Diverse picture book collections

Last updated:  25 March 2024

Do you want to improve the diversity in your library’s children’s picture book collection? 

Update your collection by purchasing some of the books listed below, suggested by NSW public library staff and assessed by our academic partners in this project.

Diverse picture book lists

Diverse picture book categories

Australian picture books focusing on:

  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander characters
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse characters
    (please note the focus is English language books that feature CALD characters)
  • Gender, sex and sexually diverse characters
  • Characters with disability 
  • Characters from regional or rural areas 
Assessment criteria


The picture book includes characters from diverse backgrounds.

Character representation/characterisation

The characters are represented in a non-stereotypical manner with an identity that is described and developed through the story.


The theme of the picture book is closely related to issues of diversity. It is developed through the story, using narrative to create and share lived experiences of the characters.

Multimodal storytelling

The illustrations and text work together to develop ambience and atmosphere, creating a complex world. The story world is open to different interpretations and emotional responses to the characters and themes.

Educational engagement

The picture book serves as an educational tool for the discussion of diversity issues for library staff, carers and teachers. This could be through the story and theme or through additional information or background content in the book.

The assessment criteria were developed by Helen Caple and Ping Tian.


Featured books

Book cover for Anisas alphabet
Anisa's Alphabet
Author: Mike Dumbleton 
Publisher: MidnightSun Publishing, Australia
ISBN: 9781925227574
Beautiful illustrations introduce children to a distressing subject with a hopeful ending.
Therese, Yass Valley Library


illustrated book cover of dragon
Ayu and the perfect moon
Author: David Cox
Publisher: Walker Books, Australia
ISBN: 9781921720222
Ayu is a small Balinese girl trained in traditional dance, Legong, originating in Balinese Palaces. By tradition the first dance is held on the night of a full moon. When the girls grow older, they no longer perform the dance.
Donna, Maitland City Library
illustration of a woman holding a baby
Baby Business
Author: Jasmine Seymour
Publisher: Magabala Books
ISBN: 9781925768671
Great introduction of social diversity and rituals, very easy and caring depiction of a newborn baby welcoming to country. Informative and revealing parts of Aboriginal law and customs.
Wilma, Berrigan Shire Library
Illustration of eye sight letter chart and a plane and a woman
The Flying Optometrist
Author: Joanne Anderton
Publisher: National Library of Australia
ISBN: 9780642279132
A book that illustrates the importance of the Flying Doctor service for those living in remote communities whose access to healthcare is sometimes limited. It hints at the patience and gratitude of those living in the rural town, including the main character, Stephanie, who needs a new pair of glasses.
Jennifer, Maitland City Library
Illustration of person standing in outback Australia near a road sign
Hello from Nowhere
Author: Raewyn Caisley
Publisher: Penguin Australia Pty Ltd
ISBN: 9781760897734
Hello from nowhere is a moving celebration of the Australian outback and the special connection between grandparent and grandchild.
Jess, Maitland City Library
Illustration of a dog and people
Look see, look at me
Author: Leonie Norrington and Dee Huxley
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781741758832
This story shows the life and achievements of a three year old child.  The beautiful illustrations depict an Aboriginal family in the outback.  
Wilma, Berrigan Shire Library Service
Illustrated book cover image with woman and desert
Mrs White and the red desert
Author: Josie Boyle
Publisher: Magabala Books, Western Australia
ISBN: 9781925360578
What really struck me when I first read this book, is how it is set in the outback home of an Indigenous family, and it lightly tells the story of why the children's homework is always so "grubby". The family invite the teacher, Mrs White to dinner one evening and when a big red sandstorm suddenly whips up, Mrs White finds out firsthand that such storms not only turn the children's homework red and dusty, but everything else, including dinner. A very different lifestyle and the problems it throws up for an outback Indigenous family is explored in this gently written story.
Judy, City of Canada Bay Libraries
illustrated book cover with boy and chicken
Something wonderful
Author: Raewyn Caisley
Publisher: Picture Puffin (Penguin Books Australia)
ISBN: 9780143506669
Sam lives in a small country town and is endlessly curious about how things work and enjoys taking things apart and putting them back together in new ways. While his exploring distracted him from daily chores, his tinkering leads him to create a machine to help with his chores.
Laurelle, Maitland City Library
Illustrated book cover image of woman and flower
The Spotty dotty lady
Author: Josie Boyle
Publisher: Magabala Books
ISBN: 9781922142108
Spotty dotty tells how art can bring a community together and the main character overcomes loneliness by using art to connect with her neighbours. 
Holly, Maitland City Library
illustrated book cover with cars and people
Took the children away
Author: Archie Roach
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Australia)
ISBN: 9781760857219
Took the Children Away is a moving indictment of the treatment of Aboriginal children from the stolen generations. including some stunning landscapes of south-west Victoria by renowned Queensland artist Peter Hudson.
Nichola, Maitland City Library
illustrated book cover image with two boys in a pool
Two mates
Author: Melanie Prewett
Publisher: Magabala Books
ISBN: 9781921248450
I love 'Two mates' mainly because it is a sweet story of childhood friendship. It tells the true story of two Broome boys, Jack and Raf, and their adventure filled days hunting for barni (goanna) and collecting feathers and seeds. Jack is indigenous and Raf has Spina Bifida, but it's their friendship that takes centre-stage in this book.
Eleni, Willoughby City Library
illustrated book cover image of boat and people
The Voyage
Author: Robert Vescio
Publisher: EK Books
ISBN: 9781925820034
Voyage describes what happens to a family overcoming huge obstacles when a natural disaster strikes their country, and they are forced to flee on a small boat. 
Jennifer, Maitland City Library
illustrated book cover
Who's Your Real Mum?
Author: Bernadette Green
Publisher: Scribble UK
ISBN: 9781925849493
This book points a spotlight on the scrutiny some children who live in non-traditional families may face with their peers but teaches a beautiful lesson about how the role of the parent is far more than pure biology.
Caitlin, Libraries ACT
illustrated book cover image of a wrestler in a mask
Authors: Maya Newell and Charlotte Mars
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
ISBN: 9781760296810
A lovely read-aloud that celebrates family, identity and understanding.
Emma, Inner West Libraries



Diverse picture book project

The Diverse Picture Book project began in 2020 when the State Library was contacted by Helen Caple and Ping Tian to assist them in their research into diversity in picture book collections in NSW public libraries. Helen is an Associate Professor in Communications and Journalism at UNSW. Ping is an Honorary Associate in the Department of Linguistics as the University of Sydney. Helen and Ping have recently been exploring the representation of diverse characters in Australian children’s picture books.