ALIA partners with leading Indigenous publisher Magabala Books 

Canberra. 01 December 2021: The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has announced its partnership with Magabala Books, Australia’s leading Indigenous publisher, to create two children’s picture books written and illustrated by Indigenous creators.

With a grant from the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund, an Australian Government initiative, ALIA has commissioned the creation of these works and they will be available in 2022. The children’s books will be included on the Online Storytime book list for public libraries to share with their communities through reading, recording and posting online.
Rachel Bin Salleh, Publisher Magabala Books, said, ‘We are thrilled to be partnering with ALIA to commission two new titles in 2022. This life changing investment in First Nations storytelling through an Australian Government RISE grant has real and lasting impacts. This will make a world of difference for our creators and their families. We are proud both books will be added to the ALIA Online Storytime project to encourage new pathways to First Nation stories.’
Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said this partnership will augment the book list for First Nations’ stories and provides a new opportunity for diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices to be celebrated.
“With support through the Morrison Government's Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund, the Australian Library and Information Association, in partnership with Magabala Books, is able to commission new Indigenous works, such as these two children’s picture books, that will inspire and educate families for years to come,” Minister Fletcher said.
One of the works to be published Thank you, Rain! is written by one of Australia’s best known- Aboriginal writers, Sally Morgan and illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr, a Yolŋu man from the Ganalbingu clan. This is the third collaboration between Johnny and Sally and the book celebrates the joy of rain and seasonal changes.
Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr expressed gratitude and shared more about Thank you, Rain!, saying, ‘Thank you to the Library mob for this money. I like this book, rain makes a real change, cause when the rain comes, boof!, in a flash the dry land becomes beautiful and everything will grow, maybe the animals, when they see rain, think it’s time to eat and grow themselves. People know what’s going to grow when the rain comes, food for us people and the animals.
‘Because this is a children's book, when they are real small the book can remind them about what’s coming with the seasons. I drew these pictures for children and I like how the rain comes to all the children around the world. Thank you Rain! and Thank you Library!’
The second book, Walamami budbud ngurragu, Open your heart to Country, by Jasmine Seymour, a Darug woman, will be published in English and Darug language, and is a moving story of returning and belonging to Country.
Jasmine expressed her enthusiasm about the partnership saying: ‘Budyari marri! I am so excited to have received help from ALIA to publish my book ‘Open Your Heart To Country’. The partnership between Magabala and ALIA is such an incredible opportunity for me and wonderful recognition for the important work that Magabala does promoting diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. The stories of First Nation Peoples are important for all Australians to hear. Thank you ALIA for helping us get our stories into the world.’


About Magabala Books

Magabala Books is Australia’s leading Indigenous publishing house. Based in Broome, WA, Magabala publishes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors, artists and illustrators from all over Australia. Aboriginal owned and led, Magabala nurtures new and emerging writers, illustrators and one-time storytellers and celebrates the talent and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.
More about the commissioned titles
Walamami budbud ngurraguOpen your Heart to Country, by Jasmine Seymour.
Walamami budbud ngurragu - Open your Heart to Country is a moving story of returning and belonging to Country. An early-childhood book with exquisite illustrations, little ones will enjoy the flow and sensual nature of the words, while older children and adults will respond to the deeper message of reconnection.
Jasmine Seymour is a Darug woman and descendant of Maria Lock, who was the daughter of Yarramundi, the Boorooberongal elder who had met Governor Phillip on the banks of the Hawkesbury River in 1791. Jasmine is a member of the Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation.
Jasmine is a primary school teacher in the Hawkesbury area of NSW. Her previous publications include Baby Business (2020), Cooee Mittigar with Leane Mulgo Watson (2020), and Family by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson. It is Jasmine’s wish that through her books, everyone will know that the Darug mob are still here, still strong.
Thank you, Rain!, by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr.
Thank you Rain! is an early-childhood picture book celebrating the joy of rain and seasonal changes. The third title by Sally Morgan and Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr, the book introduces children to vibrant scenes of country transformed by rain. Johnny’s distinct painterly style amplifies the poetic rhythm and playful sounds of Sally’s text.
Sally Morgan is one of Australia’s best-known Aboriginal artists and writers. She belongs to the Palyku people from the eastern Pilbara region of Western Australia. Her widely-acclaimed first book, My Place, has sold over half a million copies and is one of Australia’s most celebrated works. She has published several books including biographies and children’s stories.
Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr is a Yolŋu man from the Ganalbingu clan and is known for his paintings of Ganalbingu song lines as well as his mother’s Wägilak clan stories. Along with other members of his clan, Johnny keeps culture strong through painting, song, dance and ceremony. Johnny lives in the remote East Arnhem Land community of Gapuwiyak, where he is Chair of the Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts Aboriginal Corporation. In 2017, Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr was the inaugural winner of the Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award. Johnny has illustrated two titles with Sally Morgan, Little Bird’s Day (2019) and The River (2021).
About Online Storytime
The Online Storytime pilot program started in January 2021 and allowed participating libraries to make short videos of picture book readings to post on social media accounts, such as library Facebook groups or administered YouTube channels. It was developed to meet a growing need for online content during lockdowns and to help mitigate the risk of copyright infringement, while also giving publishers a return.
A grant from the Australian Government RISE fund was awarded to the program in September 2021, recognising the innovative work of librarians who kept communities reading together, even when COVID forced the physical closure of library buildings. Public libraries participating in the program are eligible for grants to support Online Storytimes, with an emphasis on ensuring that literature is accessible to all children in Australia. Click here for more information and to apply for a community grant.

Sue McKerracher, ALIA CEO, M 0404 456 749 T 02 6215 8215 E [email protected]