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Everyday ELLA ideas for reading

When you read with your child often, good things happen. You are close together, looking at the same thing. Your child will hear many new words and phrases. You can ask each other questions about the book and talk about what is happening in the story. That is not all.

  • Books can surprise us.
  • Books can help us learn about other cultures and experiences.
  • Books can help us to understand others.
  • Books can change the way we see ourselves.
  • Books can help us learn to include others.

Some questions for you to ask your child

Who wrote the book?

What is the author’s and the illustrator’s culture and background?

Does the author have experience of what and who they are writing about?

Is the story interesting?

Do you want to keep reading the book?

Is your child interested?

Are the pictures engaging?

Does the book show respect for all people?

When was the book written?

Are the words and pictures used suitable?

Do the messages about society seem to be biased, or are they factual?

Will this book help your child to show respect for people from a range of cultures and backgrounds?

Are the characters believable?

Does the story show real emotions?

Can your child relate to the characters?

Is the story appropriate for the age of your child?

Does your child understand the story?

Do you feel comfortable talking about the story?

What is the book’s message?

Find a cosy spot and enjoy a book together.

Books that open children’s minds to new cultures and experiences

My two blankets

By Irena Kobald; Freya Blackwood, illustrator

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A girl tells the story of her move to Australia with her aunt. At first, everything feels strange. Her only comfort is her blanket. When she meets another child who teaches her new words, she creates a new blanket. Austrian-born author Irena Kobald teaches Aboriginal children in the desert regions of the Northern Territory.

Talk about: welcoming others, feeling at home.

The sandwich swap

By Rania Al-Abdullah with Kelly DiPucchio; Tricia Tusa, illustrator

Published by Disney Publishing Worldwide

A story from Queen Rania’s childhood. Two best friends let differences come between them. Then they find a way to come together again. Rania Al-Abdullah, born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, is the queen consort of Jordan.

Talk about: friendship and feelings, points of view.

The patchwork bike

Maxine Beneba Clarke; Van T Rudd, illustrator

Published by Candlewick Press

A wonderful, energetic story of brothers who build their own bike. The boys don’t have much to work with. Maxine Beneba Clarke is an award-winning Australian author of Afro-Caribbean heritage.

Talk about: culture, family, recycling, sense of place.

Wide big world

Maxine Beneba Clarke; Isobel Knowes, illustrator

Published by Hatchette Australia

At kinder the children begin to notice differences. Their teacher talks to them about the wonder of the world. Maxine Beneba Clarke is an award-winning Australian author of Afro-Caribbean heritage.

Talk about: difference in appearance.

Suki’s kimono

Chieri Uegaki; Stéphane Jorisch, illustrator

Published by Kids Can Press

A joyful story. Suki wants to wear her kimono on her first day of school. Her enthusiasm shows how wonderful it is to be yourself. Chieri Uegaki is a Canadian author of Japanese heritage.

Talk about: Japanese culture, self-respect, family values.

Whoever you are

Mem Fox; Leslie Staub, illustrator

Published by Houghton Mifflin Trade and Reference Publishers

This book speaks gently, and straight to the ‘little one’ who is holding the book. It will help your child understand that whoever, wherever and how children live in the world, ‘inside, their hearts’ are just the same. Mem Fox was born in Melbourne but grew up in Africa. She now lives in Adelaide.

Talk about: feeling, differences.

Same, same but different

Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Published by Henry Holt and Company

The story of two boys who become pen pals. They look at the similarities and differences of their lives. Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw lives in the mountains of northern New Mexico. She learned to employ the phrase ‘Same, same but different’ while travelling through Nepal and India.

Talk about: different countries


Angela May George; Owen Swan, illustrator

Published by Scholastic Australia

The sensitive story of a child and mother beginning their new life in Australia. Australian author Angela May George was inspired to write this book by a story that was told to her by her mother, a teacher of refuees.

Talk about: why people flee, challenges, change.

Copyright statement

ELLA is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment and is managed by Education Services Australia. © 2021 Commonwealth of Australia, unless otherwise indicated. This material, other than Commonwealth trade marks in The Polyglots characters and The Polyglots logo, may be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0 licence, unless otherwise indicated.