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Australian April – Indigenous Australians (Pt 2)

Australian April and the first Australians – Texts about Indigenous Australians (2)

Following on from the previous blog, I will provide some other recommendations – At the start of 2011, I had to do a collection analysis of what texts I would recommend to an English faculty to have as class etc texts for a Year 8 Unit of work focussed around the following big question How does the study of various texts (print and non-print) inform us about indigenous Australians and culture? Through looking using various selection aids and criteria (I can provide more detail if interested), I came up with the following list to be the class novels (the idea being that within a class, students choose to read ONE of the first four books)

  • Danalis, J. (2009). Riding the black cockatoo.  Crows Nest (Sydney): Allen and Unwin. ISBN 9781741753776.  (E-Book ISBN – 9781741763560, audio book CD ISBN – 9781742123578, audio book MP3 ISBN – 978174212435)
  • Frankland, R. (2007). Digger J Jones.  Gosford, N.S.W.: Scholastic Press. ISBN 9781865048567 (audio book ISBN 0732033292)
  • Pryor, B., & McDonald, M. (2010). Maybe tomorrow. Crows Nest (Sydney):  Allen and Unwin. ISBN 9781742372440
  • Wilyuka, L., & Spillman, D. (2007). Us mob: Walawurru. Broome:  Magabala. ISBN 9781875641871

Picture Book

Pryor, B., & Ormerod, J. (2010). Shake a Leg.  Crows Nest (Sydney): Allen and Unwin. ISBN9781741758900

These books were selected because they address the different ability levels of Year 8 and offer various genres (fiction diary, fiction narrative, autobiography). They provide a variety of information and understanding about indigenous people and culture. They are up to date and culturally sensitive.

In addition the following “other” resource suggestions were made (They may be misplaced in a blog called bookgenremonthly but TOO bad)

Selected digital texts (all links worked 17/4/2012):

Australian Children and Television Foundation and Education Services Australia. (2010). Indigenous Perspectives. In My Place for Teachers Retrieved from

Hannan, D. (Producer). (2007). Dust echoes: Ancient stories, new voices (website and animation).  Australia: ABC. Retrieved from

Kershaw, R. (Producer), and Perkins, R. (Director). (2009). Bran Nue Dae (DVD). Australia: Roadshow.  ISBN/Catalogue R-1098 13-9.

State Library of Queensland. (2010). Retold – A re-telling of stories and songs from Myths and legends of the Torres Strait. Retrieved from

Audio/eBook versions of Digger J Jones, Riding the Black Cockatoo as listed above and,

Moloney, J. (2008).  Dougy, Gracey, Angela.  (bind-up CD). Bolinda Publishing. ISBN 9781742140247.

Pryor, B. (2002). Njunjul The Sun. (CD) Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin. ISBN 9780732026196.

Bran Nue Dae was selected to act as a contrast to Rabbit Proof Fence (shown early in the term).  It is rated PG and whilst deeper analysis of the film would occur at senior secondary levels, it touches on a range of indigenous issues including the relationship between aboriginal Australian and European-Australian society. It would be an appropriate film to study at the conclusion of the unit once students have a basic understanding of indigenous people and culture, and know something of the stolen generation and the impact of Christian missionaries.  Students who have studied Digger J Jones, Us Mob or Maybe Tomorrow would find many historical and thematic (sense of belonging) links with their texts.

In 2008, a 20th anniversary edition of Nadia Wheatley’s My Place was released with the addition of two new characters to reflect changes in Australian society and a reference to Australia’s apology to indigenous Australians.  This version has been made into a television series with excellent accompanying website(s).  Within the website, students can view clips from the series and complete appropriate English activities.  Students can gain an understanding of reconciliation and the relationship with the land.  Whilst some of the activities are for a younger age group it provides an engaging individual English activity that makes good use of the students desire to use laptops and the internet.

The websites, Dust Echoes and Retold provide different perspectives on the oral tradition and dreamtime stories and are an alternative to the traditional picture books already held in the library.  Dust Echoes presents twelve dreamtime stories in an animated form, is easy to navigate and is very visually appealing.  It helps students understand duty to country, loyalty, aboriginal customs and law.  Study guides are provided for each story and are specifically designed for the middle years of schooling.  Retold provides a retelling of stories of myths and songs from the Torres Strait, and while this group of people are somewhat removed from the indigenous people from near the school, using this site would provide students with an understanding that our indigenous communities are living and evolving cultures. Although not supported by any teaching resources, the story themes can be easily compared with those in Dust Echoes.

There are a number of songs of significance to the process of reconciliation.  For example, Took the children away (Archie Roach) and From little things big things grow (Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly) amongst others.

So if Australian April can extend to the stories of the first Australians then the above provides you with some ideas for content.


About hgtl

I am a secondary English/History teacher (BA DipEd, MA (Education) and a Teacher Librarian (MEd). I LOVE to research and through this site aim to -Support the introduction of the Australian Curriculum (especially in History) through sourcing quality and varied internet based sources (research guides) - Support teachers through conducting education based literature reviews - Provide suggestions on useful Web 2.0 tools - Offer other services such as curriculum writing, library collection assessment, novel recommendations (see my blog


One thought on “Australian April – Indigenous Australians (Pt 2)

  1. You might also like ‘You and me Murrawee’, which, as a picture book, details how particular environments have changed over time. Great starter book for study of the environment, grade4…

    Posted by Julia Ditterich | May 30, 2012, 7:47 pm

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