Diverse Cultures

Lemons in the Chicken Wire

Alison Whittaker


Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
poetry
queer
trans and gender diverse

I Am Malala

Malala Yousafzai


education
memoir
Pakistani

Yassmin’s Story

Yassmin Abdel-Magied


memoir
Muslim Australian

Not Just Black and White

Lesley and Tammy Williams


Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
Australian history
non-fiction
racism
Stolen Generations

The Big Black Thing

Sweatshop


Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
anthology
Australian
refugee stories

Growing Up Asian in Australia

Alice Pung (ed)


anthology
Asian Australian
memoir

Laurinda

Alice Pung


Asian Australian
class
fiction
young adult

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean

Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar and Anita Roy (eds)


Australian
comics
fiction
Indian
short stories
young adult

Sister Heart

Sally Morgan


Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
poetry
Stolen Generations

Grace Beside Me

Sue McPherson


Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
Stolen Generations
young adult

Looking for Alibrandi

Melina Marchetta


fiction
identity
Italian Australian
young adult

Am I Black Enough for You?

Anita Heiss


Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
memoir
racism

Although Australia is made up of people of many cultures, faiths and nations, the extent of that diversity is still greatly under-represented in the stories we read. Many of the stories we see, read and hear come from white perspectives, and for Australia’s history and cultural diversity to be acknowledged, we need to be reading more stories from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander authors, and those from varied cultural backgrounds. This list seeks to tip the scales in order to highlight the reality and diversity of Australian society, and to offer a starting point for young people struggling to find characters, stories and language they can relate to.

Most of the texts are ‘Own Voices’, meaning they are authored by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers or those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, whose personal experiences inform their work or whose central protagonist/s share their identities. Tags relate to the characters in the story.

Resources

Thinking Points

  • What does being ‘Australian’ mean to you?
  • How are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds represented in the books you read, films you watch or other media you encounter? Are they represented often enough?
  • What do the lives of the people around you look like? Do they all come from families, communities or backgrounds that look, sound or behave like yours?
  • How do you feel when you read books that don’t reflect the realities of your life or your friends’ lives?
  • What message do you think it sends to readers when certain segments of the population are missing from the books they read?
  • When has a book or another piece of writing helped you understand someone different from yourself? How did it change your thinking about people who are different, or live differently, from you?
  • How do these writers challenge stereotypes about Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people or those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds?
  • How are the experiences of the authors woven into the works on this reading list? How does the author’s lived experience inform the characters and setting and help them write with nuance and depth, rather than relying on stereotypes? How do you think the book would change if the author didn’t have personal experience to draw on?
  • Where do you see characters in these texts pushing back against multiple stereotypes?
  • How do characters from different cultural backgrounds interact with each other in the book? Are their interactions positive or negative? In these moments, do you think the author is reflecting reality, highlighting a particular issue, or imagining a better world? What are the benefits of each of these approaches?
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