With a background in writing and education, I was always going to be passionate about reading with my daughter. Books have been the basis of some of our favourite shared moments here at Patchwork.blog headquarters. The two above, We All Sleep and I Love Me, are recent much-loved discoveries by Indigenous Australian creatives.
In We All Sleep, a young girl observes native animals in their habitats, doing what they do: ‘against pink skies/kookaburra calls’. On the final pages, the stars provide a common shelter for the girl and all the animals as they sleep. Ezekiel Kwaymullina’s poetic text pairs perfectly with Sally Morgan’s colourful illustrations. My daughter loves reading this before bed and I love that she’s connecting to native fauna and landscapes.
I Love Me, by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina, is an upbeat celebration of ourselves. It reads like a joyous slam poem and is accompanied by zany, happy pictures. There is a strong message of accepting ourselves and our bodies, and revelling in what we can do: ‘Tap, tap, tap/I love the way my hands clap.’ The book is perfectly pitched for a toddler who delights in clapping her hands and taking ownership of her body.
As an Australian of multi-ethnic heritage, it’s really important to me that my daughter is exposed to and engages with cultural representations of people with different backgrounds. I want her to know that our society is made up of people with different coloured skin and different cultural practices and that we are all the richer for it.
And I want her to connect with the culture of Australia’s First Peoples and for it to be more meaningful than a few lessons of Integrated Studies at school. I’m delighted that We All Sleep and I Love Me are some of her first means of building these connections.