Reading Australia and Magabala Books: High Quality Literature and Teaching Units

By Henderson, Robyn; Bean, Wendy et al. | Practical Literacy, June 2018 | Go to article overview

Reading Australia and Magabala Books: High Quality Literature and Teaching Units


Henderson, Robyn, Bean, Wendy, Turner, Carmel, Batt, Jantiena, Practical Literacy


For a long time, reading stories has played an important role in the 'work' of teachers. Over the years, the literature on offer for school children has changed and it now shows more diversity than previously. In recent years, the place of literature in the curriculum has been cemented in place. Literature is one of the three strands of the Australian Curriculum: English (ACARA, 2018), sitting beside Language and Literacy as an important part of the curriculum for all school students.

In previous years, teachers often had to design their own activities for using literature in classrooms, but today we are lucky to have a plethora of high quality literature available and a growing range of high quality resources. One source of these resources is the Reading Australia (2018) website, which was set up by the Copyright Agency, a not-for-profit organisation (see Copyright Agency, 2018). Its website offers a wide range of teaching units based on literature suitable for school students. Very obvious amongst these resources are books written and illustrated by a diverse group of authors and illustrators, including a wonderful selection from Magabala Books. Indeed, teachers are spoilt for choice in terms of what can be accessed from this website.

Investigating the units on Magabala Books

Now in its fifth year, Reading Australia has more than 350 books, 95 essays and over 140 teaching resources for Australian teachers to access. In conjunction with Magabala Books (2018), it offers a growing number of teaching units celebrating Indigenous authors and illustrators. All units have direct links to the Australian Curriculum: English (ACARA, 2018) and the NSW English K-10 Syllabus (NSW Education Standards Authority, 2012). ALEA members have been involved in writing these units, which cover a range of relevant themes and curriculum content descriptors. The books 'were chosen for their educational and literary value and appropriateness for different primary year levels' (Edie Wright, Chairperson of Magabala Books; see Readings, 2017).

According to Wright, Magabala Books have given 'people the opportunity to tell their own stories, to ensure that cultural protocols were observed' (Readings, 2017). She also explained that the project with Reading Australia aimed to build shared understandings and respect around Indigenous issues and culture. The list of available units is growing and the units address important themes, such as loneliness, friendship, identity and belonging, the Stolen Generation, prejudice, home, family and country.

Foundation   The Lizard Gang (Kirra Somerville)
             Scaly-tailed Possum and Echidna
             (Cathy Goonack)
Year 1       Two Mates (Melanie Prewett)
             Little Corroboree Frog (Tracey Holton-
             Ramirez & Angela Ramirez)
Year 2       Mrs White and the Red Desert
             (Josie Boyle)
             Mad Magpie (Gregg Dreise)
Year 3       Our World: Bardi Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon
             (One Arm Point Remote Community
             School)
             Once There Was a Boy (Dub Leffler)
Year 3/4     Do Not Go Around the Edges
             (Daisy Utemorrah)
Year 4       Mrs Whitlam (Bruce Pascoe)
             Stolen Girl (Trina Saffioti)
Year 5       Girl from the Great Sandy Desert
             (Jukuna Mona Chuguna & Pat Lowe)
             Tjarany Roughtail (Gracie Greene)
             Free Diving (Lorrae Coffin)
Year 6       Alfred's War (Rachel Bin Salleh)
             Fog a Dox (Bruce Pascoe)

The teaching activities in each unit have direct links to the Australian Curriculum and the NSW K-10 Syllabus, as well as the General Capabilities and Cross-curriculum Priorities of the Australian Curriculum. Some preliminary information about each book is presented, along with information about the author/s and illustrator/s. On the website, each unit is framed around a four-step process that involves Literature, Responding, Examining and Creating, and the content is organised under a set of major headings. …

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