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

Announced on Monday, the award was launched by the Wilderness Society in an attempt to highlight stories of Country written or illustrated by Indigenous Australians.

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

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

Alongside Goodes’ children’s book written with Ellie Laing and illustrated by David Hardy, other shortlisted authors include aunty 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 last several years we’ve noticed more and more First Nations authored and illustrated books were being submitted to the Environmental Award for Childrens’ Literature,” he said.

“Many of the titles that come in honour a connection to Country and tell stories exploring land, community, culture and language.

“As we all know First Nations people have been stewards of this continent’s natural world for millennia and they continue to be so these books we’re getting in well may not be explicitly speaking of nature but share with kid’s about how to live on this continent that we’re on.”

This year’s judges include Kamilaroi man and DeadlyScience founder Corey Tutt, uncle Bunna Lawrie and Wadawurrung woman and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation cultural education manager Corrina Eccles.

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

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

“I know the significance of having FN stories to be able to share in ways of educating people.

“But what I love now is how much more it has evolved particularly we’re seeing some of these stories that are really strongly connected to Country and Land

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

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

Shortlisted 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