You know how when you go to a conference you pick up all sorts of pamphlets and brochures advertising this and that? Well, at the Writing the Australian landscape conference I attended back in August, just before I went overseas, I picked up an interesting leaflet from Australia’s Copyright Agency. The leaflet is titled: Reading Australia: Sharing great Australian stories. I decided then that it should be a Monday Musings topic so, here I am, nearly three months later telling you about it.
Reading Australia’s aim is “to promote the study of Australian works in the classroom”. It has kicked off with “the First 200” works selected by the Australian Society of Authors. The selection includes
stories from Indigenous Australians, from the colonial past and rural epics through to the cosmopolitan melting pot of the cities … classes and new favourites
The list, which is available on the Copyright Agency’s website, covers fiction and non-fiction, drama and poetry, and includes selections for primary and secondary schools. From these they have selected a subset of 20 – split 50-50 for secondary and primary schools – and created teacher resources which they say will be trialled “later in the year” (which must presumably be now).
The selection for secondary students, which is the area that most interests me, is nicely diverse, and is not dumbed-down. It includes the major forms (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, short stories), classics and contemporary titles, and works representing indigenous and multicultural Australia. The ten are:
- Anna Funder‘s Stasiland (non-fiction) (my review)
- Tara June Winch‘s Swallow the air (novel)
- Miles Franklin‘s My brilliant career (novel)
- Tim Winton‘s Cloudstreet (novel)
- Melina Marchetta‘s Looking for Alibrandi (young adult novel)
- Nam Le‘s The boat (short stories)
- Nick Enright‘s Black rock (drama)
- Gwen Harwood‘s Collected works (poetry)
- Chloe Hooper‘s The tall man (non-fiction) (my review)
- Shaun Tan‘s The arrival (graphic novel)
The project is an initiative of the Cultural Fund of the Australian Copyright Agency, with the Australian Society of Authors and the Association for the Study of Australian Literature as partners.
I was disappointed by the dearth of Australian literature taught to my children at school and so am delighted to see this initiative. I don’t know, however, how well it is being promoted, how easy it will be for teachers to incorporate into their existing curricula, whether schools can resource providing the books, but I do hope it gains traction.