Five Reasons Indigenous Books are Needed in Early Childhood
Indigenous picture books are so important for exposing our little ones to different perspectives in their early years, which sets them up for positive learning experiences and interest in new ideas, places and interests in their later years. Here’s five reasons I think Indigenous authored and illustrated books are so important in kindergarten:
They introduce children to new places - many Indigenous picture books are set in communities or places where the authors / illustrators may be from themselves.. offering readers insight into places they may never have been before.
They teach about Australia’s First Nations culture; regardless of whether or not a child is themselves Indigenous, the culture and history of our First People’s should be shared with all as it is very importantly, the first culture of this country. The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia talks about how “Belonging acknowledges children’s interdependence with others and the basis of relationships in defining identities. In early childhood, and throughout life, relationships are crucial to a sense of belonging.” Learning about the First culture of our country helps children in this journey of belonging.
They often refer back to important ‘caring for country’ principles. You will often find Indigenous stories referring back to those important principles of looking after the world around us, the landscape, the plants and animals and ourselves, speaking to how it is all interconnected and relates to overall wellbeing of our world and ourselves.
They break stereotypes and set up children with learning experiences that teach them to think outside the box. There is such a wide range of Indigenous storybooks out there, each touching upon beautifully diverse themes and contexts. They remind our children that Indigenous culture and history is long, complex, multi-layered and like any other culture, continually changing.
They speak to the identity of Indigenous Australia. The Early Years Learning Framework also speaks of children having a strong sense of identity, and that children learn to interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect. Sharing with them Indigenous stories is a way to showcase Indigenous Australia to children in these early years, which will help instill in them the importance of relating to others (particularly others who may come from a different cultural background to their own) with this care, empathy and respect.