Throughout 2020, I spent time evaluating our toys, books and resources. I looked for books that depicted children of a variety of races. I checked to see whether races different to my own were well represented in our toys and materials. I looked through the stores and businesses I support day to day. And do you know what I noticed?
I had ONE book out of hundreds where the main character didn’t look like our children. There was a very small pile of books that had supporting characters with darker skin than our own…but I was shocked to find how little BIPOC representation there was in our play room.
I spent some time throughout 2020 building our collection of books and toys so that my children weren’t only being exposed to their own culture and ethnicity.
Today I’d like to share a few of the online stores we have shopped with this year, all of which are owned by Indigenous Australians. My hope is that this blog post will help you to not only support local Indigenous businesses, but also ensure that your own family resources aren’t unintentionally biased towards your own race and cultural background.
“When we fail to talk openly with our children about racial inequity in our society, we are in fact contributing to the development of their racial biases, which studies show are already in place.” Dr Erin Winkler, 2017
By adding such resources to your home, you’re also opening up opportunities to discuss race with your children. There is SO much change that needs to happen, but this is just one of the steps we’ve taken in our home.
Koori Curriculum is an Aboriginal early childhood consultancy operated by Jessica Staines. While Koori Curriculum aims to support early childhood educators to embed Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into their curriculum, Koori Curriculum also stock a wide range of products for parents and educators alike.
For Audrey’s 2nd birthday, we ordered some of the Australian Bird Finger Puppets from Koori Curriculum. She has been bird mad for a while now so we knew they’d be very well loved.
I also found some gorgeous Australian Bird Puzzles at Koori Curriculum – they’re two-part puzzles and were perfect for her 2nd birthday. I love that these resources enabled us to connect with Country and help us teach our children about the wonderful native birds of Australia. She also has some bird figurines which she matches to the puzzles!
Jessica has an extensive library of toys, books and resources over in her store at Koori Curriculum as well as workshops, downloads and blog posts to support you in embedding Indigenous perspectives into your school, centre or home.
Shu Brown is the owner, artist and designer at Nunga Creations. He creates a variety of unique pieces for your family and early childhood educators.
We ordered a set of Nunga Family Dolls for Audrey at Christmas. Each doll is stained with Jarrah wood stain and then wrapped in fabrics with each set being one-of-a-kind. These dolls are very popular so make sure you set an alarm on restock night!
Right now, Audrey has her Nunga Family dolls set up on a small world table with some wooden logs and branches from the property I grew up on.
Magabala Books is an Indigenous publishing house celebrating and nurturing the talent and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.
As you browse through their website, you’ll find books for adults and children alike. We ordered a variety of books for our home including The Butterfly Garden, On the Way to Nana’s, Mad Magpie, I remember and The Old Frangapani Tree at Flying Fish Point.
You’ll find such a beautiful collection of books at Magabala – it will be hard to just choose a few! This company is an Indigenous not-for-profit goverened by a board of Kimberley Aboriginal educators, business professionals and creative practitioners.
According to Narragunnawali, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned businesses not only deliver innovative products, but also employ Indigenous people, reconnect their employees to culture, instill pride…and invest back into their communities.”
Please also consider visiting Supply Nation – a leading database of verified Indigenous businesses. You can search by business name, product, service, area or category!