Reflection on a Resource – Fiction Books external image 51NRDEKEDFL._SL500_AA300_.jpgexternal image 9781865042671-crop-325x325.jpg

Two fiction books were used in the teaching of this unit, ‘My Place’ written by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins (1987) and ‘My Story – Surviving Sydney Cove’ written by Goldie Alexander (2000).

‘My Place’ is a series of brief literary recounts based on a range of different characters from different cultures and time periods in Australia’s History. The character narrators are all children, who lived in Australian during different decades from 1788 to 1988 (although in this unit the students concentrate on the recounts between 1808-1798). Each child tells a brief story of their life and draws a map of where they live. There are also illustrations that reflect the time period the character is from.

‘My Story – Surviving Sydney Cove’ is a diary of a 13 year old girl named Elizabeth Harvey who was convicted of stealing a gown and bonnet and transported to Australia on the First Fleet (Alexander, 2000, p.1). She is writing this diary to send to her younger brother Edward who is still in England.

These two books were chosen firstly because of their structure, as they are both literary recounts. ‘My Story – Surviving Sydney Cove’ is in the form of a diary entry and is all written from perspective of one character and ‘My Place’ is a number of short literary recounts based on a number of characters. This is not only the text type that the students are required to produce as part of their multimodal text, but also one that they must learn to successfully achieve certain outcomes for Stage 2. According to the Board of Studies (1998) students must ‘interpret a range of literary texts’ and also ‘learn about the structures of these texts’ (p.6). Therefore the study of these texts themselves, and the explicit teaching of their structure, ensures that these outcomes are met.

Students are also required to ‘create’ literary texts (Board of Studies, 1998, p.6), and they do that in this unit of work. Reading these books beforehand as a class, and learning from them the structure and grammatical features of a recount, will assist the students in creating their own literary recount.

The second reason these texts were chosen is that while they address the English component of this unit, they also link directly to the related KLA and focal point of the unit which is HSIE, and more particularly the outcomes in Change and Continuity Strand on British Colonisation (Board of Studies, 1998, p.20). This means that while these both texts can be studied for their structure, their content is also very relevant. While these are both fiction books, they both also touch on aspects of Australia’s history with a degree of accuracy. One of the authors of ‘My Place’, Nadia Wheatley, has completed a lot of postgraduate work in Australian History (Wheatley, 2008, para 4) and ‘My Story – Surviving Sydney Cove’ is partly based on the real life story of Elizabeth Hayward, the youngest female convict shipped to Botany Bay (Alexander, 2000, p.6).

According to Hall (2002), teachers should use books, in particular picture books, to ‘provide the mood for character studies’ and to ‘set the mood for historical topics’ (p.4). This is exactly what these books aim to do in this unit of work. Students will be required to write a literary recount from the perspective of a character much like the characters in these two books, thus reading these books early in the unit, and getting them familiar with the time period and characters will not only assist them in writing their recount, but also get them thinking about other elements of their multimodal text on Colonial Australia, such as the artwork, and the voice recording.

Sarah Parish


Alexander, G. (2000). My Story – Surviving Sydney Cove. Linfield: Scholastic Australia Pty Limited.

Alexander, G. (2000). Teachers Notes for My Story: Surviving Sydney Cove. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from

Board of Studies NSW. (1998). English K-6 Syllabus. Sydney: Author

Board of Studies NSW. (1998). Human Society & Its Environment K-6 Syllabus. Sydney: Author

Hall, S. (2002). Using Picture Storybooks to Teach Literary Devices (Volume 3). Westport: Oryx Press

Wheatley, N. (2008). Walker Books Classroom Ideas – My Place. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from

Wheatley, N. & Rawlins, D. (1987). My Place. Melbourne: Collins Dove.