Black Cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

You have his mark Mia, between your shoulder blades. The dirrarn (black cockatoo) is your totem. Your jarriny (conception totem) totem

I adored this book so much so that I read it twice.

Mia, a young indigenous girl lives on the coast of Western Australia in a remote town surrounded by bush land, water holes and hot red dirt.

She lives with her family, which includes her grandparents, but feels lost between the culture and traditions of her past and the present world she lives in.

But Mia feels the past so much more than her brother does. She feels the pain of the he injured animals and smells danger and freedom on the wind.

The story revolves around Mia rescuing a black cockatoo who has been injured by her thoughtless brother.

We learn about the beauty of persistence, following your beliefs and believing in the power of positive actions.

We also learn the importance of listening to the past, embracing culture and tradition yet looking towards the future.

Black Cockatoo will not only entertain readers from ages 9-13, it will also teach them about owning their beliefs and standing up for what they know is best.

Black Cockatoo would be a great book if o study as a class group as the Jaru language is scattered throughout the story-in context-so readers can learn how to speak this indigenous language from The Kimberley.

As Australians we need to eEmbrace more of our indigenous languages and teach not only those with indigenous heritage but also those who don’t.

Black cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler is a beautiful story and I hope that it can be shared with many more children!

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Clever Crow – Wak Liya-Djambatj by Nina Lawrence and Bronwyn Bancroft

 

 

When a hungry crow can’t find any food, he has to be clever.

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Clever Crow – Wak Liya-Djambatj. Written by Nina Lawrence and illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft is a traditional Australian indigenous story about crows and how clever they are. But what makes this book even better than just being a story, is it is a story told in two languages – English and the Djambarrpuynu, a Yolnu language from the north east of Arnhem Land.

 

As you turn each page you can read the story in either English or Djambarrpuynu and ponder on the patterned images that fall across the pages.

 

For those who cannot speak Djambarrpuynu an orthographic guide has been placed at the back alongside a glossary.

 

Clever Crow teaches the reader about persistence and patience. It shows us that even if we don’t achieve something that we want so much, with time we may just gain it.

 

Children are introduced to difference Australian animals,  traditional indigenous cooking activities and the patterns of indigenous art.

 

The colours of the illustrations jump off each page, lighting up the story from the bright sands of the beach to the darker shades of the bush. The patterns and lines within each block are something to look at in detail to understand the texture of the trees or the contours of the land.

 

Clever Crow is a book that all children across Australia should be reading and it would be wonderful to see more books like this written so we can share the Indigenous languages of Australia and keep them alive for many more generations to come.

What can you do with this book?

Explore the artwork and the patterns within each illustration. Compare the illustrations to that of images from Arnhem land – can you see the patterns in the landscapes?

Find another indigenous story from this part of Australia.

Find an indigenous story from where you live in Australia.

Think about how you have been a clever crow in one aspect of your life OR how you can be.

 

Monster party by The children from Rawa with Alison Lester and Jane Godwin

Monsters come out of the ground tonight. Jeepers creepers, they give us a fright!

In 2017 Alison Lester and Jane Godwin visited Rawa Community school and took part in a project with children from the school that would help them to not only create their own book but build skills in art marking and creative writing.

Rawa Community school is located on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert at Punmu in the Pilbara region of Western Australia – a place where your imagination can run wild!

Monster Party is a fun tale about a band of monsters who decide to come and visit the children at school one day after dancing the night away and keeping everyone up! The monsters can do so many different things on the shores of Dora Lake such as hop, slobber, steal and growl.

Written in rhyme and drawing on the imagination of young children – especially at night time, we learn about the crazy things monsters like to do when we are not looking.

Imagination is a beautiful gift to have but sometimes those dark spaces and lack of noise out in the middle of the desert can make the imagination run a lot wilder that you would hope it does!

The children who helped to write this story have learnt to harness that imagination and turn it into a fun story about life in one of the most remote communities in Australia.

Young children will delight in the crazy, funny and intriguing monsters that pop out on each page and possibly wonder what sort of other monsters are out there dancing the night away?

Monster party is a wonderful picture book for younger readers and there is a lot of learning and fun that can be had with it!

What else can you do?

Explore the different verbs used throughout the book and think of some more things monsters can do.

Learn more about how each of the monsters were created and the printing technique. Try to replicate this technique and create your own monster!

Use a map and find out where Rawa Community school is. Find out more about life there and indigenous stories that come from the desert area.

Write your own story about a monster party somewhere near your school.

Explore the use of rhyme in this story and create your own story in rhyme.

Choose a monster in the book and write a short description of it.

The great lizard Trek by Felicity Bradshaw and Norma MacDonald

Written by Felicity Bradshaw and illustrated by Norma MacDonald, an Aboriginal Yamatji artist, The Great Lizard Trek is an excellent addition to the science, geography and sustainability curriculum in classrooms .

It is also a wonderful book for family homes where nature lovers will delight in looking at the detailed illustrations, the maps and the reasons why we need to care more for the world we live in.

The Great Lizard trek takes us on a journey from the north to the south coast of Western Australia. Along this journey we meet the different types of lizards who live in this part of the world and learn their indigenous name and the indigenous country they come from.

Not only do we learn about these lizards we also learn that they are having to move from the places they have always lived because of climate change. Many lizards cannot cope well with extreme heat, lack of water, too much water or lack of shelter. And we often forget that reptiles play just as an important role in the ecosystem as mammals and marsupials do – not as cute and cuddly so they just don’t get the attention.

We learnt a lot about different lizards and were especially surprised by Goannas and how important temperature was for the development of their eggs. If the eggs get too hot – all the babies will be girls and this is a big problem for the future.

The Great Lizard Trek is a book you can read in one sitting or one you can take your time with, drawing on information, flipping to the maps included at the back and the from of the books and doing a bit of your own extra research.

The story is engaging as are the lizard characters we meet. The dialogue between the characters adds lots of fun to these reptiles that often get ignored!

Norma MacDonald’s illustrations are highly detailed and the background for each lizard is a reminder of where they live and the conditions they live in.

Reptile’s are amazing creatures that live in Australia – and we have so many of them. The Great lizard trek is a great wake up call for all readers to see how human actions are having huge ramifications on the animal world.

Luckily for these lizards the outcome seems to be good – but will it always stay this way? Will there be a part two? I’m not sure if the part two will be as positive.

The Great Lizard Trek is an excellent book to discuss climate change from a different angle, various reptiles and to learn more about indigenous language, culture and country.

There are some great teacher notes here: https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7807/#forteachers 

Love this review? Join my facebook group where we delve deeper into these issues facing children, parents and teachers. 

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Nganga by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson

Nganga is an authoritative and concise collection of words and phrases related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and issues. The word Nganga (ng gar na) means to understand, to see.

In Australia we come across many indigenous words in our daily lives – but do we know the true meaning or origin?

Nganga is an excellent compendium for readers to be able to engage and explore indigenous words.

On each page a new word is presented and the reader is able to learn about the history of how the word became ‘European’, where in Australia the word came from or from which country in Australia it belongs to.

Written by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson, Nganga allows all people – young and old to have easy to understand access to the Aboriginal language.

The culture of Aboriginal Australia is not only one of the oldest cultures but is unique and vibrant. This book provides insight into how to pronounce the different words, the respect needed around certain parts of Aboriginal culture and the way we can all learn, grow and love the country we live in.

Nganga would be a great book for many schools as it is easily accessible from early reading ability and aligns strongly with the National curriculum.

Sorry day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler

Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away

Sorry Day is a very important picture book  to share this Sorry day – or any future Sorry days.

Released on May 1st, Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is a powerful story that highlights both the impact on the families who lost loved ones when they were taken away and the impact Kevin Rudd and the Australian community had when they formally said sorry in 2008.

The scene is set as we meet young Maggie who is excitedly waiting at the Sorry Day speech but amongst the excitement she loses her mother and frantically searches for her amongst the sea of legs and people.

But as we watch Maggie we also see the loss the Indigenous people experienced during the period of The Stolen Generation, we experience through word and illustration how it would have felt to be ripped apart from your family with no warning.

Dub Leffler’s illustrations are amazing and give so much more emotion to this meaningful story. We hear the story and we see the people.

We hear their cries and we feel the emotion as we watch their faces.

We read the history and we see how this has effected the current landscape.

Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is picture book you will not forget.

I’m sure children will have many questions about this topic once this story has been read as the links between a child getting lost in a crowd and the story of children being taken away really pulls at the heartstrings and stirs so much emotion.

Delve deep into this topic with your young readers, explore the past and think about how we can make the future a better place.

What else can you talk about?

  • Explore the quote: Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away.
  • How did the story impact your emotions?
  • Why did the author jump between the past and the present?
  • How has the illustrator shown the difference between the past and the present?

Sorry Day

  • When is Sorry Day and how long have we commemorated this day?
  • Explore the impacts of The Stolen Generation.
  • Why was there a Stolen Generation?
  • What can we do now to ensure inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous people lessen?
  • How can you share the story of Sorry Day with others?

Creative Arts

  • List any songs that you know of that explore this theme.
  • List any artwork that you know of that explores this theme.

There are some excellent teacher notes here: https://flickingonthebook.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/3fe4b-sorrydayteachers27notes.pdf

Buy this book now from Fishpond:

Our birds: Nilimurrungu Wayin Malanynha by Siena Stubbs

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
― Marc Riboud

Siena Stubbs was given a camera three years ago, and now at the age of 15, she has been able to publish some of her favourite photos of birds that live in Arnhem land.

Each photo is accompanied by information about the bird in words by Siena. These words tell us some simple facts about the bird and how she took the photo  –  which make this book so enjoyable for children to read.

Readers will also learn why she has chosen this bird to be in the book and where she often sees that bird.

Not only are we learning about the birds of Arnhem Land, we are also learning about the land, the sea and the sounds each bird makes.

Buy now through fishpond: Our Birds: Nilimurrungu Wayin Malanynha

Our birds allows the reader to learn the language of the Yolnu people and understand how each bird was given its name.

We loved looking at the different types of photographs taken at different times of the day and in different locations. And every child that read this book was intrigued by the Indigenous language names for each bird.

This book is a great book to read but it is also a great book to use as a springboard for other activities.

What can you do with this book?

Geography

  • Look at the map of Australia and learn where Arnhem land is. Discover what life is like up there for children.

Culture

  • Explore the different moiety groups, language groups and cultures in Indigenous Australia.

Science

  • Learn more about some of the birds in this book.
  • Which birds only live in Arnhem land? Which ones travel to other countries or places in Australia?

Visual Arts

  • Look at the different ways the photographs of the birds have been taken. Critique the different techniques and then explore your own photography skills on some local birds.

Literacy

  • Explore the way the information has been written in this book. It is written in first person. How does this make the reader feel? Could you write this information from a third person perspective? Could you research and find more information to make this a different type of non-fiction book?

You hold me up by Monique Gray Smith and Danielle Daniel.

The four words : You hold me up ring throughout this picture book, highlighting the importance of family, trust, friendship and love.

Written by two Canadian authors, this story highlights the damage done by the government to indigenous children in the past and at times, now.

A pertinent issue for many countries around the world, and as an Australian, something we need to do more about.  

Children being taken from their families, never to see them again was something that happened all too often and the stories that are emerging from this are atrocious.

Many of these children and families are on a long path to healing and can only do this with the support of the community around them.

This story reminds us that we are all human and that we all need love, respect and dignity.

Monique Gray Smith has written this with the littlest people in mind and hopes to encourage dialogue among children, their families and educators.

Danielle Daniel’s illustrations are vibrant and full of warmth and love. Each picture oozes the strength of each relationship and the bond held between the people involved.

Read this story with those around you and as you do, you will realise how important it is to hold everyone in our community up.

So what else can you do with this book?

  • Think about how you can support those in your family when they are sad, have experienced something difficult or are just having a bad day.
  • Investigate the Indigenous people of your country. How have they been treated in the past and how are they treated now?
  • How do books like this inspire change? Can books inspire change?
  • Look at the technique used by Danielle Daniels: bright colours, focus on faces and how we can draw emotion into people. Experiment with your own way of exploring happiness, love and support in art.

Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh

Alfred had fought in the Great war, but his bravery was not part of the nation’s remembering. He was one of the forgotten soldiers.

A powerful picture book for children aged 7+, Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh highlights the lack of recognition given to Australian Indigenous servicemen who returned from WWI.

Alfred lived where he liked to live, outside, under the stars, beneath gum trees or by the fire. He lived free and happy as a gardener and labourer, far from home. When he signed up for war not only did he experience the horror of war but also the horror of returning home without recognition for what he did to save Australia.

Many men and women returned from war, scarred from the awful experience they had and many did not receive the support they should have – but to be forgotten would have added more insult to the injuries he sustained.

Indigenous Australians have had many injustices done to them since 1788

Rachel Bin Salleh has written a beautiful story and it really pulls at the heart strings. Children will have so many questions to ask and this is a wonderful thing. We talked about war and we talked about indigenous Australians. We talked about many things I didn’t think younger children would want to listen to, but they did because they saw an injustice in the world.

Samantha Fry’s illustrations add more emotion to each page of the story, giving more meaning to who Alfred was and what he did for Australia.

Creating stories that are told through picture like this are so important and we need to make more of them so that the mistakes of history are not created again and again.

What else can you do?

  •  Talk about war – be honest without too many details. Talk about wars that have been and wars that are still raging. Explore why they start and how they finish.
  • Talk about indigenous people of Australia, what happened to them and why. Look at the indigenous language map of Australia to see where different tribes lived and where some still live today.
  • Why were the indigenous people forgotten about?
  • Look at the different colours used on each page and how those colours make you feel.

BUY HERE – click on book below.

Alfred's War

I remember by Joanne Crawford and Kerry Anne Jordinson

Do you have a memory from many years ago that is as strong as it was the day you did that activity? 

Can you remember the smells, how you felt, what you saw or ate? 

Written by Joanne Crawford and illustrated by Kerry Anne Jordinson, I remember is a beautifully told story that highlights memories and how those that fill us with joy linger within our minds, even when our day to day memory is fading.

We meet our storyteller, an older women, briefly and are quickly transported back in time to a holiday she had as a child.

She tells us in detail her family trip to the Murchison River – the journey in the car, the setting up of the campsite and cooking of damper within hot coals.

Jordinson’s illustrations bring these memories to life so much so that we can feel the heat, smell the gum leaves and hear the night animals.

The gentleness of this story shows the reader just how important happy memories are to an ageing person and how much joy they can bring. It also shows just how important storytelling is – the sharing and listening to of stories brings people and places back to life and sheds light on how we can move forward.

About 4 years ago I visited the end of the Murchison River – near Kalbarri but only spent a day there…it was amazing and I can only imagine the beauty of spending a week or two there would bring. The red rock, the blue river and the green growth – a spectacular place.

I remember by Joanne Crawford moved me, its a book for young and old, one to be shared and perhaps one that will inspire some storytelling around your kitchen table.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Tell stories as often as you can, make them up or retell about a time once had.

– Go camping or spend some time outdoors – entice your senses!

– Find out where the Murchison River is and where you could camp.

– Why is storytelling such an important aspect of Australian Indigenous culture?

– What are memories? Do we need them and if we don’t have them how does this effect us?

– What would life be like if we didn’t have any memories?

In the city I see by Tori-Jay Mordey

Have you been on a trip to the city lately?

Perhaps it is too far away or too busy for you?

Perhaps just for now you can curl up on your lounge and visit it from there! 

Visiting the city is a great experience for young children so in the meantime – take a look at this new book ‘In the city I see‘ written by Tori-jay Mordey and published by Magabala books.

A small , simple and sturdy board book, ‘In the city I see’ will amaze young readers with the vibrant colours on each page that help to add more detail to the simple descriptions.

As you travel through this story you might see hungry pigeons or colourful markets and as you read each of these pages you can talk to your child about the colours they can see, the faces on the people and the different details Tori-Jay has added.

The young art series by Magabala books is a great initiative that showcases young indigenous artists. We have read At the beach I see and At the zoo I see – both fantastic books for young readers.

So what else can you do with this story as you read or after you have read it?

  •  Point out the different colours, name and ask what they are.
  •  How are the different people in the book feeling on the various pages?
  • Who lives in the city?
  •  Why are pigeons hungry in the city?
  • Which flags are flying from the tall buildings?
  • Which show is being advertised on the sign? Check out this video here
  • Visit the city with a camera and an agenda. Choose some places that you can get to by walking or bus and check out places that are child-friendly. A day out in the city is a great way to spend some time!

Molly the Pirate by Lorraine Teece

“Molly lived a long way from the sea, but every day she wished she was a pirate”

Molly is a little girl with a great imagination. She lives in the red dirt of the Australian outback with her mum, a cat, a dog and three chooks but nothing is stopping her from dancing a jig with a pirate, steering a pirate ship or fighting Captain Chicken!

Lorraine Teece has brought this little girls vivid imagination to life through action, adventure and fun filled description of life aboard a pirate ship. Teamed together with Paul Seden’s colourful and movement filled illustrations, Molly the pirate is a great book for young readers.

Children will be inspired to use their own imagination after they have read this book – noticing that sometimes those every day boring looking objects can be turned into something a lot more fun.

A clothes basket could turn into a pirate ship.

A backyard chook into a fearsome pirate

A washing line into a sail .

Many children lack these skills of imagination as they have so many screens and toys to amuse them. Molly the Pirate shows us that with a little bit of creativity we can make any imaginary world come to life!

Perhaps you’ll start to look at the washing basket a little bit differently next time you take it out to hang on the line….

So what else can you do?

  • CREATE: Encourage imagination!! Instead of buying your children more toys take them outside to a park or natural setting and let them play and imagine up worlds.
  • INVESTIGATE: Take a look at your clothes line – who invented this and why? Why should we dry our clothes on the clothes line instead of the dryer?
  • LEARN: Do you have backyard chooks? Where do your eggs come from? Investigate the best types of eggs to buy if you can’t have chooks of your own.
  • RESEARCH: Where is the red dirt of Australia? Investigate which towns live on red dirt and why it is red.
  • WONDER: Did chickens ever travel on pirate ships? Find out more about pirates and why they existed and how they still exist now.

The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft

“I have something to make you jolly, Numbat.” said Anteater.

But animal after animal throughout the alphabet is just too busy to find out what Anteater has until they feel like they are missing out on something wonderful!


The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft is an intriguing  illustrated book that not only is a stunning alphabet book, it also has a message for us all  that I think all readers will see differently.

As readers peruse through the pages and admire the illustrations they can also explore Bronwyn Bancroft’s use of indigenous art techniques which complement each if the Australian animals who stumble across Anteater on his little journey.

Sally Morgan’s words are descriptive and this adds to the depth of using this book in the classroom or at home as parents and teachers can explore the different adjectives used to describe how the anteater thinks the animals might feel about his amazing thing.

The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft is a beautiful book that can be admired and read again and again and drawn upon for many different lessons.

So what can you do from here?

  • List all of the adjectives that are used throughout the story and discover if any are synonyms.
  • What were each of the animals too busy doing? Explore the different verbs from each of the animals.
  • How much do you know about each of these Australian animals? Explore some of the animals you don’t know a lot about.
  • How many times does the anteater appear throughout the book? Explore counting through the pictures of the animals on each page.
  • Are any of these animals endangered?
  • Are any of these animals endemic to one particular area of Australia?
  • What do you think this amazing thing really is and why might everyone think it is different?

 

Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins

Thunder Rolls – BOOM!

Way up north, lightning flashes, thunder rolls, and the frogs sing a chorus.

Big fella rain coming


 

The magic of the summer rains is wholeheartedly felt throughout this picture book. Living in a place where life blossoms almost immediately after the first rains would be a magical place to be. This book, Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins and published by Magabala Books, is a celebration of life and the reliance all living things have on rain.

Figurative language abounds in this story from liquorice clouds, cracked earth, iridescent wings and thirsty reeds. You can feel the world come to life through the story and see it grow in colour through the illustrations.

Big Fella Rain allows the reader to explore how life changes when water plays its role. We can see seeds looking for somewhere to sow themselves, animals drinking up the long-awaited water and rivers forming to support life. The subtle changes of colours in the illustrations throughout the story show the life return to the red sand and cracked earth.

Big Fella Rain is a celebration of the start of the rainy season – the clouds building, the animals retreating and the cracked earth waiting. It is a celebration of the seasons in the Top End of Australia and the delicate nature of the natural world.

Fern Martin’s illustrations are exquisite and the details she adds to the animal features or the subtle changes in the sky add more depth to the story and show the young reader just what life looks like as the rain falls.

We loved reading this story, looking at the details of the insects, listening to the animals cry for joy and watch the water as it made it’s presence. Big Fella Rain is a wonderful picture book to read out loud, pour over the pictures and think about how much we rely on water.

 

So what can you do at home?

Explore Water 

Explore the animals of the Top end

  • Which type of tortoises live in the Top End? What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?
  • What are Brolgas? Emus? Which other large water birds live there?
  • Are there any frogs endemic to the Top End?
  • We often forget about insects but they also play a role in this story – how do they cope with the rain? Where might they go when it is too wet?
  • Are any animals endangered due to climate change? Less rain or too much rain? Damage from mining or pollution?

Explore art

Explore the art work by Fern Martins – Explore how she has created the illustrations in this story and her other artwork. 

 

Have you ever experienced the start of the rainy season? I would love to hear your stories!

Free Diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston

Do you know much about the history of Australia’s pearling industry? In the late nineteenth century, many of Western Australia’s Indigenous were forced to dive for pearl shell under terrible conditions. This story is a tribute to these men and women who risked their lives for the pearl lugger owners.


Free diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston is a lyrical narrative that takes the reader on a journey out to sea and on board a pearl lugger. A pearl lugger was the name given to the large vessels that were used to go out to sea to collect pearl shell. This industry, which has brought a lot of money to Australia is still a part of the economy today – visit Broome to see the many pearl shops up there – but under much better circumstances for the divers.

Older readers will be entranced by the colour of the land and the sea. They will feel scared and worried as the main character dives beneath the waves and yearns for his home. The prose entices the reader to ask questions about where they are, why they are diving with just a rope and why is pearl so precious?

This story really allows the reader to see the past injustices of society and how many people were treated so terribly just for the sake of money.

Brown Houston’s illustrations add more emotion to the story. We feel the gentleness of the ocean breeze, the warmth of the sunshine, the quietness of the moon. But we also see the fear the young man feels, we see the worry he holds within but also the freedom he feels when under the water.

Although I have read a little bit about the history of the Pearling industry from my visit to Broome this book gave me more insight into the dark side of it and how something so beautiful can hold a sad story.

Read this book with your children – it is a beautiful tale. The song at the end may inspire you to pull out your guitar and have a sing along too.

So what can you do after you have read this book?  

  • Explore the pearling industry. Compare the past and the present. Indigenous people had their own methods of finding pearl shell long before the Europeans came along.
  • Are there currently any injustices in the jewellery industry? Explore the concepts of fair-trade and worker’s rights.
  • Sing the song together – it is a beautiful tribute and there is no better way to learn about a story than through song.
  • Explore the art of Bronwyn Houston and the techniques used in this story.
  • Stand up for human rights. Keep an eye out for those around you and make sure that everyone is being treated equally. Be more mindful of what you buy to ensure that people aren’t being mistreated just for a final product.

Kookoo Kookaburra by Gregg Dreisse

Kindness is like a boomerang – if you throw it often, it comes back often

We all know someone who is good at telling stories – and in Kookoo Kookaburra by Gregg Dreiser (a descendant of the Kamilaroi tribe)  and published by Magabala books we meet Kookoo – a kookaburra who has a knack for telling stories.

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Kookoo is often filled with stories but one day he cannot think of a new one – so instead starts making fun of the other bush creatures. This teasing makes the animals feel terrible and soon enough Kookoo realises what he has done and makes sure that from that day on he is only kind.

This story teaches us that in order for others to be kind to us, we also need to be kind. We need to show respect to others and always consider how our actions effect those around us.

Driesse’s illustrations are bold and colourful which conjure up liveliness of the bush creatures, emotions of the bush animals and the beauty of the Australian bush.

So what can you do with this book?

Use this story to teach young readers about kindness and respect.

Explore each character and the actions that take place when they are teased.

Explore the actions of Kookoo before and after he teases after and reflect upon times we have done this.

Gregg Driess’s artwork is beautiful – explore the use of dot painting in his story and try to draw your own Australian bird amongst the Australian sky or land.

 

My country by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan

In my country I play with the morning star

Author Ezekiel Kwaymullina, from the Palyku people in Western Australia’s Pilbara, says, ‘The book was inspired by my Nana and Gran, who passed on their love of country to me.’

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This must read for all ages is a celebration of Australia. Throughout the book we see the land as a diverse and bountiful playground that we can all enjoy and one which belongs to all of us.

As we listen to the text hear the young girl playing with the natural world  – sliding down rainbows, chasing the sun and swimming in the moonlight. Sally Morgan’s illustrations bring the text to life through her vibrant, indigenous artwork.

This story is a wonderful bedtime read as it flows from morning to night time, reminding us of the constant connection we should have with our land. It also teaches young children about the importance of country to Indigenous Australians and the deep connection they have.

So what can you do with this book?

Celebrate Indigenous people of Australia. Who are they? Where do they live? How do they live? What has happened in the past and how can we ensure this never happens again?

How do you view the land? Can you improve on how you see the natural world?

Look at Sally Morgan’s illustrations – draw your own picture of you playing with nature using her techniques of bold colours and lines.

 

 

 

 

Waterlilies by Diane Lucas and Colwyn Campbell

This simple yet powerful picture book will empower your child to want to investigate the outside world and the abundance we can find within it if we take the time and the care.

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Waterlilies by Diane Lucas brings the indigenous perspective of food and life to children who otherwise would have little idea of how people live off the land is a respectful way.

Written in both English and one of the Indigenous languages spoken in Kakadu ( Gun-djeihmi) and drawn with expert detail, this picture book will enlighten.

As Australians we need to know more about the people who cared for this land many years before white man came and took over. We need to draw more from this knowledge so we can start to treat the land with respect so it will be around in the same condition for many more years.

Waterlilies by Diane Lucas and Colwyn Campbell is a must read and one that should inspire some learning of your local indigenous language and local bush tucker.

 

 

So what can you do?

Here are some simple ideas and questions to pose to your students or children: 

Conduct your own investigations into any local bush tucker in your backyard or nearby bushland.

Write about a time you ate some local food – cooked from scratch.

What is your local indigenous language?

What sort of bush tucker is available in your area?

How can you treat the land with more respect so that we can live off it and keep is beautiful for many years to come?

Stories for Simon by Lisa Miranda Sarzin and Illustrated by Lauren Briggs.

This story speaks of love and understanding, it speaks of a time past and a time present coming together. Stories for Simon shows us that we are all part of this big world and together we can all help healing to take place.


Stories for Simon is a truly beautiful story about healing the past and working together for a brighter future.

When a young boy named Simon receives a Boomerang in the post from his uncle little does he know that the paper that wraps the Boomerang carries a message to the Stolen generations of Australia.

Sorry

With his teacher and mother’s help he learns what saying sorry means.

But it is through an unexpected friendship that Simon really understands the meaning of saying sorry.

This is a wonderful story of friendship, understanding of different cultures and reconciliation. The illustrations add to the cultural dimension of this story – both Indigenous dreamtime and the horrifying aspects of the stolen generation. Children will love looking at the illustrations as they read Stories for Simon as they add warmth and acknowledgment to each of the characters and their role within the story.

Stories for Simon will help readers to understand why saying sorry is so important, why the healing process will take a long time and why we need to continue to work towards a better future for the Indigenous people of Australia.

All royalties from this book go towards the GO foundation (Goodes & O’Loughlin) which supports creating opportunities for Indigenous Youth through education.

So what can you do?

REFLECT

LITERACY

  • What do you think the stones meant?
  • Where do you think this famous beach is?

DEVELOPING EMPATHY

  • Create your own Sorry cloud for Reconciliation week – just like the sorry stones. What do you think we can do to make Australia a better place for everyone? 

GEOGRAPHY

  • There is a forward by Vic Simms, an elder of the Bidjigal nation. Research the different nations of Australia.

 

Say Yes: A story of Friendship, fairness and a vote for hope. Jennifer Castles.

Say Yes: A story of Friendship, fairness and a vote for hope is a perfect book which mixes both history and storytelling to tell us about the 1967 referendum.

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Say Yes, is told to us through the eyes of two best friends – one indigenous and the other white. We experience the heartaches, the unfairness, the loneliness and sadness that the indigenous people go through pre 1967 and then the joy – when finally the Australian law was changed to recognise Australia’s indigenous people as people of this land, who deserved to be treated the same as everyone else.

Many children would have little idea about how Australian’s used to treat the Indigenous people of this land and this story tells it perfectly. Using a mix of Paul Seden’s illustrations and real newspaper clippings and photographs we are able to see what happened and the amazing people who were part of this change.

This year, 2017, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum so make sure you share this important event and take the time to read through the notes and explanation on the law that was changes.

What can you do at home or in the classroom?

Indigenous Australia

  •  Are there any issues today that are still not fair?
  • Do you think people’s attitudes are the same or different if compared to 1967?
  • Compare how indigenous people would have been treated before and after this referendum.

Literacy

  • Write a letter to a local politician in the time of 1967 – explain to him or her why the law needs to be changed.
  • Explore the use of the sentence: It’s just not fair. What isn’t fair and why is it repeated throughout the story?

Take action now

There is still low education achievement outcomes for Indigenous children in Australia. The indigenous children deserve to learn how to read and write as much as any one else does so that they can choose to move out of poverty cycles and educate the next generation.

The Indigenous literacy foundation are an amazing group who raise money and work with indigenous communities. Through their programs they empower communities to learn how to read by giving them books and publishing books that have indigenous links.

We are a national book industry charity, which aims to reduce the disadvantage experienced by children in remote Indigenous communities across Australia, by lifting literacy levels and instilling a lifelong love of reading.

Please check them out at www.ilf.org.au  and perhaps even participate in the great book swap in August:  www.greatbookswap.org.au

Books that have Indigenous links

The Legend of Moonie Jarl

Walking with the seasons in Kakadu

Colours of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft.

Thirst

WELCOME TO COUNTRY by Aunty Joy Murphy

At the Zoo I see

Our Island

Say Yes

Mrs White and the Red Desert

Crabbing with Dad

On the way to Nana’s

Stories for Simon

Animals in my Garden by Bronwyn Houston

Mad Magpie by Gregg Dreise

Shapes of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft 

Waterlilies by Diane Lucas

Shallow in the Deep End by the Tiwi College Alalinguwi Jarrakarlinga

Kookoo Kookaburra by Gregg Dreise

Once there was a boy by Dub Leffler

We all sleep by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan

My Country by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan

At the Zoo I see

Big Fella Rain

Deep Diving

 

 

Mad Magpie by Gregg Dreise

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This is such a bright and fun book  for children of all ages. I was immediately drawn to the bright colours and the indigenous artwork – I just had to find out more about Mad Magpie by Gregg Dreise!

Mad Magpie is a book that states it is for anyone who has ever been picked on, which I am sure many children have.

The story follows magpie who has been teased by the Butcher Birds. He doesn’t know how to manage his anger or ignore the Butcher birds so turns to swooping.

The elders are there to help Guluu (magpie) and eventually he learns to ignore the bullies, be calm and be at peace. The other birds soon learnt too that it wasn’t any fun teasing and soon enough the bird world was at peace.

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So what can you talk about as you read or after you read this book?

Bullying is the key issue here so talking about so here are some ideas you can talk about:

How we feel when others bully us

how we feel when we tease others

why do we tease others?

why do others tease us?

Can you think of a time when you have been teased?

How did it make you feel & why did they tease you?

If talking about this is hard – and it can be. Ask children to draw a magpie. Write in the left wing: How I feel when I am teased. Right wing: What do I do when I am teased. Body: How can I be strong like Guluu? Tail: How can I be calm like Guluu? If children need to talk about a time when they were teased let them – it is good to discuss these events and reflect on what they can do if it happens again.

There may also be a need to talk about peer pressure. Here we could use the birds again but have a group of butcher birds drawn up. In there heads write how we feel when we tease others. Wings – actions we take when we tease others. Body: How we feel after we tease others. Tail – what can we do if we feel this pressure again?

Kidsmatter is a great site full of resources that help to build social and emotional intelligence in children.

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ACPPS055 | Content description | Years 5 and 6 | Health and Physical Education | Personal, Social and Community Health | Communicating and interacting for health and wellbeing  

ACPPS037 | Content description | Years 3 and 4 | Health and Physical Education | Personal, Social and Community Health | Communicating and interacting for health and wellbeing