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Teaching about Australian history and society

I am working to understand more about Australian history in order to teach it to our children one day. Whether we home school or not, we are responsible for teaching our children about their heritage as Australians. One interesting way to teach Australian history would be through biographies and autobiographies. Personal stories are a wonderful way to learn! I will add books and other resources to this list as I discover those that we would like to use, and that I can recommend to others.

Primary school

Ziba Came on a Boat by Liz Lofthouse is an engaging and sympathetic picture book about refugees who come illegally on boats. It is beautifully illustrated. It is fictional but based on the author's relationships with refugees.

The Australian Christian History Research Institute looks like a valuable resource. 

The middle grades (years 5 - 8)

S'pose I die: The Evelyn Maunsell Story by Hector Holthouse (Harper Collins Publishers, 2000, 227 pages). Evelyn moved from England to a remote cattle station with her Australian husband. I loved reading this and it would attract the interest of children.

High school

A Fortunate Life by A. B. Facey (Penguin Books Australia, 1984, 326 pages). This autobiography traces Bert Facey's life from an impoverished childhood through to a productive adulthood and then into old age. Bert never attended school but was able to learn to read and write. This is an excellent book for young adults as it covers issues such as child employment, and historical events like the Gallipoli campaign. There are many exciting incidents including one in which Bert nearly dies while cleaning a well. Mr. Facey is positive about his marriage and family life, and his wife was clearly a wonderful helper to him. He becomes an atheist after the war. This is only detailed in one paragraph of the book, and could be a useful opportunity to consider the argument that suffering disproves God's existence. An abridged version of  A Fortunate Life is available that could be suitable for the middle grades.


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