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Where can I find books by First Nations authors and illustrators? And how can I embed them?

Updated: Oct 6, 2021

Today, I would like to acknowledge the Yuggera, Jagera and Ugarapul 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 listening or reading this post today. We are all remembered here.

With so many teachers looking to begin their journey of embedding First Nations perspectives (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives) into their daily teaching, a question that comes up a lot is, "Where can I find genuine First Nations books, by First Nations authors and illustrators?" This is a great question, because even though it is not respectful to do so, there are still some books and resources out there, that lead teachers or buyers to believing they are written or made by First Nations people, when sadly they are not and it is not always easy for teachers to identify these disingenuous resources.

So, today I want to talk to you about an incredible not for profit organisation that you may or may not have heard of; Magabala Books. Based in Broome, Magabala Books is an Independent Indigenous Corporation that supports First Nations authors, artists and illustrators to publish a wide range of books from children's picture books, through to poetry, novels and so much more, all of which are written and illustrated by First Nations peoples, which gives teachers the reassurance that they are investing in a resource that is genuine and has been respectfully made.

This blog post is going to share with you 5 of my most favourite features of the Magabala Books website but specifically the 'Education' page on their website and how they will help you to embed First Nations perspectives into your teaching.

Alright so let's get stuck into it!

As you probably suspected, my favourite page from the Magabala Books website is the 'Education' page and this is obviously a place that we as teachers love and of course, I would highly recommend all teachers checking this out. This section of the Magabala Books website makes me so happy, for so many reasons! There are so many AMAZING features in this section, that I can't seem to type fast enough but I will give it my best shot anyway, so here we go!

Feature #1 - Teaching Indigenous Content

Firstly, I would like to start at the 'Teaching Indigenous Content' page. Magabala Books has created an entire page, completely dedicated to 'Teaching Indigenous Content' (which is located on the Education page of the Magabala website) and I think this is a really important place to begin this post today, because it will give anyone looking to embed First Nations perspectives into their teaching, a really good understanding of how you can respectfully use Magabala Books' First Nations resources in your classroom. In my experience, there are always a lot of questions from teachers around what they can and can't do, and I think this page is a great reference point for any teacher looking for some more clarity around teaching and embedding First Nations content.

Feature #2 - Australian Curriculum

The second feature I want to share with you today is the link to the Australian Curriculum. I love how Magabala Books have really made this Education page so user friendly, with teachers in mind. For any teacher who is not sure about how or where 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures' fits into the Australian Curriculum, Magabala Books has provided a direct link to the Australian Curriculum page, where you will find all of the relevant Cross - Curriculum Priority content descriptions and elaborations for 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures', along with a range of examples and curriculum resources. Soooo good and so teacher friendly!

Feature #3 - Teacher Notes

To make it super easy for all teachers to embed First Nations perspectives into their teaching, Magabala Books have created a FREE set of teacher notes to go with each book. This is such a great idea, because as a teacher you really want to be able to know what the book you are buying or embedding is all about before you invest in it, and that it is going to cover the topics you need it to cover for your program in a respectful and culturally appropriate way.

Magabala Books have done such an incredible job of including author and illustrator profile pages for each book and have also included these in the teacher notes. It is really a great resource for teachers to obviously find out more about the author or illustrator but, to also use it to identify where the author or illustrator is from and their connections to Country. This can be really helpful if you are wanting to teach about a certain area or place but more importantly though, it is a respectful way for teachers to show students that, First Nations peoples, cultures, languages and histories are diverse, unique and different (AIATSIS, 2020) and really gives teachers and students an opportunity to celebrate the connections to Country that each individual author and illustrator has.

The Magabala Books Teacher Notes also cover; the themes covered throughout the book, the audience and writing style of the author, classroom ideas, and links to the Australia Curriculum, which again just makes it so easy for any teacher to respectfully embed First Nations perspectives into their teaching.

Feature #4 - Reading Australia

In addition to the Magabala Books teacher notes, Magabala Books and Reading Australia have really gone above and beyond with this one. They have teamed up together and with the help of The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, teachers and educators have been employed to create and design a massive range of FREE. Yes, that's right! FREE! Lesson plans and teaching resources for teachers to use in their classrooms and as a part of their programs. I love this because not only does it make is so easy for teachers to take a lesson plan and embed it but because it was made with Magabala Books we know it has been done in consultation with First Nations peoples and it has been produced in a respectful way.

Feature #5 - Search and Filter options

My final favourite feature of the Magabala Books education page, is one that you may might think sounds a bit strange, and might not be one that you expect but it is one that makes a massive difference and here's why. I know thousands of websites that have got this wrong and I am sure you do too. So, you can imagine how happy I was when I found the search and filter section on the Magabala Books website. It is simple, but very accurate and I particularly LOVE, how you can search books by location, for example if you work on Wiradjuri Country in Western NSW, then in the Geographical Area tab on the left you would select 'Western NSW'. So simple, so teacher friendly! I love it! For me, it's features like these that make Magabala Books such great place for all teachers to invest in First Nations books through First Nations peoples.

If you are looking to embed more First Nations perspective into your teaching, then I highly encourage you to head over to have a look at the Magabala Books website. There are so many more amazing features on there but obviously I couldn't feature them all in this post so please go and check them out for yourself. I would absolutely recommend subscribing to the Magabala Books FREE mailing list to receive updates on incredible new teacher resources. And, lastly, I know that you might be able to find these books cheaper from other book stores but if you can, I would really recommend you supporting Magabala Books as the amazing not for profit corporation that it is, especially if you intend on using any of the FREE resources they have provided to you but also to support the ever growing list of wonderful First Nations authors, illustrators and artists that Magabala Books publishes work for.

As I mentioned earlier, Magabala Books is a not for profit corporation, so from today (11th of October) to the end of book week 2020 (Friday 23rd of October 2020), I will be donating $10 from every one of my Editable First Nations Author Study Bulletin Boards sold, to support the amazing work that Magabala Books do in supporting First Nations authors, illustrators and artists continue to create and share their amazing work.

I truly love creating beautiful meaningful spaces in classrooms for teachers to easily embed and celebrate First Nations perspectives all year round and these bulletin boards do that by covering the who, what, when, where and why of any First Nations author you like.

I personally paint each artwork and then digitally compose to it suit this format and layout.

So, each bulletin board comes with its own story and meaning.

These Editable First Nations Author Study Bulletin Boards will be released in a range of colours so remember to check those out too.

Remember, if you haven't already began to embed an Acknowledgment of Country into your everyday teaching then head over to my post on 'A first step to embedding First Nations perspectives into your everyday teaching' where we yarn about the who, what, when, where, why and how of an Acknowledgement of Country, share links to State and Territory guides for embedding an Acknowledgment of Country and where you can also download my FREE Editable Acknowledgment of Country Bulletin Board.

Thank you so much for reading my blog post today!

I truly hope this has helped you on your journey to embedding First Nations perspectives into your everyday teaching

Until next time,

Happy embedding!


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