Australian stories are being brought back to life through Reading Australia.
In a first for Australian schools, teachers can now source dedicated teaching resources for Australian stories, from Kindergarten to Year 12.
The Reading Australia website, set up by the not-for-profit rights organisation, the Copyright Agency, provides teaching resources for books, plays and poetry anthologies from top Aussie authors such as Tim Winton, Jackie French, Peter Carey and Pamela Allen.
“We want our children to have the very best literary education,” says Copyright Agency’s CEO, Murray St Leger.
“Our research found that in recent years Australian books, both classic and modern, were being taught less in schools. Some of them were out of print. But the main reason has been a lack of easy-to-find, high quality teaching resources linked to the curriculum,” St Leger says.
“So we’ve sought out the best teachers to develop the resources and we’ve also engaged leading authors to write essays responding to many of the books.
“As the school year begins to wind up again, the teachers we’ve spoken to about this resource have been genuinely enthusiastic,” St Leger says.
“Our focus groups have told us they love the accessibility of the resources, the quality is high, and they will be more likely to introduce their students to these books because of the resources.
“And the good news is, we’re adding more resources to the website all the time.”
The Reading Australia initiative is the legacy of departing Board Director Brian Johns – who spent 13 years on the Copyright Agency’s Board, including six years as chair. The book titles were chosen by the Australian Society of Authors’ Council and the resources have been written by teachers from all over the country under the auspices of the Primary English Teaching Association of Australia, Australian Literacy Educators’ Association, the Australian Association for the Teaching of English and the English Teachers Association NSW.
Professor of Teacher Education and the Arts at Sydney University, and President of the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association, Robyn Ewing, described the resources as “outstanding and extremely valuable for teachers”.
“The breadth of this project encompassing primary, secondary and tertiary literary texts, resources including scholarly essays is, to my knowledge, a unique initiative in Australia.
“Reading Australia is a really important development for teachers, pre-service teachers, tertiary educators, children and young people as well as for school and university communities.”