Adam Goodes among First Nations writers shortlisted for first Karajia Children’s Literature Prize


Adam Goodes’ new children’s book, Somebody’s Land: Welcome to Our Country, is among seven books shortlisted for the inaugural Karajia Prize for Children’s Literature.

Announced on Monday, the award was launched by the Wilderness Society with the aim of highlighting country stories written or illustrated by Indigenous Australians.

The name of the award was inspired by the Mirning culture where Karajia is the bearer and narrator of ancient stories.

One of the inaugural judges, Mirning Elder’s superior uncle Bunna Lawrie, is himself a Karajia and shared the name with the Wilderness Society.

As well as Goodes’ children’s book written with Ellie Laing and illustrated by David Hardy, other shortlisted authors include Aunt Fay Muir and Larry Brandy for their books Sharing and Wiradjuri Country.

Wilderness Society communications manager Troy Beer said the award was a celebration of Australian First Nations storytelling.

“Over the past few years, we have noticed more and more First Nations authored and illustrated books being submitted for the Environmental Children’s Literature Award,” he said.

“Many titles that honor a connection to country and tell stories exploring land, community, culture and language.

“As we all know, First Nations peoples have been stewards of the natural world of this continent for millennia and continue to be so these books that we are entering may not explicitly speak of nature, but share with the children how to live on this continent that we are.

This year’s judges include Kamilaroi man and DeadlyScience founder Corey Tutt, Uncle Bunna Lawrie and Wadawurrung wife and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation Cultural Education Officer Corrina Eccles.

Having worked as an educator for almost 27 years, Ms Eccles said she knows how important it is for children to have First Nations stories to read and learn from.

“It’s great to see so many First Nations people sharing their passion for literature and storytelling,” she said.

“I know the importance of having FN stories so I can share them in a way that educates people.

“But what I love now is how much it’s evolved, especially we see some of these stories that are really strongly connected to the country and the land.

“And I think it’s really important to connect the traditional stories to the traditional land and the learnings of all children.”

The winner of the inaugural Karajia Prize for Children’s Literature will be chosen during Nature Book Week in September.

Preselected titles:

  • Sea Country by Aunty Patsy Cameron, illustrated by Lisa Kennedy
  • Sharing by Aunty Fay Muir, illustrated by Leanne Mulgo Watson
  • Warna-Manda Baby Earth Walk by Susan Betts, illustrated by Mandy Foot and Susan Betts
  • Wiradjuri Country by Larry Brandy
  • Somebody’s Land: Welcome to Our Country by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing, illustrated by David Hardy
  • The Story Doctors by Boori Monty Pryor, illustrated by Rita Sinclair
  • The River by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr
  • Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest by Diane Lucas and Ben Tyler, illustrated by Emma Long

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