Activities for this continent

Early Elementary Books

Postcards from Australia - (ISBN: 978-0817242312)
by Helen Arnold
Fictional postcards sent by children traveling around Australia detail the land, animals, city, geography, and other distinctive aspects of life in the “down-under.” This unique approach to a travel book appeals to children because of its short text selections, pictures, and focus on one or two items on each card. Take a digital picture or draw a postcard illustration of your own about your town and talk with your children about what they would write on it.

Loku and the Shark Attack - (ISBN: 0702235490)
by Deborah Carlyon
A young boy faces a series of trials to prove his worth to his twin brother. Learn about the culture of rural Australia as you read his adventures with sharks, totem animals, bush fires, and a kidnapping.

Jump into Science: Coral Reefs - (ISBN: 978-0792269533)
by Sylvia Earle
Learn about coral reefs, such as those we find off the Australian coast. Learn the animals and plants that live in the this habitat. Can you imagine yourself swimming in and out of the coral reef? What might it feel like?

Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia - (ISBN: 978-0670880676 )
by Alison Lester
Follow 8-year-old Grace as she travels with her brother, sister, and parents in a camper around the perimeter of Australia and into the interior to visit Alice Springs and Uluru. If you’re not familiar with Australian sites, you can check out the map in front of the book to learn place names and locations. The point of view of a young child guarantees the book will keep the interest of your children, and the family members’ reactions make this an appealing family reading choice—not just a travel book. Imagine you were having a visitor from Australia. Where would you take a visitor in your local area?

Down the Back of the Chair - (ISBN: 978-0618693955)
by Margaret Mahy
Delightful chaos ensues when everyone in the family is searching for dad’s keys. In this rhyming book by New Zealand writer Margaret Mahy, the family’s fortunes improve after having no car keys to go to work. Children will enjoy hearing about the unexpected things the family finds under chair cushions, etc. and will join in to repeat the choral refrain. Does the family find an unexpected treasure? Talk about what you’ve found while walking down the street, or better yet, while cleaning up your room.

The Rabbits - (ISBN: 978-0968876886)
by John Marsden
This allegorical tale, told from the point of view of a group of newly arrived rabbits, follows the rabbits as they sweep across Australia, creating overcrowding, conflicts, and eco-destruction. Talk with your children about problems of importing one’s culture to another land without regard for the native life. The haunting illustrations make the book a must-read; its message is applicable to any culture. Talk about how the natives feel as the rabbits move in. Be sure to compare these feelings to situations your child knows well.

Lizzie Nonsense - (ISBN: 978-0618574933)
by Jan Ormerod
When her father goes off to sell sandalwood, Lizzie has to use her imagination to fill the days on the Australian bush. She sees knights in armor, a deep blue sea, and a gourmet dinner instead of the kangaroos, dry land, dingoes, and the simple turnips she has to eat. Her mother makes fun of her “nonsense,” but joins in her fantasy when they dress up for church on Sunday and walk up and down on the dry road to the church that is not there. Talk with your children about some of your favorite fantasy play from childhood.

My Place - (ISBN: 978-0916291549)
by Nadia Wheatley
Readers learn the history of one family residence in Australia. Enjoy hearing about how the lives of children have changed as the pages turn backwards into history as far as the 1700s. Talk about your present home; what do you know of other children who have lived and grown up in the same building or on the same street? If you don’t know much about former residents, make up a story that will explain certain marks on the walls, or scratches in the staircase. Use little items that you might have found when you moved to spark your creative imagining.

More books to consider:

Hunwick's Egg - (ISBN: 978-0152163181 )
by Mem Fox

Big Rain Coming - (ISBN: 978-0618083442)
by Katrina Germein

Explore Australia and Oceania - (ISBN: 978-0778730873)
by Bobbie Kalman

A Home among the Gum Trees: The Story of Australian Houses - (ISBN: 978-1864480955)
by John Nicholson

Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Easter Island: Giant Stone Statues Tell of a Rich and Tragic Past - (ISBN: 978-0618486052)
by Caroline Arnold
Learn about the mysterious great stone carvings on the remote location of Easter Island. From the question of how primitive people managed to create such awe-inspiring monoliths to a discussion of how many people view them today, this book explores not only the carvings but also other details of architectural interest on the island. Mysterious writing on carved tablets, wood carvings, and petroglyphs also fascinate visitors to this unique island. Many photographs of the famous statues, which range from 19 – 65 feet tall, make the history and artistic achievements of this island more real. Try creating your own unique monolith out of modeling clay or paper mache; what do the faces mean to you?

Kalpana’s Dream - (ISBN: 1-932425-22-5)
by Judith Clarke
For a young woman who is half Australian, half Indian, answering her teacher’s essay question, “Who Am I?” is even more complicated than it is for most kids. As she juggles a visit from her Indian grandmother who doesn’t know English and a skate boarder whom she has a crush on, Kalpana uses her imagination to find out who she really is. This half fantasy, half coming-of-age novel portrays a young girl’s wishes and relationships with exquisite care. Talk about any times you might have had difficulty with a relative or older friend who can’t speak English. Talk about times you or your child may have felt confused about where you fit in.

Bungee Down Under - (ISBN: 978-1931807265)
by Sally Ford
This seafarer’s tale of the dog Bungee as he voyages on the small Gypsy Rover contains diary excerpts (from a dog!), maps, ship charts, and notes on his stops across the ocean to Tahiti. Children will learn nautical terminology as as they thrill to the whims of ever changing weather along the voyage with this adventurous pooch.

Come to My Place, Meet My Island Family: Stories from the Pacific - (ISBN: 978-0377001213)
by Esiteri Kamikamica
Short stories and intriguing information about the Pacific Islands, including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Western Samoa, make this a fascinating book. If you won a free trip to this area, which place would you go to first?

Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu - (ISBN: 978-1741144710)
by Diane Lucas
Enjoy taking a literary “walkabout” to experience the flora and fauna of the countryside (bush) in Northern Australia. Count the different number of seasons the Aborigine experience as you go through the book.

Trouble in Tahiti - (ISBN: 978-0842336321)
by Pamela Walls
If you enjoy mysteries in a tropical setting, you will enjoy this title from the South Seas Adventures series. How can Abby protect the Tahitian queen from shark attacks, a kidnapping plot, and spies lurking everywhere? Give in to the lure of the South Seas: the weather, the beautiful trees, the native huts sitting near black sand beaches, and you’ll be on your way to imagining the setting for this breathless read.

More books to consider:

The Whale Rider - (ISBN: 978-0435131081 )
by Witi Ihimaera

Uluru: Australia's Aboriginal Heart - (ISBN: 978-0618181810)
by Caroline Arnold

The Mystery on the Great Barrier Reef - (ISBN: 978-0635062109)
by Carole Marsh

Rediscovering Easter Island - (ISBN: 978-0822548904)
by Kathy Pelta

Middle School to Young Adult Books

Does My Head Look Big in This? - (ISBN: 978-0439919470 )
by Randa Abdel-Fattah
An Australian teen and a devout Muslim, Amal, chooses to wear the Arabic women’s head scarf, the hijab, in her diverse school community. Enjoy her sometimes comical journey, suffering adolescent crushes, dealing with her traditional parents, and getting rejected when attempting to get a part-time job. You may not notice how much you are learning about the Muslim faith and its ways various beliefs and custom. Compare the various ways that cultures respond to those outside their own faith, especially among the young adults.

Red Cliff - (ISBN: 978-1877135422)
by Bernard Beckett
Enjoy this self-exploratory tale, told in first person by a young New Zealand teenager. Start keeping a diary about events in your life that have resulted in changes in outlook, maturation, and goals.

Where We Once Belonged - (ISBN: 978-1885030276)
by Sia Figiel
Enjoy reading about the joys and woes of Samoan girls coming of age today. Compare adolescence in this series of loosely linked tales to what your young adult is experiencing today.

The Simple Gift - (ISBN: 978-0689868672)
by Steven Herrick
Written in verse, this delightful story portrays a young Australian boy who jumps freights and takes on the wide world of interesting characters along his journey. Uplifting, with a happy ending, this novel nevertheless presents an accurate portrait of the woes and joys of adolescence. After you finish reading this prose poem, talk about what you think the meaning of the title might be.

Looking for Alibrandi - (ISBN: 978-0531301425)
by Melina Marchetta
A young Australian teen struggles to find her identity not only within her home but also as an illegitimate Australian/Irish girl among upper class peers at an exclusive Catholic school. After she becomes friends with two boys of very different backgrounds, her birth father shows up to complicate things even further. Josephine manages to think for herself and to use her sometimes painful experiences as steps on the road to maturity. Talk about what your teen has in common with the sometimes outspoken character who stars in this book.

Year of Secret Assignments - (ISBN: 0439498813)
by Jaclyn Moriarty
Two Australian high schools battle against each other with letters, emails, and faxes when a teacher assigns the girls’ school and the boys’ school the task of becoming pen pals. In a highly original approach to describing young adult angst, Moriarty depicts relationships that any culture can relate to. The characters experience the normal range of maturing teen emotions, from love interest to outright fear. Ask your young adult to predict what the teens will do once the teacher makes the assignment.

Welcome to the South Seas: Contemporary New Zealand Art for Young People - (ISBN: 978-1869403287)
by Gregory O'Brien
Learn about recent developments in visual arts in New Zealand by paging through this informative survey of important artists and their work. Talk about which images epitomize NZ culture for you. How does this artwork seem unique?

Getting the Girl - (ISBN: 978-0439389501)
by Markus Zusak
In the sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe, two brothers from a rough family pass off girlfriends until one brother, Cameron, discovers his voice as a young writer. Alternating between Cameron’s coming of age agonies, attempts to find a girl friend, and developing identity as a writer (seen in quotes from parts of his own book), this book about boys’ maturing is a welcome addition to the heavily female-dominated coming- of-age genre. Encourage your son to talk to an older male relative or friend to find out if they ever dated the same girls as their brothers.

More books to consider:

By the River - (ISBN: 1-932425-72-1)
by Steven Herrick

Saving Francesca - (ISBN: 978-0375829826)
by Melina Marchetta

Cross Tides - (ISBN: 978-1877135927)
by Lorraine Orman

I Am the Messenger - (ISBN: 978-0375836671)
by Markus Zusak





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