Reading Australia celebrates three years of bringing Aussie stories back to the classroom

Cultural Fund

Reading Australia is celebrating its third birthday with more than 270 books, 80 essays and almost 120 teaching resources now available to teachers Australia-­wide, as part of its ongoing commitment
to improve the teaching of Australian literature in schools.

Reading Australia was created by the not-­for-­profit Copyright Agency in response to growing concerns that knowledge of, and appreciation for, Australian stories was in decline. As an online educational resource, Reading Australia is dedicated to making it easier for teachers to spread the
love of Australian texts. It provides a range of educational resources that assist teachers to navigate Australian texts within the framework of the new Australian Curriculum.

A recent survey by the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment revealed that more than 40,000 Australian 15-year-­olds lack the reading skills required to adequately participate in the workforce and to contribute as productive future citizens.

The Copyright Agency’s CEO Adam Suckling believes that quality teaching resources and greater access to Australian literature can support an improvement in children’s reading skills. “Everyone in Australia should be leaving our school system with a healthy appreciation of our unique
Australian stories,” Mr Suckling said.

“In recent years, Australian books, both classic and modern, have been taught less in schools with many books having fallen out of print, but more concerning has been the lack of access to high quality teaching resources.

“To address this, Reading Australia has partnered with the Australian Society of Authors and major English and literacy educator associations to create almost 120 teaching resources that link to the national curriculum, with the specific goal of helping teachers bring Australian stories back into the

Reading Australia is continually looking at new and innovative ways to connect to the teaching community. A new Teachers’ Corner section on the website that aims to create a community for teachers, resources for a series of new Indigenous titles are currently in development, and new books
are constantly being added with support tools, the latest being Mahtab’s Story by Libby Glesson. Reading Australia’s book list of 270 has been carefully selected to ensure that it is relevant and reflective of Australia’s rich culture of storytelling. The book list features some of Australia’s finest
writers and illustrators.

Well-­‐loved Australian illustrator Ann James, who has brought to life books such as The Midnight Gang, The Butterfly and Lucy Goosey, has designed a series of special colouring sheets as part of Reading Australia’s birthday celebrations. Exclusive colouring sheets will be released each week during
November, with the chance to win an Ann James print for the classroom.

Adam Suckling believes that over the past three years, Reading Australia has made a meaningful impact on the teaching of literature in Australian schools, with more than 7500 teachers being kept abreast of new additions to the site, 367,000 resource views and 208,000 essay views.

Resources are available for teachers from pre-­school to university level, and include content about David Unaipon’s Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines, classics like Ruth Park’s Playing Beatie Bow, and award-­‐winning non-­‐fiction such as Anna Funder’s Stasiland. Reading Australia also hosts essays from writers such as Germaine Greer, Malcolm Knox and Geordie Williamson that offer deeper perspectives on texts for young adults.

“Teachers have told us they really love the resources on Reading Australia. It began as a passion project of former Chair of Copyright Agency, Brian Johns who we sadly lost after a brief illness in January this year. Brian was passionate about ensuring Australian students read and learnt from Australian stories, and it was through his tireless effort that this landmark project was established.

Today, Reading Australia is used by thousands of teachers to enrich the lives of students around the country,” adds Mr Suckling. Children’s Laureate and Reading Australia ambassador Leigh Hobbs believes Reading Australia has helped to change children’s lives. “Reading and exploring history and art is something I have been able to do because of my love of books. I’m incredibly supportive of the work Reading Australia does because literacy truly does transform lives,” Mr Hobbs said.

Reading Australia’ Top 5 Most Popular Books & Essays (as indicated by teachers accessing the resources):

1. Little Brother: Allan Baillie (Resource author: Lyndall Harrison)
2. Are We There Yet: Alison Lester (Resource author: Nicole Hughes)
3. My Place: Nadia Wheatley/Donna Rawlins (Resource author: Alexander Wharton)
4. My Girragundji: Meme McDonald and Boori Pryor (Resource author: Fran Grant)
5. Five Times Dizzy: Nadia Wheatley (Resource author: Amanda Worlley)

1. Away: Michael Gow (Resource author: Michael Murray)
2. Follow the RPF Doris Pilkington (Resource author: Tony Britten)
3. No Sugar: Jack Davis (Resource author: Claire Jones)
4. Blackrock: Nick Enright (Resource author: Adam Kealley)
5. The Arrival: Shaun Tan (Resource author: Josie McKinnon and Rosie Kerin)

1. Looking for Alibrandi: Melina Marchetta (Resource author: Alice Pung)
2. Swallow the Air: Tara June Winch (Resource author: Melissa Lucashenko)
3. Blackrock: (Resource author: David Berthold)
4. The Arrival: (Resource author: Libby Gleeson)
5. Stasiland: Anna Funder (Resource author: Malcolm Knox)

To receive access to incredible resources, essays, monthly updates, book news and competitions, visit Reading Australia’s website and register for free!