Celebrating Indigenous Literacy Day with stories of Heroes, Rebels and Innovators

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

When digital storytelling platform Story Box Library ran its online professional development (PD) day this time last year, having more than 1000 educators around Australia register to attend made it the most popular PD event they’d held since the brand launched in 2013.

They were there to listen to Jasmine Seymour, a Darug woman and descendant of Maria Lock, who was the daughter of Yarramundi, the Boorooberongal elder who had met Governor Phillip on the banks of the Hawkesbury River in 1791. And they were keen to learn more about integrating the stories of First Nations people into their classrooms.

This year, a range of classroom ideas and teacher resources are available on the subscription-based site, to help educators navigate the most engaging, meaningful ways to share First Nations stories – for today’s Indigenous Literacy Day celebrations, and beyond.

“There is certainly an appetite that educators have to learn how to respectfully share the beliefs, cultures and experiences of First Nations people in the classroom,” says Story Box Library founder Nicole Brownlee. “The feeling of trepidation amongst non-Indigenous educators, who feel unqualified to do so, is starting to shift as more resources become available.”

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“Each year we offer a free story for non-subscribers to watch and get a taste of what we offer as part of our collection. This year, the story we have chosen is Heroes, Rebels and Innovators: Inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People from history by Karen Wyld – and read aloud by Tamala Shelton,” says Ms Brownlee. “This is an inspiring book that tells compelling stories from Australian history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander icons.”

Downloadable Classroom Ideas are included alongside the story to help upper-primary students explore the themes, language features and literary elements further within this book,” says Story Box Library’s Education Resource Developer Nina Perkinson.

“As a popular resource in schools, we have an obligation to lead change and work towards reconciliation through story,” Ms Perkinson says. “These stories and storytellers offer hope for reconciliation in the future as kids from a young age can begin to understand the significance of the diverse First Nations cultures, languages, beliefs and histories.”

Resources for educators

“The growing collection of First Nations stories available can be found via the ‘First Nations’ option in the website’s ‘Series’ search filter, with selected titles able to be saved as a playlist that can be saved to share with staff, students and families,” Ms Perkinson told EducationDaily.

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“We have a range of activities for early years and younger learners that springboard from stories that explore First Nations culture,” she says. “These can be found in our Activity Time area of the Resource section, via the ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Culture’ category filter. Examples include, creating a Sorry Day bracelet, making Darrambyang leaf (gumleaf) rubbings, and inviting elders to share stories and knowledge.”

A wide range of classroom ideas for primary-aged students is also available and includes:

Free access for Indigenous Literacy Day

By enabling educators and families to access Heroes, Rebels and Innovators free for the month around ILD celebrations, Story Box Library hopes more people take the time to explore First Nations storytelling, to help a new generation of young readers explore a more thorough understanding and appreciation of our country’s unique history.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live