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Respect by Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson | Book review, teaching resources and lesson ideas.

Updated: Oct 6, 2021

Today, I would like to acknowledge the Yuggera people as the Traditional Custodians of the beautiful land I am standing on today. From the mountains to the river, I open my heart and my eyes as I walk this land, listening, learning and caring for Country. I want to extend this respect to Elders; past, present and emerging and to all First Nations peoples reading this post today. We are all remembered here.

* Please know that this post is not sponsored. Each blog post is based on my own experiences, opinions, and what I have been taught, and does not represent all First Nations peoples. Connecting with your local First Nations Community is always the most respectful way for you to embed First Nations content specific to your area.

As teachers, respect is something that we try to model to our students every day, but what if there was a book that delivered this same message, was written by a First Nations Elder, delivering First Nations knowledge so deep, yet in a way that even our littlest students can understand? Now that is a book, I know we all want and need in our classrooms!

If you didn’t guess already, today’s teacher book review is the fittingly titled, Respect. Respect is a book that I share with my students and daughter, time and time again, and for me, Respect is not your standard, surface level children’s book, about manners or being polite. It goes far beyond these and delivers a message that runs deep into the souls of our students and shares a respect and understanding that is ‘old, older than red earth’ and sets a standard for change and the course of our futures through reconciliation, truth telling and of course, respect.

In this blog post, I want to share with you all of the things I love about Respect along with a host of matching resources, and as a part of the Wingaru Heal Country Challenge, I will also be including a FREE lesson for you to use in your classroom around this week's focus area of 'Sustainable Culture'.

© Magabala Books. ©Aunty Fay Muir ©Sue Lawson ©Lisa Kennedy

Book summary

Respect is a story of peace, knowing and belonging, told through the eyes of a little girl on a journey of growing and learning from her Ancestors, Elders, Community and Country. As the book deepens, her knowledge grows and her knowing strengthens. Through First Nations ways of listening, learning and sharing, she becomes strong in her culture, Community and herself.

The text

Respect is the first book in the ‘our place’ series and what an honour it is to be able to share with you a children's book infused with the deep knowledge shared by author and Boonwurrung Elder Aunty Fay Muir. Together, Aunty Fay Muir and award winning children’s book author, Sue Lawson, share with our students, our ways of sharing deep levels of understanding and knowledge and the core of our connections and respect, ‘We respect Country, each other, me’.

The illustrations

The illustrations, by Lisa Kennedy, a descendant of the Trawlwoolway people of north-east Tasmania, capture the respect and truth of our culture and share with our students the important role that respect has on our future, and a way forward together. They capture the gentleness of a child’s mind, while sharing a powerful message that runs deep into the soul of its youngest readers, through interconnected messages and a deep understanding.

One example of deep understanding and the levels that Lisa Kennedy has embedded into every page of this book, shows respect and speaks a truth to our ways of listening and learning. I want to share with you this very special page where you can see everyone coming together and gathering around the fire. While I was listening to Aunty Fay Muir speak a conversation she had with Sue Lawson (Which I will share with you later on), Aunty Fay shares with us the special meaning behind this illustration and who these incredible people are captured on the page. Who can you see sitting around the campfire?


Respect is published by the always outstanding, First Nations publishing house, Magabala Books. And, in my opinion, Respect is a centre piece for education, sharing our ways though storytelling, by Elders and Community and accompanied by illustrations that speak to the minds and souls of your students with circular levels of First Nations ways of teaching and learning. Magabala Books' work is always outstanding!

Matching resources for teachers and ways to embed

As you know, I love sharing First Nations children’s books with you but for me it is fundamentally important to also accompany these resources with quality teaching and explicit ways of embedding each resource respectfully into your teaching programs. So, let me share with you now, some great matching resources and lesson ideas for Respect.

1. Magabala Books Teacher notes

Of course the first set of matching resources I am going to mention here, is the set of detailed teacher notes supplied by Magabala Books. Just about every book published by Magabala Books comes with a set of teacher notes, which in my opinion is why they are the perfect place for all Australian teachers to begin their journey of embedding First Nations perspectives. You can rest assured that you are investing in quality First Nations resources, that provides you with the support you need as a teacher, to embed this resource into your programs in the most powerful and respectful way. These teacher notes were created by Christina Wheeler and contain:

  • An overview of the book

  • Themes

  • About the author and illustrator

  • The audience and writing style

  • Links to the Australian Curriculum

  • Classroom lesson and activity ideas divided into year groups with and aligned with the Curriculum

These teacher notes are detailed and come FREE for you to download straight off the Magabala Books website and I highly encourage you to refer to these whenever you are using a book published by Magabala Books.

Check out this little snippet, of just some of the activities from the Magabala Books teacher notes shared by this incredible First Nations publishing house on their instagram page.

2. Author and Illustrator biography

For me, sharing information about the author and illustrator of any book, is an opportunity for our students to gain a deeper understand around how and why the story came to be. For First Nations books, sharing and celebrating our people’s achievements, stories, where we come from and belong, not only helps our students to understand more about the book and the author and illustrator, but this inclusion:

  • plays a vital role in our nation’s path to reconciliation

  • provides students with an opportunity to learn a truer history of Australia

  • develops their understanding of First Nations peoples and our diversity

  • forms the foundation of knowledge for them to apply in the future and share with their friends, family and wider community.

Magabala Books has a dedicated page for each First Nations author and illustrator. To access the biographies related to Respect, and I will attach the links below for you to click on.

3. Interview about 'Respect', 'Family' and the 'Our Place' series with Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson

In a similar vein, for me, including author and illustrator interviews into my programs is a vital part of developing my students' knowledge and understanding, and they give a rare insight into the creative process and the minds behind wonderful titles, just like Respect.

Elders are our knowledge keepers and it is so important and such an honour for me, to be able to share and amplify the voice of Aunty Fay Muir, in her in depth conversation with co-author of Respect, Sue Lawson, hosted by Squishy Minnie Bookstore in collaboration with Magabala Books. In this conversation, Aunty Fay and Sue dive deep into both Respect and Family (which I will review at a later date), the first two books in the 'Our Place' series.

This conversation is just under an hour long, but I can assure you that it is well worth your time. Sue Lawson delivers questions in such a natural way for children to easily understand, and a way that Aunty Fay’s voice and deep knowledge can be heard and learnt from by both you and your students. There is just so much shared in this in comprehensive conversation, from talking about; Country and family kinship systems, to language and behind the scenes insights about the illustrations. To know that teachers and students are learning from our Elders, makes my heart so full and really does bring our ways into the classroom and supports our nation's journey towards reconciliation.

As you can see by looking at this lengthy list below, of main topics and questions covered by Aunty Fay and Sue, this is a conversation that will be beneficial to both your students and you as well. It is engaging, highly interactive, practical (for both teachers and students) and is filled full of activities and learning opportunities for you to embed into your teaching.

The list below is a list of just some, of the main topics and questions covered in this incredible clip. I honestly can't wait for you to watch it and hear everything you loved and learnt, and how this has helped you to embed Respect into your teaching.

  • Why do we call Aunty Fay , Aunty?

  • What does being an Elder mean and what is their role?

  • The meaning of Country and how this is different to the meaning of Australia as a country.

  • Aunty Fay's learning and knowledge of language

  • Why this series is called 'Our Place'.

  • Family kinship systems

  • Why are stories and songs important?

  • What is the meaning of knowledge and why is it important?

  • The role that Country plays in family

  • Heads, shoulders, knees and toes sung by Aunty Fay Muir in English and then translated into Boonwurrung.

  • Aunty Fay shares a family tree activity

  • Why it is important for everyone to understand First Nations culture

  • Insight into the illustrations of Respect

  • What are possum skin cloaks and possum skin drums and what are their importance?

  • VACL (Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages)

I am personally so grateful to Aunty Fay Muir, Sue Lawson, Squishy Minnie Bookstore and of course Magabala Books for coming together to create such an incredible teaching and learning resource and for allowing me to share it with you today, it is a true honour and I am forever grateful!


©Aunty Fay Muir ©Sue Lawson ©Squishy Minnie Bookstore

Wingaru Heal Country Challenge

As you know, for the Wingaru Heal Country Challenge, my plan is to share a different First Nations children's book with you each week. This week I will be also sharing with you my favourite lesson idea for kindy / Prep through to year 4 from the Magabala Books Teacher Notes related to the focus area of 'Sustainable Culture' and of course linked to Respect. I have also linked each of these lessons to the 8 Ways Aboriginal Pedagogy, a pedagogy that was shared with me by Elders and Community in Dubbo on Wiradjuri Country and in Brewarrina on Ngemba Country.


So, to sum up this book, I would say... If you don't have Respect, then go and get it! I truly believe Respect is a centrepiece for education and should be in every classroom. It is a children's book that you can embed into your program anytime throughout the year, and as teachers, I know when I look at a book with a title that is as powerful as this one, it draws me in and I know it will not only draw you in but will be something so special, that you be busting to share this one with your students.

I really hope that today's post has given you some practical lessons and resources and has made embedding First Nations perspectives into your daily teaching a little bit easier. If you haven't already been over to the Magabala Books website, then you can do that by clicking here to check out all of the resources they have available.

I also really encourage you to check out Magabala Books on instagram @magabalabooks and to also join their mailing list to keep up to date with all of their new releases. They have so many incredible resources coming out ready for you to use in the classroom.

Want to buy Respect?

You can purchase Respect directly from Magabala Books, which helps support their growth as a not for profit organisation, to share our mobs stories with the world, and to help you to embed First Nations perspectives into your teaching.

Thank you!

I want to take a minute to express how deeply grateful I am to Aunty Fay Muir, Sue Lawson, Lisa Kennedy and the incredible team at Magabala Books for allowing me to share Respect with you today and thank you for continuing to create and share all of your work and talents with us! Having a children's book that captures the knowledge of our Elders and Community to share our ways through education, is such a powerful resource and it makes me so proud to be able to share this with my students and all of you today. Thank you!

I also want to thank the incredible Squishy Minnie Bookstore, and again thank Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson for allowing me to share their outstanding online conversation with you. It is yarns with Elders just like these that share a deep understanding and knowledge through education and bring our ways of listening and learning into the classroom. Thank you for taking the time to create such an incredible resource for teachers all around Australia, and for sharing your knowledge.

Share, like and comment

If you found today's post useful, please like this post and share it with your colleagues and I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below on what you loved about Respect? Have you shared it with your class yet or are you planning to? What matching resources resources did you use or plan to use with it? And, anything else you loved or other ways you have embedded Respect into your teaching.

Do you know of a great First Nations teaching resource?

I love seeing and sharing all of the new First Nations resources that are coming out, so if you know and use a great First Nations website or resource, that I haven't mentioned or featured in a blog post before, then I would love for you to send it through to my email so I can share it with everyone else.

Want your business or resources featured?

On the flip side, if you are a First Nations business or organisation who is interested in being featured on my blog please pop over to my contact page and send me an email, I would love to hear from you.

Want to be sent FREEBIES, new blog posts, resources and updates?

Remember, to keep up to date with all of the new and exciting First Nations teaching resources, books and freebies I want to share with you, don't forget to join our Community email list to get these updates sent straight to your email.

Finally, I have truly loved sharing Respect and all of these incredible resources with you today, and as always... Happy embedding!


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