Review Blog

Sep 25 2014

Australian Geographic history (series) by various authors

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They came to Australia: Explorers before European settlement by Joel Weston. ISBN 9781742455129.
A failure to understand: Early colonisation and the Indigenous peoples by Margaret McPhee. ISBN 9781742455136.
Life in colonial Australia: From First Fleet to federation by Kerry Davies. ISBN 9781742455143.
Visions of a nation: The campaign for federation by Scott Brodie. ISBN 9781742455150.
(Age: Yrs 3-6) These are the first four titles in a new series from Australian Geographic that are especially designed to introduce the younger reader to Australia's history. Specifically written to accompany specific outcomes of the History strand of the Australian Curriculum, they provide a wealth of information in written and pictorial form that is at a level of readability for the age group. With clear headings, text in manageable chunks and a range of photos, maps and other illustrations they open the door to understanding our past with both facts and explanations. For example in A failure to understand the reader learns of the bewilderment of the European settlers in this 'upside-down land'; the impact of their struggle to survive on the Indigenous people and why conflict was inevitable, all written in a readable way that tells the story rather than unrelated paragraphs of bare facts.
When I recently shared a pile of new books with a Year 3/4 class, these four books were immediately pounced on by four boys not known for choosing to read, let alone write about what they had read. Yet for the best part of two hours they sat in a group reading and discussing and eventually writing a review of the one they had chosen. Initially attracted by their factual nature and then the illustrations, they soon became absorbed in the accompanying text and there were a number of times I heard, 'Hey, did you know...?' They were disappointed when the bell brought the session to an end!
There are another eight titles in the series: The First Fleet: How why and how it happened; Major events in colonial history: 1788 to 1900; Gold rushes: The new prosperity; Immigration since 1901: How and why they came; Strangers in the land: The coming of the Europeans; Governors squatters and battlers: People who shaped European settlement; Across the seas: Where our immigrants came from; They shaped Australia: Contributing to Australia which all together would form a very solid core of resources to support your school's history program.
Barbara Braxton

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