This is an excerpt from my January 2012 ACTivATE Journal article. I plan to add more blogs with reviews and teaching notes about specific texts as I develop this site. For another great discussion about 100 great ‘Black books’ by Aboriginal authors see http://anitaheissblog.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/anitas-bbc-black-book-choice-reading.html
In terms of locating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature, there are many resources you can use. Anita Heiss (a Wiradjuri woman from central NSW) has co-edited several important anthologies of Aboriginal literature, including
Heiss, A & Minter P (eds.) 2008 Anthology of Australian Aboriginal Literature, McGill-Queen’s University Press
(see also Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature).
In addition, there are several large publishers of Indigenous works:
Magabala books: www.magabala.com
Fremantle Press www.fremantlepress.com
IAD Press www.iadpress.com
Indij Readers www.indijreaders.com.au
Black Ink Press www.blackinkpress.com.au
Aboriginal Studies Press www.aiatsis.gov.au/asp/welcome.html
Another publisher, Laguna Bay Publishing, has teamed up with Oxford University Press to publish the very popular Yarning Strong series. It includes 12 novels and 4 graphic novels, 4 poetry/play/art anthologies as well as teaching notes/CD-Rom. All texts are by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writers who explore contemporary Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander identity and experiences. The series is suitable for upper primary/lower secondary students. Go to the website www.lagunabaypublishing.com for more information.
The Children’s Book Council 2012 awards included some new Indigenous-themed titles:
- Bronwyn Bancroft: Why I love Australia (Little Hare Books)
- One Arm Point Remote Community School: Our World: Bardi Jaawi: Life at Ardiyooloon (Magabala Books)
Another important publisher of Indigenous writing is University of Queensland Press. Many of their writers have previously won David Unaipon Literary Awards (Awarded annually to an unpublished Indigenous author by the Premier) and they feature a section on ‘Black Australian Writing’. Some of their titles for middle and senior secondary students are listed below, and you can find more on their website (http://www.uqp.uq.edu.au/skins/uqp/_uploads/2011childrenandYA.pdf)
|Herb Wharton||Yumba Days 978 0 7022 3113 1 |$18.95|
|Doris Pilkington Garimarra||Home to Mother: A Younger Reader’s edition of Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence
978 0 7022 3546 7 | $16.95
|Ruby Langford Ginibi
|Don’t Take Your Love to Town
978 0 7022 3595 5 | $24.95
All My Mob
978 0 7022 3596 2 | $24.95
My Bundjalung People
978 0 7022 2637 3 |$23.95
|Yvette Holt||Anonymous Premonition «
978 0 7022 3571 9 | $24.95
|Vivienne Cleven||Bitin’ Back
978 0 7022 3249 7 | $19.95
Her Sister’s Eye
978 0 7022 3283 1 | $23.95
|Doris Pilkington Garimara||Caprice: a Stockman’s Daughter
978 0 7022 3356 2 | $19.95
Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence
978 0 7022 3355 5 | $19.95
Under the Wintamarra Tree
978 0 7022 3308 1 | $24.00
|Melissa Lukashenko||Killing Darcy «
978 0 7022 3041 7 | $18.95
978 0 7022 3080 6 | $23.95
|Larissa Behrendt||Home «
978 0 7022 3407 1 | $24.95
|Archie Weller||The Window Seat
978 0 7022 3715 7 | $24.95
|Elizabeth Hodgson||Skin Painting «
978 0 7022 3677 8 | $24.95
|Samuel Wagan Watson||Smoke Encrypted Whispers
978 0 7022 3471 2 | $22.95
|Robert Lowe||The Mish
978 0 7022 3327 2 | $23.95
978 0 7022 3610 5 | $14.95
NON FICTION, SENIOR SECONDARY
|Alexis Wright||Plains of Promise
978 0 7022 2917 6 | $23.95
|Fiona Doyle||Whispers of This Wik Woman
978 0 7022 3461 3 | $24.95
|Jackie Huggins||Sister Girl
978 0 7022 2840 7 | $24.95
|Ruth Hegarty||Bittersweet Journey
978 0 7022 3414 9 | $26.95
|Sue Taffe||Black and White Together: FCAATSI (The Federal Council
for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders 1958–1972)
978 0 7022 3511 5 | $24.95
|Paul Memmott||Gunyah, Goondie & Wurley
978 0 7022 3245 9 | $90.00
|Rod Moss||The Hard Light of Day: An Artist’s Story of Friendship in Arrernte Country
978 0 7022 3774 4 | $39.95
In the ACT Association for the Teaching of English’s February professional development, 2011, I co-presented a session with Marie-Ann Holdich about the books we enjoy teaching. Marie-Ann ran a very successful Aboriginal literature unit at The Canberra College for some time, and I was lucky enough to be a student in this course in the late 1990s. A copy of our PowerPoint is available on the ACTATE website and some of the books we mentioned were:
- Terri Janke, Butterfly Song (older readers)
- Tara June Winch, Swallow the Air (older readers)
- Boori Monty Pryor, Maybe Tomorrow (could be adapted for high school – accessible to wide range of readers)
- Sally Morgan, My Place (high school – and there is also a picture book version)
See Term 1, 2011 Workshop at http://www.actate.org.au/teaching-resources/
BLACKWORDS: ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER WRITERS AND STORYTELLERS
AustLit has a section on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature, cataloguing lists of authors and titles from different states. Any member of the National Library of Australia (and many universities and educational institutions) can subscribe to this resource: http://www.austlit.edu.au/specialistDatasets/BlackWords. It also includes a timeline of important events in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, as these are often the subject of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature.
From this resource I have compiled a list of Aboriginal Authors and their titles. I’ll leave it to you to look up titles of interest and find out more about their content, literary merits, and applicability to your teaching.
|Author & Heritage||Title||Publishing details|
|Ali Cobby Eckermann (ed.) Anangu, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara of north west of South Australia.||See my world: poetry and short stories by young Aboriginal writers.||Northern Territory Writers’ Centre, 2010
|Karl Jananbi Dank (ed.)
|This Country Anytime Anywhere: An Anthology of New Indigenous Writing from the Northern Territory.
|IAD Press & Northern Territory Writers’ Centre, 2010
|Colleen Johnson, Leni Shilton, Rita Fisher and Melissa McAllister (eds.)||My Hands, Your Pen, A Voice: a collection of writing by Indigenous Creative Writing Students 2009.
|Batchelor Press, 2009
Bailgu and Nyamal people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
|The Butterfly Birthday
|Westerly vol.54 no.2 November 2009 periodical issue (pp.116-125)
|Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative project with Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors
|Urgent: what would you do if this happened to you?
|Random House Australia, 2003
|The Song Tip of the Dreaming Snake||In The Girl Who Married a Fly and other Stories
|Includes Aboriginal authors||Mitch? Short Stories for Short Attention Spans||Self-published by Anthony Mitchell, 2000
|Jack Cook Ngal, Anmatyerre elder, Yuelamu NW of Alice Springs||Anengkerr Angkety Dreaming Stories
|Batchelor Press, 2007
|Brenton E. McKenna, Broome, WA||Ubby’s Underdogs: the Legend of the Phoenix Dragon
|Magabala Books, 2011
|Esther Fischer of the Gugu Yalanji Burungu people at Mossman||Walkabout with our mates||Black Ink Press, 2010
|Richard Frankland, coastal South-West Victoria
|Digger J. Jones||Scholastic Press, 2007
Luritja woman from Titjikala, Alice Springs
|Us Mob Walawurru
|Magabala Books, 2006
Yuin woman, South Coast NSW
Paper bag dreams
|Hodder Headline Australia, 2000 & 2004
Kungganji and Birrigubba people of North Queensland.
|My Girragundji – Book 1
The Binna Binna Man – Book 2
Nunjul the Sun – Book 3 Shake a leg – children’s book
|Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin, 2010
|Jared Thomas, South Australia||Sweet Guy||IAD Press, 2005
|Jukurrpa Books, 2002
University of QLD Press, 1998
|Derek Pugh and the Sunshine Girls
(A teacher from the Northern Territory who co-wrote Tammy Damulkurra with The Sunshine Girls – ten students from his school)
|Tammy Damulkurra||Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995
|James G. Porter, Port Pirie in South Australia||The Talking Mountains
The edge of the rainforest Long White Cloud
The swiftest Isle
|Hodder and Stoughton, 1993
University of QLD Press, 1991
University of QLD Press, 1989
Cassell Australia, 1980
Hodder and Stoughton, 1977
|Island in the Mist
|In Taste of Cockroach and other Stories.
|Jason De Santis
Milikapiti, Northern Territory, belonging to the Tiwi people
|Wulamanayuwi and the seven Pamanui (based on Snow White and the seven dwarves)||www.cyberpaddock.com.au/
|Kymarra (Kamarra) Bell-Wykes
South East Queensland belonging to the Jagera and Dalingbara people.
|Ilbijerri Theatre Company http://ilbijerri.com.au/whats-on/body-armour/
Eora people in New South Wales
|Urgent||http://2008.nextwave.org.au/ (Sighted 27/10/2008).|
Finally, while attending a lecture at Deakin University by Clare Bradford (as part of the Australian Government Summer School for Teachers in 2008), I was given information about children’s books as sites for political discussions of race relations and Aboriginal history, and the relevance of using them in secondary classrooms. Of course, Shaun Tan’s beautiful book The Rabbits would fit well here, but here is a list of books recommended by Clare:
- Berolah, Lorraine, Lilyjane Collins and Noel Crustaufo 1996, Betty and Bala and the Proper Big Pumpkin, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld.
- Burton, Daphne Punytjina, and Carolyn Windy 2000, Kupi-Kupi and the Girl, Magabala Books, Broome, W.A.
- Edwards, Yvonne, and Brenda Day 1997, Going for Kalta: Hunting for Sleepy Lizards at Yalata. IAD, Alice Springs.
- Greene, Gracie, Joe Tramacchi and Lucile Gill 1992, Tjarany Roughtail, Magabala Books, Broome.
- Malbunka, Mary 2003, When I was Little, Like You, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest NSW.
- Papunya School Book of Country and History 2001, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.
- Randall, Bob, and Kunyi June-Anne McInerney 2003, Tracker Tjugingji. IAD Press, Alice Springs.
- Russell, Elaine 2004, The Shack that Dad Built, Little Hare Books, Surry Hills, NSW.
- Utemorrah, Daisy, and Pat Torres 1990, Do Not Go Around the Edges. Magabala Books, Broome, W.A.
- Russell, Elaine 2001, A is for Aunty, Sydney, ABC Books.
- Williams, Edna Tantjingu, Eileen Wani Wingfield, and Kunyi June-Anne McInerney 2000, Down the Hole, Up the Tree, Across the Sandhills…Running from the State and Daisy Bates. IAD, Alice Springs.
Blackwords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers and Storytellers, AustLit (www.austlit.edu.au), 2002- [Retrieved 21/08/2011].
Bradford, Clare 2008, Children’s and Young Adult Literature Lecture Notes, Australian Government Summer School for Teachers, Deakin University, Geelong, January
Note that AUSTLIT is now hosting a new project started in 2011 called The Asian-Australian Children’s Literature and Publishing (AACLAP) to provide primary and secondary sources for developing literature-focused educational programs in line with the National Curriculum (http://www.austlit.edu.au/specialistDatasets/ChildLit/AsianAustChildLit)
Thanks to Clare Bradford and AustLit for granting permission to reproduce their work in this article. I would also like to express my appreciation to Jeanine Leane for her advice and discussion about this article.