).
Wen Zhou is determined to create a future for herself that is more satisfying than the life her parents expect her to lead. She is the daughter and only child of Chinese immigrants whose move to the lucky country has proven to be not so lucky.
Wen and her friend, Henry Xiao - whose mum and dad are also poor immigrants - both dream of escape from their unhappy circumstances, and they form a plan to sit an entrance exam to a selective high school far from home. But when tragedy strikes, it will take all of Wen's resilience and resourcefulness to get herself and Henry through the storm that follows.
Equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful, Tiger Daughter is a wonderfully compelling and authentic Own Voices novel about growing up Asian in Australia. (Teaching resources available).
A boy. A girl. Two families. One great divide.
When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees - standing on opposite sides. Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre. Michael's parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values. They want to stop the boats. Mina wants to stop the hate. When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael's private school, their lives crash together blindingly. A novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice. (Teaching resources available).
2017 winner Victorian Premier's Literary Awards — People's Choice Award
2017 winner Victorian Premier's Literary Awards — Prize for Young Adult Fiction.
This modern love story with a hijabi twist explores Islamophobia through bookish fantasy-nerd Tara, who pushes herself to take a stand after a student calls in a bomb threat on her first day of university after she leaves a bag in a lecture theatre.
2018 longlisted for The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers.
Learning to kick a football in a suburban schoolyard. Finding your feet as a young black dancer. Discovering your grandfather’s poetry. Meeting Nelson Mandela at your local church. Facing racism from those who should protect you. Dreading a visit to the hairdresser. House-hopping across the suburbs. Being too black. Not being black enough. Singing to find your soul, and then losing yourself...
Welcome to African Australia. Compiled by award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke, with curatorial assistance from writers Ahmed Yussuf and Magan Magan, this anthology brings together the regions of Africa, and the African diaspora, from the Caribbean to the Americas. Told with passion, power, and poise, these are the stories of African-diaspora Australians: diverse, engaging, hopeful and heartfelt. (Teaching resources available).
2020 shortlisted New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards — Multicultural.
Fifteen-year-old Sabiha has a lot to deal with: her mother's mental health issues, her interfering aunt, her mother's new boyfriend, her live-in grandfather and his chess buddy, not to mention her arrogant cousin Adnan. They all want to marry her off, have her become a strict Muslim and speak Bosnian. And Sabiha's friends are not always friendly. She gets bullied by girlfriends and is anxious about boyfriends, when she just wants to fit in. But two boys, Brian and Jesse, become the allies of this fierce and funny girl. (Teaching resources available).
2009 Melbourne Prize — Civic Choice Award (Winner).
Ubby is a smart, young Aboriginal girl who is twice as tough as the streets she lives on. She is the leader of a rag-tag group of youth known as the 'Underdogs'. When Ubby meets Sai Fong, a Chinese girl who has arrived fresh off the boat from Beijing, street life in Broome takes on a multitude of new dimensions. From the moment the two girls meet, they find themselves immersed in a series of bizarre adventures influenced by Aboriginal and Chinese myths and legend, and secrets never before exposed.
This is a heroic tale that measures the limits of courage and friendship. Amidst a backdrop of fictionalised Aboriginal and Chinese mythology in the unique multicultural town of Broome, Brenton's first graphic novel leaves you gasping for air and in anticipation of things to come. (Teaching resources available).
2011 nominated for Deadly Sounds — Outstanding Achievement in Literature.
Willow Tree and Olive tracks the journey of an Australian girl of Greek extraction, called Olive, in her final year of school. Like any adolescent, Olive is trying to deal with friends, teachers and family, while also trying to reconcile her Greek heritage with contemporary Australian culture. The usual tumultuous complexities of a multicultural adolescence are further complicated for Olive when a long suppressed trauma leads to a major life crisis.
2002 joint winner The Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist of the Year.
Is it possible for two very different teenagers to fall in love despite high barbed-wire fences and a political wilderness between them? Anahita is passionate, curious and determined. She is also an Iranian asylum seeker who is only allowed out of detention to attend school. On weekdays, during school hours, she can be a ‘regular Australian girl’. Jono needs the distraction of an infatuation. In the past year his mum has walked out, he’s been dumped and his sister has moved away. Lost and depressed, Jono feels as if he’s been left behind with his Vietnamese single father, Kenny. As Jono and Anahita grow closer, Kenny starts snooping behind the scenes… (Teaching resources available).
2019 winner CBCA Book of the Year Awards — Book of the Year: Older Readers.
Jamila is happy in her new home in Australia, though she still misses her old life in Iraq. She and her new best friend Eva sing side-by-side in the choir at school and have picnics together on the weekends.One day, Jamila gets some exciting news: Mina, her oldest friend from Iraq, is coming to Australia. Jamila can’t wait to see her and introduce her to Eva. But when Mina arrives, things do not go as planned. Jamila feels torn between her two friends, and sad that Mina isn’t the same person she remembers. Can Jamila be a true friend to Mina, and help her feel safe and happy in her new home?
2021 longlisted APA Book Design Awards — Best Designed Children’s Fiction Book.
When my dad dropped us off at the front gate, the first things I saw were the rose garden spreading out on either side of the main driveway and the enormous sign in iron cursive letters spelling out LAURINDA. No 'Ladies College' after it, of course; the name was meant to speak for itself.
Laurinda is an exclusive school for girls. At its secret core is the Cabinet, a trio of girls who wield power over their classmates - and some of their teachers. Entering this world of wealth and secrets is Lucy Lam, a scholarship girl with sharp eyes and a shaky sense of self. As she watches the Cabinet at work, and is courted by them, Lucy finds herself in a battle for her identity and integrity.
Funny, feisty and moving, Laurinda explores Lucy's struggle to stay true to herself as she finds her way in a new world of privilege and opportunity. (Teaching Resources available).
2017 winner US Author's Circle — Young Adult Book of the Year
2016 winner NSW Premier's Literary Awards — Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature.
Kate, a quiet boarder, making some risky choices to pursue the experimental music she loves. Clem, shrugging off her old swim-team persona, exploring her first sexual relationship, and trying to keep her annoying twin, Iris, at arm's length. Ady, grappling with a chaotic family, and wondering who her real friends are; she's not the confident A-lister she appears to be.
When St Hilda's establishes a Year 10 Wellness Program in response to the era of cyber-bullying, the three girls are thrown together and an unlikely friendship is sparked. One thing they have in common: each is targeted by PSST, a site devoted to gossip and slander that must have a source within St Hilda's.
Who can you trust when rumour is the new truth? (Teaching resources available).2018 winner CBCA Book of the Year Awards — Book of the Year: Older Readers / Notable Book.
The term ‘neurodiversity' was first used widely by people on the autism spectrum, and then came to be applied to other neurodevelopmental conditions, including ADHD, dyslexia / dyscalculia / dyspraxia / dysnomia, and Tourette syndrome. It has also been applied to what otherwise are called mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
These lists focus on the earlier application of the term to describe people on the autism spectrum, living with ADHD, and with dyslexia et. al.
It starts from the premise that neurodiversity (conditions like Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and the like) is a normal, essential part of human biodiversity – without it we don’t get Picasso, Einstein or Greta Thunberg! Yes, neurodiverse kids sometimes require a bit of extra help and patience, but they should never be viewed as disordered. Some Brains encourages us all look for our strengths and to understand that brains are like fingerprints – uniquely, wonderfully ours.
'Blu-eyed Madi has a difficult gift. At first sight she looks just like most other kids her age, but she is different - she has autism. This book tells about Madi's early years and how hard it was to discover what was going on inside her precious mind and heart.'
'Indigo was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was five. Dyslexia is a condition in which the part of the brain responsible for processing symbols into words misfires. After being teased at school, Indigo enrolled in an intensive literacy program that improved her reading skills, self-esteem and happiness. Now Indigo is helping other kids like her.
Read a review of this picture book at Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare.
This is a book that explores notions of diversity and difference through a story suitable for 3 to 7 year olds. The central character is a young boy who has an obsessive interest which dominates his life and that of his family. This is a trait often present in children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The story is narrated by Hugo’s older sibling, who grapples with acceptance of her brother’s eccentricity. Hugo’s obsession and consequent skill with numbers brings rewards for him and his sister, so that the story ends positively, celebrating Hugo’s unique abilities. Note: Teaching resources available.
Read a review of this book on Buzz Words.
Just because you can’t spell doesn’t mean you can’t write! A young boy has a mind full of wonderful stories but when he writes them down, day after day, they come back covered in red pen after his teachers have corrected his spelling. It seems his dyslexia will always hold him back from sharing his creativity the way he longs to. Then a new teacher arrives at school! My Storee is an engaging and creatively designed picture book that provides inspiration and support for reluctant writers and dyslexics, and shows the importance and power of good teachers. Note: Teaching resources available.
Read a review of this picture book on Buzz Words.
This is a story about Jay, and what it is like for him to visit his family. Jay lives with Autism and the world can feel very different to him. This story is written using English and Noongar, the language of the traditional owners of the Whadjuk/Ballardong regions of Western Australia. Written for and by the Noongar Community in association with Rocky Bay Disability Service.
Note: Full-text available.
"My brother Quentin has autism, which means he sees the world a little differently to me. Mum says lots of people have autism, but everyone is unique. Quentin always lets his quirkiness shine, and when I'm around him I'm never afraid to be myself. If you ask me, our quirks are what makes us who we are!"
Read a news article and interview with the author in Tulpa magazine.
Meet Gus! Gus might be the only asparagus in his family, but he is happy. However, when he goes to school he starts to realise that he doesn't always 'fit in'. Gus is here to help kids understand that it's okay to be different. He will soon be a favourite with anyone who has ever felt a bit out of place, kids and adults alike.
Read a review of this picture book on Buzz Words.
All Dogs Have ADHD takes an inspiring and affectionate look at Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), using images and ideas from the canine world to explore a variety of traits that will be instantly recognisable to those who are familiar with ADHD.
Miro sees the world differently from everyone else, thanks to the Curiosities - strange little creatures that nestle on his shoulder, whisper in his ear, and show him a different way of seeing the world. Most of the time, no one else notices. But sometimes, the Curiosities make him stand out, in ways that can be good but are occasionally confusing and scary. Miro learns to live with and control his Curiosities, and gradually starts to see that they are a kind of gift. Note: Publication date is July 2021.
Mika is a girl growing out of her clothes and approaching womanhood with the expectations of her mother weighing firmly upon her shoulders and a love of music that transcends the strict classical lessons imposed on her. With a brother and sister who have ganged up on her, she is looking for a way to escape and find her own voice. Mika and Max form a strong bond that is inspirational and heartwarming. A story about a girl who meets a boy who changes everything... Note: Teaching resources available.
Read a review of this children's book on Reading Time.
Everything is changing for 11-year-old Alex and, as an autistic person, change can be terrifying. With the first day of high school only a couple of months away, Alex is sure that having a friend by his side will help. So, he’s devised a plan – impress the kids at school by winning a trophy at the PAWS Dog Show with his trusty sidekick, Kevin. This should be a walk in the park . . . right?
Full of mystery and intrigue, this graphic novel version of Kathy Hoopmann's best-selling adventure follows Ben, a boy with Asperger syndrome (AS). When Ben and his friend Andy discover an old blue bottle in the school yard, little do they know of the mysterious forces they are about to unleash...
Eleven year old Tilly dreams of becoming a marine scientist. But she lives in a drought stricken town with her mum and younger brother Oliver, who is autistic. Oliver's meltdowns are making life unbearable. He can't cope with even the smallest of changes to his routine. On top of that, he needs so many different kinds of therapy that there's never any time or money left over for swimming lessons. When her Mum loses her job and decides to move the family to the Queensland coast, Tilly is excited and terrified all at once. Is this her chance to finally learn to swim? Note: Teaching resources available.
Ali Stanford just wants to have a normal life. But it's not that easy. Her brother, Max, is not like everybody else. Max is autistic. He has special needs and takes up a lot of his family's time and energy. Sometimes Ali feels left out. As Ali learns to understand Max, she wants everybody else to understand too.
New six-part series about Jack McCool, a young boy whose troubles at home and school soon become minor when he discovers he has a magical connection to an ancient Celtic hero. Catapulted back in time, Jack discovers a golden amulet missing six magical gemstones. They hold the key to breaking a witch's wicked curse - and Jack's the one who has to find them.
Read article about the author and inspiration for the series in The Daily Telegraph.
Set in a modern-day small town among the remnants of a Japanese POW camp, this is the story of Charlie. Charlie has synaesthesia and hence sees and hears differently: people have auras; days of the week are coloured; numbers and letters have attitudes. But when Charlie meets Japanese exchange student Kenichi, her senses intensify and she experiences flashbacks, nausea, and hears unfamiliar voices in her head pulling her back to the town’s violent past. This is heartfelt contemporary storytelling at its best. Note: Teaching resources available.
Peta Lyre is far from typical. The world she lives in isn't designed for the way her mind works, but when she follows her therapist's rules for 'normal' behaviour, she can almost fit in without attracting attention. When a new girl, Sam, starts at school, Peta's carefully structured routines start to crack. But on the school ski trip, with romance blooming and a newfound confidence, she starts to wonder if maybe she can have a normal life after all. When things fall apart, Peta must decide whether all the old rules still matter. Does she want a life less ordinary, or should she keep her rating normal? A moving and joyful Own Voices debut.
Note: Teaching resources available. Anna Whateley suggests her essay in Growing Up Disabled in Australia is a good companion text to Peta Lyre.
Erin is looking forward to schoolies, but her plans are going awry. She’s lost her job at Surf Shack after an incident that clearly was not her fault. Her licence test went badly, which was also not her fault: she followed the instructor’s directions perfectly. And she’s missing her brother, Rudy, who left almost a year ago. But now that she’s writing letters to him, some things are beginning to make sense... 'Kay Kerr’s Please Don’t Hug Me depicts life on the cusp of adulthood—and on the autism spectrum—and the complexities of finding out and accepting who you are and what’s important to you.' Note: Teaching resources available.
Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative they've ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie. But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him...
Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought... Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Twins Justine and Perry are about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest. It's been a year since their dad lose his battle with cancer. Now, at 19, Justine is the sole carer for her disabled brother. But their reliance on each other is set to shift. For Perry, the trip is a glorious celebration of his favourite things: mythical sea monsters, Jackie Chan and the study of earthquakes. For Justine, it's a chance to reconcile the decision to ‘free' her twin, to see who she is without her boyfriend, Marc – and to offer their mother the chance to atone for past wrongs. But the instability that has shaped their lives will not subside, and the seismic event that Perry forewarned threatens to reduce their worlds to rubble... Note: Teaching resources available.
One in five Australians have a disability. And disability presents itself in many ways. Yet disabled people are still underrepresented in the media and in literature. Growing Up Disabled in Australia is the fifth book in the highly acclaimed, bestselling Growing Up series. It includes interviews with prominent Australians such as Senator Jordon Steele-John and Paralympian Isis Holt, poetry and graphic art, as well as more than 40 original pieces by writers with a disability or chronic illness. Note: Teaching resources available.
Princess Eloise Hydra Gumball III is all about peace, love, and being a little OCD. As the meticulous Future Ruler and Heir with an almost-useless magical gift, she’s totally over the toxic pressure of her impending rise to the throne. But when a prophecy points to her royal twin’s peril, a simple quest with her chattering chipmunk champion becomes a complicated journey that could send her to her doom.
17 year old Kai lives on the streets. The night his 12 year old autistic brother, Rod, comes looking for him, the two steal and crash a car and die. Searching for Rod, Kai finds himself in Hades. As their adventures continue, these youngsters are magically transformed to what they were before Kai became a street-boy. In their efforts to find Rod, the youngsters come across some of the mythical characters as described by Kai’s Greek grandmother before she died: a multi-headed dog, a blind prophet, twin whirlpools, three goddesses, a dangerous sea-nymph and the powerful sea-god and his evil one- eyed son. Note: A novel in verse form.
Zoe has just finished school and started an internship at a local newspaper. Her first assignment is to write about romance, but where to begin? Zoe hasn’t been in love. She doesn’t think anyone has ever even liked her. So when her article is published and she’s contacted by a number of young men who had been interested in her in their schooldays, Zoe realises that somehow she had missed the social cues. Social Queue is a funny-serious own-voices story about being a young autistic woman navigating the dating scene and sorting out complex and often confusing feelings on the road to finding love. Note: Publication date is September 2021.
Penny's mum has died of cancer, and she doesn't know what to do with her father. It's like his face is only interested in where it's going if he's heading towards a bottle of wine. Then 15-year-old Penny sees an old man in a church, spaced-out about worms. It's too much, but it's the spunkiest guy in the school who listens to her. And their first kiss is like poetry. Trouble is, this gorgeous guy can't spell, and can hardly even read. Through her hilarious ups and downs with her father and her almost-boyfriend, Penny learns about death, spelling, friendship, and how to dye your hair red - everything a teenager needs to know.
Note: We couldn’t find much on "dyslexia" for this age group, so we've decided to give an honourable mention to Jocelyn Harewood’s Worms in the Night, although we suspect it would be difficult to get your hands on a copy since it hasn’t been republished since the 1990s.
From school climate strikes to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, Necessary Conversations: Activism features picture books, Children's and Young Adult fiction that cover environmental protests, land rights, suffragettes, disability rights, and anti-war protests. If you're looking to inspire and inform the next generation in the classroom or simply want a bedtime story with substance, you're in the right place! This series ties in, and in some cases overlaps, with our previous Necessary Conversations: The Environment. You might also be interested in checking out our 'Climate Activism' section within our Climate Change in Australian Narratives project or explore all works on Activism published as a picture book, Children's or YA fiction.
'Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg has captured the world’s attention as she campaigns to raise awareness of climate change and calls world leaders to account. All children can follow Greta’s lead. Claire Malone is the hero of Claire Malone Changes the World, a feisty character with boundless energy to change her world for the better armed with her typewriter and the determination to make a difference.
Jack in England writes to his Australian penpal Nicole, who describes the ancient tropical rainforest near her home in Millaa Millaa, Queensland. Includes factual information about Australian, and the importance of rainforest protection. Did you know? This picture book was originally published in Korean and forms part of AustLit's Children's Literature and the Environment exhibition.
Little one, when we say Black Lives Matter, we're saying black people are wonderful-strong. That we deserve to be treated with basic respect, and that history's done us wrong... From birth to the end of school, in joy and in sorrow, on the trumpet and the djembe, at home and in the community, a black child's parents remind him why Black Lives Matter. 'A gorgeous and essential picture book for children of all ages from bestselling and award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke.' Teaching Resources available.
Celebrate young climate change activists in this story about an empowered girl who shows up, listens up, and ultimately, speaks up to inspire her community to take action against climate change. After attending a climate march, a young activist is motivated to make an effort and do her part to help the planet... by organizing volunteers to work to make green changes in their community. Here is an uplifting picture book that is an important reminder that no change is too small, and no person too young, to make a difference.
A celebration of inspirational women from all over the world and throughout history, told in Marcia Williams' much-loved comic-strip style. Celebrate incredible women from around the world and throughout history. From writers to warriors and astronauts to activists, discover their awesome stories and be amazed by their achievements. Featuring Cleopatra, Boudicca, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth I, Jane Austen, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, Wangari Maathai, Mae C. Jemison, Cathy Freeman and Malala.
In 1965, a young man named Charles Perkins exposed the treatment of Indigenous Australians as second class citizens. Travelling on a bus, he led a group of university students on a 'freedom ride' through New south Wales and Queensland. Their protests against racism were met by outraged locals, but the students kept fighting for justice. They made headlines around the world, helping to change attitudes and, eventually, Australian laws. This is a story of the Freedom Ride, and how it changed Australia forever.
This is a pivotal story in Australia's history with a highly visual presentation that will engage students. Graphic-style re-enactments are employed alongside conventional presentation to convey details that text alone cannot, and to show different viewpoints simultaneously Part of a fascinating series for middle-upper primary that tells the stories of some momentous times in our history, the author's approach promotes critical thinking and analysis with an emphasis on causes and effects, key personalities, and the long-term outcomes for Australian society.
From Little Things Big Things Grow presents the lyrics of the Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly song of the same title, alongside the history of the Gurindji people's plight for their traditional land. The story recounts when Vincent Lingiari and other Gurindji workers walked off Wave Hill cattle station in 1966. What began as a strike over wages and conditions became an eight-year struggle for the return of traditional lands. It ended in 1975 when Prime Minister Gough Whitlam symbolically poured sand into old Lingiari's hand. The book is illustrated Queensland artist Peter Hudson and the kids from Gurindji country. Teaching Resources available.
Violet Mackerel loves Clover Park. She especially loves to collect acorns from under the big old oak tree. But the oak tree is going to be cut down... Violet does NOT think this is a good idea! The oak tree is important. It is worth trying to SAVE. And Violet hopes her POCKET PROTEST will be just the thing to save it!
Green Peas is our name and pranking's our game! A symphony of alarm clocks at assembly? Yep, that was us. A plague of fluffy guinea pigs? It's next on our agenda. But for me, Cookie and Zeke, it's about more than just fun. We're determined to make a difference. And when the adults won't listen, us kids will find a way to be heard - as long as we can stay out of detention! No activist is too small, no prank too big... and things are about to get personal.
Will Thompson has problems. It's hard to feel normal when words and letters are swimming around in your head like alphabet soup. What makes it even harder is when your family is completely over the top! Will and two desperado friends devise a plan to stop the most powerful man in the state closing down the Boongara Learning Centre - it's a long shot, but some things are worth fighting for.