Australians All


Author: Nadia Wheatley

Illustrator: Ken Searle

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Comments: Australians All should be in all Australian upper primary classrooms. (See what I did there?) Subtitled A History of Growing Up from the Ice Age to the Apology it explores historical representations of childhood in Australia. At almost 300 pages, this is a substantial text. First released in 2013 in hard cover, the new paperback version is lighter, cheaper, and also features further illustrations by Ken Searle. Although written chronologically, Wheatley herself concedes that the book does not need to be read from beginning to end. In her introduction (p9) she writes, “If I were given this book, I would probably first go through and look at the pictures. then, when I found a story that sounded interesting, I would read that. And if I wanted more background or context for the story, I would read the pages before it and after it.” I suspect teachers, and students, will use the text in the same way.

The text is essentially a collection of snippets. It is comprised of single and double page stories, sometimes told from different perspectives, incorporating historical images, maps, drawings, photographs, works of art, newspaper excerpts and timelines. The child centric narratives make it is easy for students to engage with the text and with the historical time period. Importantly, in doing so Wheatley also gives voice to the often unheard voices of Australia’s children over the years.

I strongly suggest teachers download the 30 page Teacher’s Notes document written by Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright. The notes include some excellent discussion points and classroom activities following on from many of the stories in the text. You will also find links to other KLAs, an extensive list of related resources (including film and digital texts), and tips for accessing the text itself. I keep a copy of the Teacher’s Notes inside the dust jacket!

There are countless opportunities to use this book in the context of teaching History and Geography as well as English, especially in light of the current Australian Curriculum requirements. In my opinion, this book is an essential for school libraries and a text every upper primary teacher should have access to.

Teacher Tip: Highly recommended for Stage 3 classrooms, and as a Teacher Resource.

*I received a review copy of Australians All courtesy of Allen & Unwin. No payment was received for review and all comments are based on my own professional opinion.

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