The theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week is ‘Our History, Our Story, Our Future’, reflecting the essential part storytelling plays in the journey towards reconciliation.
Reading Australia supports learning about Indigenous culture through more than 20 teacher resources created for books by Indigenous writers and illustrators, or featuring Indigenous characters. As well, the Copyright Agency has recently gone into partnership with Indigenous publishing house, Magabala Books, to have ten new teacher resources created for their titles.
Read on to discover eight of Reading Australia’s primary and secondary texts featuring Indigenous themes.
Do Not Go Around the Edges
This picture book celebrates Indigenous family, beliefs and culture in a part-autobiography, part-poetry format, and is illustrated using a mix of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal art. Daisy Utemorrah’s life story, told along the bottom of the pages, is interlaced with the poems and illustrations, creating a rich and textured book.
Big Rain Coming
Big Rain Coming is about a present-day Indigenous Outback community waiting for a much anticipated rain storm. Artist Bronwyn Bancroft creates illustrations from an Indigenous perspective, drawing on her understanding of Aboriginal culture and landscape. Her vivid, saturated colours and Aboriginal motifs represent the Dreaming creation story.
Yirruwa Yirrilikenuma-langwa/When We Go Walkabout
For many Aboriginal people English is not their first language, and they struggle in English-only schools. This beautiful picture book addresses the lack of bilingual education by being written in both English and Anindilyakwa, the language of the Indigenous community on Groote Eyelandt. Artist Alfred Lalara learnt how to paint in the style traditional in Groote Island in order to create the illustrations.
The Rainbow Serpent
There are hundreds of Aboriginal nations and many developed their own diverse creation stories. Artist Dick Roughsey, from the Mornington Island community that speak Lardil language, wrote and illustrated The Rainbow Serpent based on the creation myth of his people. This picture book, in which the serpent is given the Lardil name, Goorialla, has become an Australian classic.
The Tall Man
36-year-old Aboriginal man, Cameron Doomadgee, died while in police custody. He had four broken ribs, a bruised face, and severely damaged organs – and yet police claimed his death came about as a result of a fall. Chloe Hooper’s Walkley Award-winning work of nonfiction explores the unjust treatment and abuse faced by our Indigenous population and their overrepresentation in prison.
Jasper Jones is a half-Aboriginal, half-Anglo teenage outcast. He is always the first to be blamed by the country town he lives in for any crime or transgression that occurs. So when he discovers the body of his girlfriend he refuses to go to the police, knowing that small-town bigotry will mean he will be accused of murder. Though set in the 60s, Jasper’s experiences of racism and police brutality are still relevant today.
Bran Nue Dae
Australia’s first Aboriginal musical, Bran Nue Dae, is full of energy, colour and irreverent humour. Both the 1990 stage version and the 2009 film challenges mainstream Australian preconceptions of what texts by and about Indigenous creators look like. It reminds us that joy and hope and celebration of life are very much a part of the Aboriginal experience.
Follow the Rabbit-proof Fence
This memoir recalls the period of the Stolen Generations during which Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families, as well as their language and culture. This is the courageous true story of three young Aboriginal girls who were placed in a government settlement and escaped, making the incredible journey across the Western Australian desert to get home again.