Introductory activities

Narrative organises and shapes our understanding of the world. Through vicarious experiences with texts, students test their perceptions of their worlds against those represented in texts. In the following learning sequences students analyse and experiment with the key concepts of context, genre, character and point of view, reflecting on how they operate in texts and how they influence the ways we respond to texts.

Central to this study is an exploration of Jasper Jones as an example of the bildungsroman genre. Students explore the way the narrative is driven by a protagonist who is responsive to and inseparable from the social world depicted in the text. It is a coming-of-age novel featuring a character who moves from innocence to knowledge. Students examine whether there are connections to be drawn between their own worlds and values and those represented in the story world of the novel.

The activities in this resource are designed to introduce key concepts with which students will engage through their close study of the novel, and which are directly transferable to other related texts. Learning sequences are framed around inquiries into the concepts of context, genre, and point of view as represented in the statements on the English Textual Concepts™ website. These concepts are mapped to the Australian Curriculum: English content.

Teachers should note that whilst this resource is presented as a complete unit of study over five or six weeks, it does contain a broad range of learning activities and tasks from which teachers can select to suit their own particular contexts/needs.


In this learning sequence students consider how texts are aesthetic and cultural constructions that are shaped by the contexts of both author and reader. They see how the author has crafted a text that offers a particular perspective on specific historical, cultural and literary contexts. In responding to the text, the student is always aware of the presence of the author. In responding to Jasper Jones, students are required to draw on contextual knowledge, both historical and contemporary, as well as intertextual connections. In these activities students reflect on how texts portray particular social values.

1. The White Australia Policy

Introduce the concept of context to students by alerting students to the White Australia Policy used by various Australian state governments from 1901 to 1973. Introducing Jasper Jones through context is a means of familiarising students with the prevailing attitudes and policies that were part of Australian cultural life in the 1960s. The attitudes suggested by this government policy can also be drawn on later in considering the characterisation of Jeffrey Lu and his family. One arresting way is to have students undertake a sample dictation test used during this period, such as the one below.

The swagman wrapped his gnarled and desiccated digits round his minuscule ukulele and with prodigious and egregious deficiency of musicology essayed a resounding cacophonous rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ that caused a phobic frog to hurl itself suicidally into a brackish billabong. (Colley History)

Having completed the dictation test, have students determine their view of its suitability and then point out to students some of the conditions for this test (only three mistakes allowed, passage spoken once, pausing after every couple of words for a few seconds).
(ACELA1563)   (EN5-4B)

Pose some discussion starters for students: 
  • How do composers use language to establish authority and position responders?
  • Speculate on why this text would be used as the dictation test in 1960s Australia and what values are implied.
  • Examine how language is used to position those taking the test.

(ACELA1564)   (EN5-5C)

Writing activity

Read the poem ‘An Oz Tale’ by Ouyang Yu. Discuss the paradoxical ideas relating to identity and Australian culture that are presented in a matter-of-fact tone. Use any of the paradoxical images as a stimulus for a piece of imaginative writing in which cultural identity is explored.

For more contextual information and activities on the White Australia Policy, refer to the ABC Education Digibook on this topic.
(ACELA1565)   (EN5-4B)

2. Protest and social change

Invite students to discuss any badges they have encountered that represent contemporary social debates. Display for students a series of Australian badges that represent recent social issues or events, badges commenting on climate change, press freedom, anti-racism and refugees. Badge topics could include:

Other specific badge examples are located at Stop the Racists! and Wear Your Colours. In reviewing these badges, students identify and discuss:

  • the subject matter
  • the linguistic and visual choices, the use of inclusive or polarising language
  • the values they represent and whether the students agree with the position they take (the anti-racism badge’s evolution is particularly interesting)
  • what these badges say about the world we live in.

Jasper Jones is set in a small country town in Western Australia in the mid-1960s, the beginning of a time of cultural questioning and change in Australia. Divide students into groups and allocate each group one of the badges listed above, and have them determine the focus of the protest and whether such protest would have any currency today using the same aspects they have previously considered:

  • the subject matter
  • the linguistic and visual choices, inclusive or polarising language
  • the values they represent and whether the students agree with the position they take (how do their values as readers influence their responses to texts?)
  • the questions these badges were raising about Australian cultural values.

Have students draw on their own experiences to consider whether the perspectives suggested in the badges are prevalent today.

Students could then choose two of these badges and update them for today’s context. The nature of the alteration will depend on the student’s point of view and how they wish to position the responder in relation to the particular cause. Students should also include a justification that accounts for how their language choices address the context (words, layout, colour, size), whether they have observed much change regarding the issues behind the chosen badges and whether, and why, they have chosen to use either inclusive or polarising language.
(ACELA1566)   (EN5-1A)

3. The changing role of women

The characterisation of adults in Jasper Jones is a key area for exploration. In this activity students explore the changing role of women in 1960s Australia as preparation for reflecting on the character of Ruth Bucktin.

Before studying the related texts below, discuss with students how advertising operates as a mirror to our lives.

Simultaneously display for students this beer advertisement from 1965 and this image from March 1965 where Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bogner have chained themselves to the bar of the Regatta Hotel in Brisbane in order to challenge the prevailing view of the time, that women were not served in public bars in hotels. Discuss these questions with the class:

  • What do you notice about the representations of men and women in this advertisement and photograph from 1965?
  • If we assume that the beer advertisement is a mirror to Australian domestic life in the sixties, what is this society like?
  • How do you think people felt? What particular values are suggested here?
  • What patterns of representation do you see?
  • What might happen when you reverse these patterns?

Have students in small groups create a script/advertisement/role play that interrogates the assumptions in these texts; for example, if men were being excluded from the sale of some item, women having an equal role with men.
(ACELA1572)   (EN5-2A)

Context, character and point of view

In this sequence students are introduced to Charlie and Jasper by exploring an extract from the novel, a poem and an artwork, ‘becauseitisbitter’. This is an intertextual artwork by Vernon Ah Kee which uses text (especially in the language of the colonisers) to reveal the underlying racism in Australian society.

  • Display for students Stephen Crane’s poem ‘In the desert’ and have them write down the specific pictures the poem brought to mind on the first reading. Actively applying imagination illustrates to students that to engage with a poem is to make representations of the text based on their own disposition and experience.
  • In discussion, have students describe what they imagined. They could mention the place, time of day, who or what they thought the creature and friend were. Have them describe how the friend appeared and behaved.
  • Ask students what they felt when they imagined the poem. They might comment on the emotions of the creature and the friend. Very likely they will also comment on how they responded to the poem and what they imagined when they read the poem. These discussions will draw out interpretations of the author’s tone and attitude, and commentary on the symbolism of the heart.
  • Display for students the artwork ‘becauseitisbitter’ and discuss with students how Vernon Ah Kee has chosen to represent the poem:
    • the bold black and white font
    • the change in the title of the two works (do students think this shifts the meaning of the poem?)
    • the effect of the compression of the words with no spaces and how this influences the act of reading.
  • Introduce this extract from Jasper Jones and display it next to the Ah Kee artwork and have students identify the resonances between the extract and the artwork:

I turn to Jasper. He looks exhausted. And it occurs to me that there is no break in this for him, there’s no comfort, nowhere he can go and lie down and be looked after. Not anymore. If he had anywhere in this world, it’s the place we’ve just come from; the place that has just broken his heart and put him at risk. He’s right: shit has been taken from him his whole life.

He looks done in and drunk, but he arches his back with a jolt, projecting that toughness again.” (p. 51)

  • Provide students with a definition of point of view and how it operates in narrative. Mention that point of view in the novel Jasper Jones involves understanding that Craig Silvey engineers what we see and how we relate to the situation, characters or ideas in the text. In the novel, the point of view is expressed through a narrator, Charlie Bucktin, and because we are invited to adopt this point of view, the readers might align themselves with the character of Charlie. It’s important that students understand that Charlie is not the author of the text.
  • Ask students to explain Charlie’s view of Jasper in the extract above. Have them identify and discuss how language is used to present Charlie’s perspective. Consider:
    • the emphatic use of ‘no’
    • the emotional rhythm of the syntax
    • the absence of ‘place’ for Jasper;

and how together these are means by which Silvey positions the responder to have empathy for Jasper.
(ACELA1570)   (EN5-3B)

Southern Gothic tradition

Craig Silvey has stated that his interest in the Southern Gothic was one of the influences on the creation of Jasper Jones. Have students research elements of this genre and note how texts characteristic of this style often portray rural settings, which may seem idyllic, but are actually built on social and historical repressions that create a sense of alienation for particular groups – places where injustice is often institutionalised. In the case of America, these often refer to racism, slavery and the patriarchy. These texts aim to tell the ‘whole story’ rather than just the story of the dominant social and cultural groups. Indeed, often they substitute the supernatural with real lives lived in a realistic gothic horror situation, exploring the tropes of corrupt authorities, death and destruction. The Southern Gothic explores ‘the other’ – those existing on the borderlands of society.
(ACELT1639)   (EN5-4B)

Binary oppositions

Revisit the poem ‘An Oz Tale’ from the earlier writing activity and revisit the paradoxes presented. Using these images from the poem, explain to students the concept of a binary opposition (related terms that are opposite in meaning). Have students complete the following table in which they identify the binary opposite and make some notes based on their initial response to Jasper Jones and how cultural expectations were evident.

Binary opposite 1  Binary opposite 2 Cultural expectations in the text 
white black

(ACELT1640)   (EN5-2A)

Personal response on reading the text

Questions and comments while reading the text

  • As they read Jasper Jones, have students add their questions, comments and reflections online using a free collaborative note-making tool. The whole class can contribute to the virtual mind map of thoughts expressed, and it is particularly helpful when new ideas are presented. The intention is for students to feel challenged by something they read, and to want to question aspects of the text and reflect more broadly. This can be revisited at any point in the unit.
  • Students can undertake a reading log as they progress through Jasper Jones and track their response to Charlie’s point of view in the text. This will serve as a particularly rich resource for later reflection in the Close Study section of this unit.

(ACELT1641)   (EN5-5C)

Personal connections with own experience

  • Students should review the Racism No Way website timeline tool with a particular focus on the 1960s. Reinforce the hurtful nature of discrimination/racism and its impact, both in Jasper Jones and possibly even in their own lives. Students are to write in their journals and identify a time when they felt that they had to be courageous in the face of racism or discrimination. What did this look and feel like? Students can share in small groups their journal entries and seek to contribute a class anthology of writings on this topic.
  • With the popularity of the Growing Up in Australia non-fiction series (Asian, Aboriginal, African, Queer, Disabled), have students write about their own experience of growing up in Australia. Read some extracts of the short non-fiction pieces of writing from these texts. As a class, discuss the point of view included and analyse the language used. Have students then title their own piece of writing about ‘Growing up ______ in Australia’ and compose a personal reflection piece around their own coming-of-age experience.

(ACELY1749)   (EN5-1A)

Identification with characters and situations

  • One-minute speech activity: Have students reflect and consider which character they most identify with and why. Give students 10 minutes to prepare for this activity in class, indicating that they are to use one quote/example from the novel to support their identification. The speech format is informal, and has the prescribed one-minute time limit which allows all students in the class to share their character identifications in a single lesson.
  • Set up four different stations in the classroom which students rotate through. These stations each have specific prompts and questions which students respond to based on the characters and their circumstances in the novel. As they rotate in small groups, the questions are designed to aid reflection and identification with characters and situations.
    1. What was the most surprising thing about Jasper Jones?
    2. What moment in the novel made you most uncomfortable?
    3. Choose one character and share with others the time(s) when you were most proud of them for something they did or said.
    4. Identify one moment in the novel where you laughed/smiled/felt a warm ‘glow’ about them.

(ACELY1751)   (EN5-3B)

Reflection on completion of the text

  • Have students reflect via writing how they felt upon finishing reading the text. This reflection might also include the reasons and significance as to why the text continues to be such a success, as well as its changing shape (film, play) and international interest. Do students recognise and appreciate this ongoing celebration, based on their reading of the text? Craig Silvey’s website has some excellent content in relation to this.
  • Discuss as a class the feelings readers have when texts are completed. Debrief as a class about some of the feelings, and identify the mood that comes from completing the text.
  • Students can add a journal entry in their reading logs of their feelings and experiences of the novel, and their reflections now that the novel has been completed.

(ACELA1571)   (EN5-3B)

Outline of key elements of the text


Zoom out and in activity

Zoom out for ‘big picture’ thinking by dividing the class in half, and have each group of students decide on the top 10 plot elements of Jasper Jones. Organise the two groups to share their plot elements. What is similar in the lists? What is different?

Now divide the class into quarters. Students have to compose a plot overview of Jasper Jones in five sentences. Have the groups share and consider what was included and excluded in terms of content. Finally, have each student write their own six-word summary of what Jasper Jones is about. Six-word stories is a well known convention of synthesis and summary. Zoom in on the detail by sharing this synthesised review and then creating posters to reflect these key ideas that students have identified.


The main characters in Jasper Jones are: Jasper Jones, Charlie Bucktin, Jeffrey Lu, Eliza Wishart and Mad Jack Lionel. Discuss with students the concept of stereotypes and have them consider the ways in which the characters represent different elements of small town Corrigan. Consider the nature of point of view – the other characters in the novel are characterised through the eyes of Charlie via first-person narrative voice.

To assist in the development of strong visual imagery used in the text, each character’s name could appear on an A3 piece of paper displayed around the classroom, and as new information is learnt about them as the text is engaged with, they could have that information (via quotes) added to the character’s piece of paper. Students could also create visual posters of the characters, based on the descriptions provided by Charlie in the text.


There are various themes (big ideas) within the novel that are appropriate to the Australian Gothic and bildungsroman or coming-of-age genres. Students are to select a few of the listed themes below and map them according to plot, character and context throughout the novel. In their discussion and consideration of these, students should seek to identify relevant examples and also seek to explain what the significance of this example is. Themes in Jasper Jones include:

  • appearances and perceptions
  • innocence and guilt
  • coming-of-age (bildungsroman)
  • identity and personal voice
  • courage and fear
  • strength of character and personal growth
  • racism, stereotyping and prejudice
  • deception and honesty
  • escapism

(ACELT1639)   (EN5-2A)

Synthesising activity

Conversations that curate context

Revise with students conventions of dialogue and conversation, including how these are structured and presented.

Students are to select one of the characters from Jasper Jones to be in conversation with a person of a similar demographic but who lives in Perth, Western Australia in the 1960s. The conversation is to focus around life and society in Corrigan and how that is similar/different to life and society in the capital in the same era. To assist with this task, students should view this 18-minute clip about life in Western Australia (Perth) in the 1960s from the National Film and Sound Archives.

With this clip as a stimulus, the conversations should draw out other aspects of context that have shaped Jasper Jones including the White Australia Policy, fears of communism, gender roles, Indigenous rights, and the Vietnam War.

Students should plan their responses prior to writing. Once their conversations have been written and edited, students could role-play their scripts with another class member, including possible presentation with costume and set. Alternatively, students could record their conversations via film or audio and present them to the class.
(ACELT1641)   (ACELT1812)   (ACELY1751)   (ACELY1757)   (EN5-1A)   (EN5-3B)

The writer’s craft

Character and characterisation

Refer to the English textual concept of character, coming back to the point that textual representation of character is a fictional construct.

Discuss with students the concept of stereotypes. What purpose do they serve and how have they been used in literature and life? Have students in small groups share their concepts about different stereotypes that they might be aware of, even from just what they know in their immediate worlds (students, teachers, parents, grandparents, athletes, celebrities, etc.). Discuss with students the nature of stereotypes within Jasper Jones.

  • How do we see Silvey using stereotypes as a part of his approach to characterisation in the novel, and what purpose does this approach serve?

One way to apply this discussion to the text is to have students draw up a Venn diagram that compares Charlie and Jasper in relation to their personalities and home description, as presented early in the novel (pp. 5–15).

  • What aspects of stereotyping do we see early on in the novel?
  • How does this help Silvey achieve his purpose?
Values sort activity
  • Students select two characters: one that they think is the story’s most admirable character, and one that is the least admirable.
  • State three virtues and vices for each character.
  • Discuss those values with a partner.
  • Circle three of your character’s worst values and invert them to see how closely they align to your own, and (as narrator) to Charlie’s, values?
  • How does context influence these responses?

(ACELA1566)   (ACELT1639)   (EN5-6C)


Discuss with students how Charlie is essential in epitomising the bildungsroman (coming-of-age) aspects in the novel. Students could consider the way language is used to position Charlie as being in awe of Jasper: ‘I stick close behind [to Jasper], like a loyal and leash-less dog’ (p. 10). Once the innocence of Charlie is established to the reader early in the novel, the tone quickly shifts towards one of awareness: ‘And it happens just like that. Like when you first realise there is no such thing as magic. Or that nothing actually answers your prayers, or really even listens … when you’re disarmed by a shard of knowing’ (p. 18).

As per the discussion above, Charlie is a stereotype. There are ongoing references to his representation as being weedy, intelligent, a wearer of glasses, not sporty, pubescent. His time with Jasper is his first ever transgression and he regrets going very much – thinking to himself, ‘I want to leave,’ (p. 15) and saying to Jasper, ‘Why would you bring me here? I shouldn’t be here. I have to go back home’ (p. 13).

  • Have students complete a timed writing task that addresses evidence that Charlie is a stereotype, based on student examples from the text.
  • Read with the class Charlie’s interior monologue on page 25. Undertake close analysis of this writing, including the speech rhythms that reflect the pace and upheaval of the situation. Have students reflect on the impact of the italics for emphasis, as well as the repetition of the same sentence beginnings in this monologue.
  • Consider the rhythm of prose on page 11 beginning from the last paragraph ‘And I believe’. Trace the use of anaphora of ‘I would … I would … I would never …’ and reflect with students on the relationship of diction and the voice of Charlie in this passage. Photocopy this page for students and have them white out the words after the sentence stems where Charlie says ‘I would/would never’. Discuss how this phrasing both visually and metaphorically represents Charlie in his following of Jasper, showing the transition from innocence to knowledge.
  • Have students examine the language used to show Charlie’s sense of detachment when he is in a moral crisis (p. 32). Consider the way in which language is used to represent his detachment and his heightened anxiety on a continuum.
  • Read page 54 as a class and consider the ways that Charlie represents himself. How does this description and self-reflection contribute to the bildungsroman aspects of the text?
  • Consider with students how Silvey characterises Charlie so that he (Charlie), as a narrator, establishes contact with the audience? Ask students to record on post-it notes their opinion in response to the question: ‘Do you, as a reader, have respect for Charlie?’ These post-its can be displayed for students to read each other’s responses and discuss dominant trends and views as a class.
  • Assist students to analyse Charlie’s stance, as narrator, on the action of the story, the behaviour of the characters, the influence of place. Are Charlie’s attitudes obvious, clear or hidden? What does Charlie approve and disapprove of? Students should refer to evidence in the text to support their thinking.

(ACELT1639)   (ACELT1640)   (ACELT1641)   (EN5-3B)


  • Have students critique the characterisation of Jasper as the ‘other’. Note the way that he is marginalised, presented as a scapegoat. And Jasper knows it – he is more knowing than Charlie. Jasper knows he is ‘othered’; discuss Jasper’s awareness with students: ‘Because [the police] are gonna come here, see that it’s my place, they’ll see her face, they’ll see she’s bin knocked around, they’ll see that it’s my rope. They’ll charge me and put me away, mate. No questions’ (p. 18).
  • Consider with students that Jasper’s dialogue is full of active verbs, incorrect syntax, slang, colloquialisms and the stoicism of his identity. Jasper is strategic, careful, the complete opposite of how the town sees him – this is not a tear-away individual! What is Silvey communicating here about this important character?
  • Spend time reflecting on the role of place in the novel, and how this works for characterisation. The clearing is Jasper’s own place; he has a clear connection to the land (p. 15). How does the juxtaposition in tone of, ‘But it is clear that something very violent has happened in this still space’ (p. 17) jar the reader and affect the portrayal of Jasper?
  • Jasper’s assessment of Corrigan proves to be true. Whilst Jasper is an outsider, he is an insightful outsider. Review this excerpt below and consider how this relates back to the textual concept of context:

‘See, everyone here’s afraid of something and nuthin. This town, that’s how they live, and they don’t even know it. They stick to what they know, what they bin told. They don’t unnerstand that it’s just a choice you make.’ I raise my head and look Jasper in the eye. ‘I mean, I know people have always bin afraid of me. Kids specially, but old people too. Wary. They reckon I’m just half an animal with half a vote. That I’m no good. And I always used to think, why? They don’t even know me. Nobody does. It never made sense. But then I realised, that’s exactly why. That’s all it is. It’s so stupid, Charlie. But it means I don’t hate them anymore’ (p. 30).

  • Discuss with students how the extract above then contrasts with Charlie’s reflections of Jasper, presented below:

But aside from that, I trust him. I really do. And not because I have to. I think he’s probably the most honest person in this town. He has no reason to lie. He has no reputation to protect. Last night I never suspected him of pulling the wool. Not once. The way he talks to you, it’s like he’s incapable of being deceitful. He says things with such conviction that you’re sure he believes them to be true. It’s just a feeling you get (p. 55).

Students can draw out that this extract shows Charlie’s sense of intuition, and how it is pitted against adult perceptions. Further discuss as a class how this also shows bildungsroman conventions and elements.
(ACELT1639)   (ACELT1642)   (ACELT1774)   (EN5-2A)

Laura Wishart

Analyse with students Charlie’s description on seeing Laura in the clearing for the first time (p. 12). ‘Her head is to the side, like a piece of biblical art. She looks disappointed and sad. Surrendered.’ The diction of ‘surrendered’ foreshadows the resolution surrounding Laura’s death. Key details which paint a back story, with Jasper reflecting, ‘Listen. I know for a fact that her old man is no good. He’s worthless, and he drinks worse than mine’ (p. 27). This personal perspective of a violent tyrant at home serves as a juxtaposition to Laura’s father’s public profile, which is one of authority and respectability.

  • Discuss with students how Silvey has used the technique of characterisation to position a key character who enters the novel as deceased.

Read and reflect on the ways that Jasper shares with Charlie his time with Laura: ‘… she would sometimes get in these moods, where she just sat there quiet and never said nothing, but for some reason I understood that too’ (p. 43).

  • What does this characterisation reveal about Laura’s character?

(ACELT1639)   (ACELT1642)   (EN5-7D)

Wesley Bucktin

Wesley Bucktin is a teacher of Literature. This idealogical approach leaves him not grounded in the real world, but rather escaping to story worlds when his real world is imploding.

Have students consider why Silvey depicts Wesley’s stories as self-affirming when there is a need for instruction/philosophy/guidance from him as Charlie’s father. This very much influences and directs Charlie’s relationship with his father and influences his ability to process what he is going through.
(ACELT1639)   (ACELT1641)   (EN5-3B)

Point of view

Re-introduce students to the English textual concept of point of view.

Undertake with students a close study of point of view by considering the angle of vision, a concept of Lanser (1981) which relates to the speaker’s relationship to the message being sent. In Jasper Jones this can be applied to adult hypocrisy. Wilhelm & Smith (2010) in Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements suggest considering the concept of authority (of Charlie on the topic of adult hypocrisy) on the following continuum scales:

fully involved … to … uninvolved
omniscient … to … humanly limited
completely reliable … to … unreliable

Give students whiteboard markers and ask them to come up and indicate on the whiteboard where they think Charlie would be on the three scales identified above. Alternatively, students can vote with their feet by standing up and moving around on the continuum. Students need to be able to justify their choices, and in doing so may persuade other students to change their positions and thinking.

In discussing point of view with students, have them identify the fictional worldview of the narrator and how this perspective in turn determines the boundaries of the fictional world. Consider that as the novel is told from Charlie’s point of view, this affects the distance and pace in which the text moves. This is the use of focalisation: how a narrator positions a character in relation to the action. Encourage students when analysing Jasper Jones to consider the narrative intention, noting Silvey’s lyricism of mind – through Charlie as he relates purely to himself. This is recognisable for adolescents in their own way of thinking, and reflects bildungsroman conventions.

The reader sees/hears a range of points of view on aspects of the plot through Charlie’s window (figuratively and literally). Have students identify and analyse how a window acts as a motif in the novel in conjunction with point of view – the world coming to a formational narrator. Note that Jasper, Jeffrey, and Eliza all come to the window. This brings a point of view internal to each frame; the frames work together to develop the story and the characterisation of Charlie.

Have students identify moments in the novel where we see a character’s will contend with that of others. How does the use of point of view colour these situations and moments? It might be a situation where a character relates what’s happening to them in a summarised way, and Charlie as narrator evaluates them against a more global context. Wesley Bucktin’s role in the novel is an example of this.

Students should critique Charlie as their narrator. Students can do this via a ‘silent conversation’ activity in which the statements below are written on a piece of A3 paper, and are silently passed around the room for students to engage with via written expression. Students should be able to justify their positions and give evidence from the text to support their thinking. Possible statements could include (adapted from the English Textual Concepts website):

  • Charlie as a narrator is limited and deceptive.
  • The impact of Charlie’s point of view is engaging as a reader.
  • Charlie positions the reader effectively to be with the ‘hero’ (Jasper).
  • Charlie’s point of view seeks to mask the ideology of the text.
  • Charlie’s narration is satirical in tone.
  • We are positioned by Charlie’s point of view to have an emotional response.
  • Charlie’s point of view controls the meaning of a text and may be resisted.
  • Charlie establishes a relationship with the audience, offering a sense of authority (consider the stance of the narrator).
  • Craig Silvey is not too distant from Charlie as the narrator.
  • Is Charlie too self-interested? Sufficiently experienced? Sufficiently moral? Sufficiently emotionally balanced? Sufficiently knowledgeable?
  • Charlie relates to the audience as a reliable narrator.

Allow students to reflect on how Charlie’s point of view shapes the readers perception of Corrigan. In gaining awareness of the significance of journeying with Jasper and learning of Laura’s death, Charlie uses the simile, ‘like a snow-dome paperweight that’s been shaken’ (p. 23) to mirror the confined nature of the small mining town.

As a class read and consider Charlie’s introspection and point of view by reading page 51 closely. Consider the ways in which Charlie’s perspective does not necessarily equal the reader’s perspective, for example: ‘[Jasper] looks done in and drunk, but he arches his back with a jolt, projecting that toughness again’ (p. 51). For example, does the reader really believe that Jasper is ‘tough’?

Have students undertake the following activity independently and then come back and share as a class. Students are to read from ‘Now I walk side by side’ to ‘he treats me like I’m equal’ on page 50 and then examine Charlie’s personal evaluations and analyse the language used to show his perspective in this excerpt.

Charlie’s personal evaluation can then be contrasted with how he feels at the end of this chapter, from ‘And he’s gone’ to ‘And it’s over, for now’ on page 52.
(ACELT1639)   (ACELT1642)   (ACELT1812)   (EN5-2A)   (EN5-7D)

Text and meaning

Exploration of themes and ideas

The exploration and representation of both overt and implicit racism in Australia is peppered throughout the novel. This partly serves as a backdrop to the historical and social context (Vietnam War, White Australia Policy, Aboriginal rights), but also serves as a cultural symbol in the text. Drawing on the rewriting task below, which involves a retelling of the events of the attack on An Lu’s garden, discuss with students the role of bystanders and ‘upstanders’ in racism, and the ways in which a difference can be made between them. Students should undertake some analytical writing in which they seek to answer the question in an extended response:

  • How does understanding the social and cultural context of the novel help frame the way that racism is presented?

The way in which the ‘adult world’ is represented by Charlie highlights hypocrisy and deception. This examination is best explored through the sections on point of view and coming-of-age (bildungsroman) later in the unit. An extended response question to further draw this out is:

  • How does Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones explore the importance of truth?

Such a question brings great depth and opportunity for discussion and reflection as there are many different layers and levels at play for such a response. Students are also able to develop their skills in empathetic understanding and thinking – particularly when faced with that initial dilemma so early on of Jasper coming to the window, and Charlie choosing to follow first and then help Jasper (an important step in moving from innocence to knowing).

  • Discuss as a class what aspects of language (tone and point of view especially) Silvey employs early in the novel to evoke empathy – to show that Charlie does want to follow and assist Jasper.

(ACELT1640)   (ACELT1642)   (ACELY1776)   (EN5-2A)

Narrative meaning in context

Students should reflect on the narrative structure of Jasper Jones: its chapter forms, commencement in action, and the way the story is unfolded for us. In so doing, they can evaluate how successfully the reader was compelled and engaged. Students could critique the narrative’s meaning in context, asking if there was anything that could have been improved or done differently.

The following activities could be undertaken either by choice or distribution across the class grouping.

  • Have students consider how Silvey uses elements of style and characterisation to create a social commentary. How effectively was this done? How did the narrative communicate a central message or messages? How has Silvey used textual features such as structure, setting, parallels and contrasts, point of view, voice, language and style in the novel? Students can work together in pairs to find textual evidence to support their investigation.
  • Students may draw on their dramatic and video recording skills to dramatise the narrator’s point of view at key points in the novel. This could be done simply via a montage of freeze frames every few chapters to recap the main ideas, or as segments of role-play in dramatic re-enactments to highlight key moments of narrative tension. In so doing, students could reflect on the narrative being redirected into a different form. Does the main message stay the same? How does the communication method change and impact the narrative when a different medium is used? Following this, have students reflect on the nature of dramatising a written text, and foreshadow the text type adaptations that successfully exist for Jasper Jones, including the film and play (this is detailed in the Significance section of this resource).
  • Students may also revise their imaginative writing conventions to re-tell the ending of the novel (at Mad Lionel’s) in the voice of Jasper. In a subsequent session have students re-tell an extract from Eliza’s point of view after detailed language analysis of her voice. Finally, have students re-tell the incident of the garden attack on Jeffrey’s family from a helper’s perspective (Wesley Bucktin). Students can complete written reflections for these three writing exercises, by considering the nature of how shifts in narrative voice affected the text’s meaning.
  • In small groups students could analyse and dissect the ending. Was it credible? What could a sequel to Jasper Jones tell the story of?

(ACELT1641)   (ACELT1812)   (EN5-5C)

Synthesising task

Students are to prepare and deliver a multimodal presentation on the importance of Jeffrey Lu as a character in Jasper Jones. This presentation can be in any multi-modal format that seeks to engage an audience (PowerPoint presentation, drama, short film, podcast, vodcast/vlog, conversation, newspaper article, visual representation). The presentation must include textual evidence relating to Jeffery Lu to support the notion of his importance to the novel.

The focus of the presentation should be on how his character enhances the narrative and the important contribution he makes to it through his role in providing comic relief, the resilience he demonstrates and the cultural diversity, grounded in the historical backdrop of the Vietnam War, which he brings to Corrigan – making him a symbol of unity and power.
(ACELA1571)   (ACELT1639)   (ACELT1641)   (ACELT1642)   (ACELT1812)   (ACELY1756)   (ACELY1776)   (EN5-5C)   (EN5-7D)

Ways of reading the text

Different perspectives, different responses

Explain to students that texts can be ‘read’ and interpreted in different ways, according to the actual or adopted context of the reader. In developing a strong personal engagement with the text, students can enhance a personal response by testing their own reading of the text against those of others. Some ideas and activities relating to this are explored below.

Students could discuss the different aspects of these readings, and reflect if there is any one that they identify within their own response. Students could compose some written reflections in response to these ‘readings’, and seek to identify textual evidence to support their thinking.

1. Race

Draw on the historical context to frame race relations in the novel. How are people of different races depicted in Jasper Jones? Profile Jasper and consider the representations of him as a First Nations individual. What aspects of a postcolonial legacy do we see in the way he is treated? Is his collective treatment by the town similar or different to his treatment by other individuals? How does Corrigan respond to people of race and colour? Consider the varied treatment of the Lu family in the text. How would their treatment and experience be reflective of wider scenes across Australia in the 1960s? Is Corrigan only reflective of a small rural mining town – does it have resemblances to other smaller or larger communities, or is Corrigan unique in its treatment of those of different race, or ‘others’?

2. Gender

Have students identify and critique gender roles and expectations in the novel. Review the introductory activities in the Initial Response section of this unit that relate to gender roles. How has gender been framed in the novel? Does masculinity and femininity look different for different age groups? How are they reflective of the historical, social and cultural context and what do students make of this today? Have students consider how important gender and gendered roles are in the novel.

3. Dominant reading

This is a traditional reading in which the coming-of-age or bildungsroman aspect of the text would be emphasised for meaning and purpose. What do students make of this approach to the text? Is it as signifiant an element as it seems to be?

4. Resistant reading

This is a reading in which students analyse the most dominant reading of the text (traditional/conventional), and then seek to challenge it by posing arguments against its purported themes and issues and its implications for the novel’s characters and their actions. For example, this might involve a reading that sympathises with the situation of Ruth Bucktin.

5. Literary connections

Consider the rich use of allusions, intertextuality and influences from other literary sources that have been portrayed and used in the text. Students can discuss what these additional references do to enhance one’s reading of the text.

6. Ethics and morality

The dominant reading of this novel is that of a coming-of-age text, a convention of which is that there are a number of moral dilemmas and ethical challenges that individuals face. The characters’ responses to these situations reveal a snapshot of how others think and feel. Charlie as narrator is placed in a situation where he must question and challenge his conventional understanding of what is right and wrong. This aspect of the text is layered with meaning as Charlie wrestles with adult hypocrisy, as well as moving from innocence to knowledge regarding racism, romance and the implications of small town life.

The way in which Charlie wrestles with empathy, and not being able to understand and ‘walk in the shoes’ of others, is another example of this challenge. Review Chapter 3, which deals with Charlie’s research into Eric Edgar Cooke and his self-imposed barriers to empathy and understanding.
(ACELT1641)   (ACELT1642)   (ACELT1812)   (ACELY1752)   (EN5-5C)

Comparison with other texts

Versions of the text in other modes, media and contexts

The play

The play (script) version of Jasper Jones is an adaptation of the novel written by Kate Mulvany and, as is the novel, communicated from Charlie’s perspective (soliloquies and inner monologues abound). The script is available for purchase from the Australian Plays website. Students can read a play extract for free and discuss the way in which the narrative and characters have been adapted for a different medium. Students could act out part of the extract in class.

Have students listen to the ABC Radio National podcast in which Silvey, Mulvany and two actors from the play discuss the novel as an adaptation.

  • Discuss with students what choices and decisions would have been made by Mulvany for the adaptation and the impact she desired to see for a theatre audience (collective), as opposed to a reader audience (individual).
  • Students could consider the effect of shifting the form from novel to the stage, and who the intended audience might be.

Students can collaboratively conduct research online, sharing their research in a Google Slide as they look up different play posters and moments captured from different stage versions of Jasper Jones from across Australia. There are some excellent staging and set designs captured, and students should seek to identify the use of symbols and props in bringing the story to life on the stage. Students could also draw on textual evidence from the novel to share when and where they think this particular moment is taking place.

  • Students could discuss the implications for staging the text, and what particular ideas, scenes and local contexts they would consider and seek to replicate from the novel.
  • Students could undertake a script writing activity in which they choose a moment or action sequence from the novel Jasper Jones and rewrite it into a stage play scene, complete with dialogue and stage directions.

Searching on YouTube ‘Jasper Jones the play’ reveals a number of play/theatre trailers (often 30 seconds long). Students in small groups could choose one trailer and present a critique of it to the class, discussing elements of style and analysing the nature of representation that is captured in the trailer.

View with students this news clip of rural school students in South Australia traveling 300 kilometres to Adelaide to view a stage production of Jasper Jones. What emerges from the clip as points of connection and identification for the students? Reflect on the quote from the State Theatre Company South Australia’s Education Manager, Fiona Lukac: ‘You don’t always find your own stories. To be able to see something on stage … [and say] that’s me, I know this, it’s a wonderful feeling of connection.’

  • How might the play version of Jasper Jones seek to connect with audiences in a different way from the novel?

(ACELA1566)   (ACELA1572)   (ACELT1639)   (ACELT1640)   (ACELT1641)   (ACELY1752)   (EN5-5C)

The film

Craig Silvey co-wrote the screenplay for the film, Jasper Jones: ‘In novels, anything is possible. Screenplays don’t have that freedom … it made me a more efficient writer’ (Craig Silvey on taking Jasper Jones from book to screen). Organise for students to reflect on what Silvey is saying here about the writing process. Students could complete a writing activity in which they write about a situation in one form – say, in a short story format – and then write about the same situation in another form and reflect on their experiences as writers for both formats.

Share with students the article Jasper Jones and the Art of Adept Adaptation. The idea underpinning this reflective piece is that it can be a challenge for an author to adapt their own original work for a new medium. In this instance, Silvey as co-writer for the screenplay presented an opportunity to improve the story of Jasper Jones. Discuss with students this concept.

View the Jasper Jones film trailer (two minutes thirteen seconds) with students via YouTube. Compare this trailer with the US film trailer, also on YouTube, and have students note and account for the differences. Discuss the nature of representation of the text from a novel to cinematic form. How does the film trailer influence and inform a reading of the novel?

Watch the short film ‘Finding Corrigan’ (three minutes) in which director Rachel Perkins discusses the nature of setting and location for an authentic representation of Corrigan. Have students discuss what aspects of the physical landscape and setting from the novel are most important, and re-watch the film trailer to see how this has been included.

Students can research online the different examples of the Jasper Jones film poster that exist. Students should use their visual literacy skills to analyse these film posters as representations according to audience and purpose. For extension, students can access the professional photo gallery available on the Jasper Jones film Instagram account and recaption these images with quotes from the novel.

View with students the promotional extract of the Jasper Jones film chosen for promotion on NITV. Have students reflect on why this particular excerpt was chosen and what is the desired effect?
(ACELA1566)   (ACELA1572)   (ACELT1639)   (ACELT1640)   (ACELT1641)   (ACELY1752)   (ACELY1756)   (EN5-3B)

Other texts using similar approaches or dealing with similar ideas 

Ongoing allusion to American gothic writers of the South is something Silvey self-references on his website when reflecting on the composition of Jasper Jones. Students could research some of the writers referred to (i.e. Twain, Capote, Lee) and access some of their work.

  • What influences and effects are evident in Jasper Jones that could be connected to this style of writing?
  • In small groups, students can read extracts of Truman Capote’s A Christmas MemoryAs a key influence for Silvey, students can identify elements of the Southern Gothic genre and style which is synonymous with this text.

There is an extensive range of quality Australian writers and texts that deals with coming-of-age issues that would serve as excellent related material. Use the search tab on the Reading Australia website to filter results according to age and theme. The Australian Literary Studies Journal and Australian book review website Whispering Gums also have an excellent list of coming-of-age fiction titles. Students could identify a title that sounds interesting to them, and undertake some further wide reading, or complete a literature circle/book box mini unit inside this one, where students do more reading and thinking on this topic.

Furthermore, in considering the Australian literary landscape in relation to this topic, it can be approached through specific cultural lenses such as the important Growing Up in Australia series (Asian, Aboriginal, African, Queer, Disabled), Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung, The Boat by Nam Le, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, and The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke.

The consideration of First Nations perspectives on coming-of-age could be explored through texts such as Becoming Kirrali Lewis by Jane Harrison, Bran Nue Dae by Jimmy Chi, Grace Beside Me by Sue McPherson, and Songs that Sound Like Blood by Jared Thomas.

Texts across diverse time periods might include plays Away by Michael Gow and Hotel Sorrento by Hannie Rayson. Texts with evocative settings that pertain to coming-of-age texts include Zac and Mia by A. J. Betts, Breath by Tim Winton (winner of the 2009 Miles Franklin Award), The Divine Wind by Garry Disher, By the River by Steven Herrick, The White Earth by Andrew McGahan, and Boy on a Wire by Jon Doust. Non-fiction texts also contribute much on coming-of-age stories, including the memoirs Romulus, My Father by Raimond Gaita, A Mother’s Disgrace by Robert Dessaix and Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks.

As well as the specific titles above, considering the wider representation of coming-of-age issues in an Australian context, teachers could refer to the blog Rites of Passage in Australia (some sensitive material).

Internationally, the text The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (novel 1999, film 2012) is often cited as one of the most recognised coming-of-age texts, enjoying great popularity. Less cited but just as relevant are The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1964) and The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton (1967) which offer excellent opportunities for comparative studies and analysis of themes and content.

Evaluation of the text as representative of Australian culture

Have students reflect upon and discuss what elements they would expect to find in a text if it had the label of being ‘Australian literature’. Student responses could range from:

  • distinct setting and landscape representation (harsh, dry, barren)
  • working characters
  • use of language
  • culture and racial representations.

Discuss the responses and consider Jasper Jones against what the students have demonstrated in their thinking. Examine together the impact of the setting (place) of Corrigan – a small, fictional mining town in regional Western Australia. Other than the state, what aspects of this setting make it Australian in literary representation?

Consider the other aspect of setting (time), being 1965. How did the innocence and isolation of Western Australia – indeed all of Australia – respond to the backdrop of the Vietnam war and with young men being required to service this need through conscription?

Have students evaluate the text’s effectiveness as a piece representative of Australian literature from:

  • a migrant perspective
  • an Indigenous perspective
  • a metropolitan perspective
  • a rural perspective.

How authentic is the representation and voice of Australian cultures according to these perspectives? How effective would this text be as a piece of historical archive if it was promoted as reflective of the time?

The messaging with regards to the nature and extent of prejudice in Australian society is clear and extensive in Jasper Jones. Racism has a deep and long history in Australia.

  • What attitudes and values in respect to racism does a study of Jasper Jones exemplify for students?
  • What might students choose to do differently as a result of this textual reading, in terms of their own actions, and their own community involvement?
  • What personal application and challenge does this have for citizens consuming and producing Australian culture?
  • How might school communities and communities in general look different as a result of engaging with the issues highlighted in Jasper Jones?

Have students reflect and make journal entries on how they want to act and behave differently as a result of studying the novel.
(ACELT1641)   (ACELT1812)   (ACELT1774)   (ACELY1749)   (ACELY1752)   (ACELY1756)   (EN5-5C)

Identifying language and stylistic techniques


Discuss with students Silvey’s use of the oppressive heat, and the effects of this recognisably Australian sweltering summer which reflects and adds to the often suffocating moments in time which Charlie experiences.

  • How might this also be reflective of the southern American writers to which Silvey has alluded in his influences?
  • How does this style add to the Australian gothic genre of writing?

Note with students that the heat is combined with pathetic fallacy: action often happening under the cover of night and reflecting that darkness. Re-read some of these particular moments in the novel together as a class.

Representation of the nature of reality

Have students identify aspects of Silvey’s writing which reflect realism and authenticity with regards to voice and representation. Students can compare Jasper’s dialogue and language use with that of Jeffrey and Eliza. Consider how Silvey has been able to make these different voices so individually distinct and reflective of their unique personalities and characters. Have the students identify particular examples via quotes, and analyse them for meaning.


Identify the different examples of allusion to other events/situations/literary works that Silvey has used in Jasper Jones. These relate not only to literary intertextuality, but also to cultural allusions and symbols which assist in framing the narrative. When key individuals of influence are mentioned, they are often seen within the context of an internal monologue by Charlie. What impact does this positioning have on the responder?
(ACELT1639)   (ACELT1642)   (ACELT1644)   (EN5-3B)

Rich assessment task (responding)

Part 1

The front cover of Jasper Jones engages with one of numerous references claiming that the text is “… an Australian To Kill A Mockingbird.” Explore the significance of this declaration with students.

Should students not be familiar with this referenced text, helpful sources might include ‘5 reasons why To Kill A Mockingbird is important‘ and ‘How the moral lessons of To Kill A Mockingbird endure today‘. Students could also research some of the comparisons from the extensive information available on this topic online via a Google search: ‘Compare Jasper Jones with To Kill A Mockingbird’. Have students create a venn diagram or table to show their comparison findings.

Students will then be able to compose an extended response in which they present a researched and referenced opinion regarding the claim that Jasper Jones equates to an Australian To Kill a Mockingbird, and if so, how/why their opinion is so founded.

As a follow-up task, students could ask and respond to the questions:

  • What does Jasper Jones do to an Australian reader, that To Kill A Mockingbird can’t?
  • What makes this text particularly special and significant?

Part 2

Read with students about what a listicle is and how to write one. Discuss why they are useful and what purpose they serve. Explore together the listicle ‘Awesome Australian books every YA fan should read‘ and cross-reference some of these with the Australian coming-of-age titles referenced earlier. Students create their own listicle as a task, with the topic being ‘The significance of Jasper Jones in the wider world’.

This listicle could be character driven and focus on the main enlightening issues and actions of the novel. It would consider what the reader learns, why the text is important, and what it contributes to the Australian literary landscape.

This task could be done simply on a Microsoft/Google Document, or could be done online via a free website such as Blogger, Weebly, or WordPress.
(ACELA1570)   (ACELA1571)   (ACELT1639)   (ACELT1644)   (ACELT1812)   (ACELT1774)   (ACELY1756)   (ACELY1757)   (ACELY1776)   (EN5-1A)   (EN5-6C)

Synthesising core ideas

Addressing and justifying any revisions to the initial response

Organise students to revisit their initial responses to Jasper Jones which were collected and logged at, and identify as a class reflections that resonate and are meaningful now that students have read and analysed the text. Would students change any of these initial ideas or approaches to the reading of the text? If so, what was a turning point in the novel for their thinking?

Set up different stations around the classroom. At these stations, there are A3 sheets of paper with questions and discussion prompts on them. Students rotate through these stations for a short time under the teacher’s direction. The stations might be based on the following reflection questions, and students could also write down their thoughts on the sheet before moving on to the next station.

  • Jasper Jones was nothing like I thought it would be …
  • One moment that sticks out in my mind when I think of the novel is …
  • Just as Charlie grew in the novel, so did I …
  • Charlie’s point of view was helpful and relatable …
  • Knowing the context further shaped my understanding of the novel …
  • The characters were real and authentic …

(ACELA1570)   (ACELT1640)   (ACELT1641)   (ACELT1812)   (ACELY1749)   (ACELY1752)   (EN5-5C)

Reflecting on awareness of the text’s wider cultural value

Have students reflect on the nature of being a writer and storyteller. Discuss as a class how Jasper Jones has encouraged more reading, writing and storytelling in the lives of the students. This next excerpt is very much self-referential, as Silvey in Jasper Jones presents Jasper encouraging Charlie:

‘No doubt. Reckon you’d be great. Move to some big city with a typewriter. Meetin people, tellin their stories. Maybe you could write my story one day. Then we’ll make a film out of it, for certains. Imagine that…’ And I do imagine it. Jasper makes it sound so possible and plausible, that I might leave Corrigan to be a writer. To tell tall stories for a living. Real, important literature. When the mood strikes me, I sometimes like to imagine myself as a famous author in an austere, candelabra-lit ballroom, where I am bantering with beat poets and novelists like Harper Lee and Truman Capote.’ (p. 47)

Encourage students to reflect on the text’s cultural value, and consider if it should continue to be studied at school. What cultural value does it hold for Australian school students, and indeed members of society? Is Jasper Jones rightly considered young adult literature?

Jasper Jones is called an Australian ‘modern classic’ (Hunter and Bligh). Have students interrogate and explain the meaning of this oxymoron. What does this mean for the text and do students think this claim justified?

Consider the representation of Indigenous issues and experiences in the novel. Cross reference this with a reflection from First Nations writer Ellen van Neerven, who reflected on ABC Education:

The books that touched me most from school were Holes by Louis Sachar, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I would call all three classics and I learnt a lot from each of them, but what is most interesting is how To Kill a Mockingbird has been used as an essential text about racial injustice for Australian schools. Perhaps we could find more relevance in stories by our Indigenous writers.

Whilst Silvey does not identify as being Indigenous, it is interesting to note that the film version of Jasper Jones was directed by renowned Indigenous film maker, Rachel Perkins.

Sensitively discuss with students what Jasper Jones might contribute to a conversation on reconciliation and Indigenous issues.
(ACELA1570)   (ACELT1640)   (ACELT1641)   (ACELT1812)   (ACELY1749)   (ACELY1752)   (EN5-5C)

Developing a coherent, conclusive statement of understanding regarding the text and its themes

Once students have had the opportunity to review the different learning activities completed within this unit, they should write a one-paragraph reflection on what studying Jasper Jones has meant to them. This reflection exercise could be turned into a timed writing activity, followed up with peer feedback.

Additionally, using the free online tool Kahoot, students can synthesise their understanding of the novel and its ideas by creating an online quiz for the rest of the class. So as not to double up on content, different students could focus on different textual concepts within the novel (theme, character, setting, point of view, genre).

Now the unit is drawing to a close, discuss with students the significance of the title, exploring the notion that Eliza Wishart and Charlie Bucktin are just as important to the plot and messaging of the novel as Jasper Jones. Have students develop a coherent, conclusive statement of understanding as to why the novel is named Jasper Jones. Students are to compose their statements, using high modality language, and then share these with the class, either orally or in groups.

Provide students with the following writing prompt – Courageous Charlie: Discuss how Charlie discovers the true meaning of courage in Jasper Jones.

This is expanded below, with a quote qualifying the statement: ‘Charlie defeats the local racists, faces the breakup of his parents and falls head over heels in love as he discovers what it means to be truly courageous’ (Lynne Erlandson, Cedar Mill Library). Students are to complete a piece of writing which draws on their knowledge and understanding of the entirety of Jasper Jones to answer the question.
(ACELT1774)   (ACELT1644)   (ACELY1756)   (EN5-6C)

Reflecting on one’s own processes of responding to and creating texts

‘If permitted to paint a world in which they believe, most students will take the opportunity to write’ (Craig Silvey, 2018). Frame the following activities as opportunities for reflection and consolidation of the unit and the text.

  • As this is a text that relates to coming-of-age, students can reflect to what extent they feel that they, too, have come of age with this text. They can reflect on their own journey as readers, how they have grown and moved from innocence to the ‘known’ and ‘aware’ as a result of reading and studying Jasper Jones. Like Charlie, what do they see differently as a result of engaging with this text? How has this further shaped their thinking and reflection? In their reflection, students can consider Charlie’s relationships with his parents and how these relationship dynamics contribute to the bildungsroman impact. Students might like to consider their own parental/caregiver relationships in this way, too.
  • Writing comical characters: students are to consider the impact of Jeffrey Lu as a character in Jasper Jones. Not only does he begrudgingly win over the respect of Corrigan with his cricket skills, but his lighthearted friendship with Charlie intentionally breaks up pockets of tension in the novel. Out of all the sports, why is it cricket that Silvey has chosen as the sport in which Jeffrey can triumph? Students could identify any other aspects of the text in which they smiled/laughed in relation to character behaviour. Have them reflect upon and share these moments in the text. Perhaps students could compose short texts in which humour/comic relief is the aim. These should be character-based but could also be in any setting. Following this time of composition, have students reflect on how easy or challenging they found the task, and what was the desired impact for the readers of their pieces? Students might like to share some of their writing with the class, with the class undertaking a ‘try not to laugh’ challenge.

(ACELT1641)   (ACELT1812)   (ACELY1749)  (ACELY1752)   (ACELY1756)   (EN5-3B)

Rich assessment task (responding and creating)

Discuss with students the nature of podcasts as a way of capturing intimate and thoughtful conversations with a much wider audience in mind. Reflect on the growing popularity of podcasts on a whole variety of topics in Australia and the world over the last decade. Explore The Garret Podcast, with writers on writing (as well as the Reading Australia features and resources).

Arrange for students to listen to some of these podcasts which feature the film, stage and text versions of Jasper Jones. They could do this individually or in small groups, noting the nature and style of the conversations, as well as the structure and content:

Students should seek to record a podcast exploring the central concepts in Jasper Jones. The style and format of the recording can be decided by the student. Some suggested contexts might include:

  • Silvey talking at a Writers’ Festival
  • Allen & Unwin, the publishers, discussing coming-of-age features in the text
  • Silvey and Perkins on adapting the novel for the film
  • characters discussing their personal journeys in the novel
  • teachers discussing key textual moments in the novel with students
  • a student discussing with another student the impact the text has had on them.

(ACELA1565)   (ACELA1570)   (ACELA1571)   (ACELT1640)   (ACELT1641)   (ACELT1812)   (ACELT1814)   (ACELY1751)  (ACELY1752)   (ACELY1757)   (ACELY1756)   (ACELY1776)   (EN5-3B)   (EN5-7D)