Alexander Wharton is halfway through his year-long Reading Australia Fellowship, and he’s been reading up a storm! He shares his teacher perspective on the books that have inspired him and educated him, just in time for the school holidays.

You can follow his journey as the Reading Australia Fellow at The Missing Peace, where he blogs about the things he’s learnt from his research. Learn more about his project here.

Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books, 2019)

I read the special schools/young readers edition of the award-winning Dark Emu. This text asks its readers to consider a truer history of Australia’s pre-European culture.

Finding Eliza by Larissa Behrendt (UQP, 2016)

Behrendt has presented a thoughtful interrogation around the way in which stereotypes are presented in colonial storytelling.

Jandamarra and the Bunuba Resistance by Banjo Woorunmurra and Howard Pedersen (Magabala Books, 2011)

This is a compelling text for the secondary classroom in which the true story of resistance fighter, Jandamarra, challenges the last stage of Australia’s invasion.

Women of the Sun by Hyllus Maris, Sonia Borg (Penguin Books Australia, 1987)

Later made into a successful miniseries, this four-part novel follows a different female hero in each section, showing the changing status of first nation women in Australia. 

Ruby Moonlight by Ali Cobby Eckermann (Magabala Books, 2012)

Set in South Australia in 1880, this verse novel explores the impact of colonisation with sparse language and rich character.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville (Text Publishing, 2005)

Grenville’s historical novel deals with identity, ownership and a sense of belonging, and the writing presents the reality of settler life.

Dancing With Strangers by Inga Clendinnen (Text Publishing, 2003)

Celebrated for the lyrical writing, this is a rich and vivid account of January 1788 when the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour and met the First Nations inhabitants.