This is an updated version of a post that originally appeared on the Copyright Agency’s website.
Reading Australia has reached its largest ever readership, with a total of 230 freely-available resources to assist with the teaching of books by Australian writers.
Originally launched in 2013 to showcase Australia’s rich literary heritage and encourage more people to read Australian literature, Reading Australia has become an invaluable asset for teachers looking to introduce homegrown titles into the classroom.
Over the last four years, the number of subscribers to Reading Australia has increased from 5,000 to almost 22,000 – 85% of whom are teachers, librarians and teacher librarians.
There has also been a marked increase in resource usage over the last three years, with close to 34,000 lessons downloaded at the height of the pandemic in April 2020.
“Australian stories – in their diversity and vitality – reveal who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going,” says Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling. “Reading Australia’s 22,000-subscriber milestone is a testament not only to the quality of the resources, but also to the ongoing relevance and resonance that the stories have for teachers and students around the country.”
There are now 92 primary and 138 secondary resources, spanning Foundation to Year 12 and linking closely to the Australian curriculum and cross-curriculum priorities. They range from classics like Storm Boy (Colin Thiele), Tomorrow, When the War Began (John Marsden) and Are We There Yet? (Alison Lester) to more recent releases like Past the Shallows (Favel Parrett) and Dark Emu (Bruce Pascoe). Miles Franklin Literary Award-winner Too Much Lip (Melissa Lucashenko) and the highly-acclaimed Jasper Jones (Craig Silvey) are among the latest additions.
“The units are carefully written to support busy teachers,” says Wendy Bean from the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA). “They appreciate the support Reading Australia provides as a trustworthy place to find quality teaching materials to bring rich discussion around texts into their classrooms.”
With resources written for teachers, by teachers, Reading Australia has kept pace with growing interest in books explaining diversity, social issues, gender fluidity and the impacts of climate change and COVID-19. It has been especially successful in promoting First Nations writing and giving teachers the confidence to explore these works in a respectful and culturally-sensitive manner.
“English teachers, their schools and their curriculum authorities have become far more aware and responsive to the Australian literature landscape and are increasingly including more Australian texts into their reading and study programs,” says Phil Page from the Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE). “We are now seeing more inclusive local and state-based curricula and a broadening of the content of prescribed or recommended text lists.”
Teachers can sign up to the newsletter for free and be the first to hear about new resources, along with opportunities such as competitions and the annual $15,000 Fellowship for Teachers of English and Literacy (via the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund).