Australia is a continent populated mostly by immigrants or their descendants. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2016, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in Australia was fewer than 3 per cent of the population. This means that over 97 have ancestors who were born elsewhere, though most will feel the influence of no more than two previous generations and consider themselves firmly “Australian”. In fact, the number of Australians born overseas is still increasing and was over 28 per cent in 2016.
What this means for teachers in Australia, is that the composition of their classes will include children from a great diversity of cultural backgrounds. Possibly it is the same for you.
This proxy Australian anthem I Am Australian, written by Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton, is a moving song that honours the diversity of cultures in Australia, from the First Australians to more recent immigrants. It is often sung in schools to help develop an understanding of and appreciation for the richness of the Australian peoples.
It is important to teach children acceptance of and appreciation for each other and their traditions. A supportive classroom will value each child’s contribution and heritage. Getting to know each other at the beginning of a school year provides the perfect opportunity for learning about the traditions of others. However, it can be done at any time of the year.
readilearn resources that assist you do this are
As well as being available individually, I have now collected them all into one zip folder for easy download–Family Traditions and Celebrations.
Note: If you wish to edit any of the editable documents but find they don’t format correctly on your computer, email me and I’ll see what I can do for you.
Reading stories that honour diversity about children from diverse backgrounds is a great way to help children develop understanding, acceptance and empathy. Two of my favourite picture books are by Australian author Mem Fox: Whoever You Are and I’m Australian Too.
Whoever You Are celebrates diversity and, at the same time, commonality. While appearance, words and food may all differ–inside we are just the same–all over the world.
I’m Australian Too is a celebration of multicultural Australia, depicting children from a wide range of cultural heritages, who are now all Australian too.
There are many other wonderful books about diversity to share with your class. I’m sure you have favourites of your own, or your school librarian will be happy to make suggestions. But if you are looking for more ideas, Multicultural Children’s Book Day has resources to help.
Celebrated on 27 January, Multicultural Children’s Book Day aims to create greater awareness of children’s books that celebrate diversity and to get more of these books into classrooms and libraries. I’m sure you’ll agree with that aim.
There is much to explore on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website; including resources such as, a list of diversity books and activities for teachers and parents, and a free Classroom Empathy Kit that includes a book list and activities to help children develop empathy. You can even sign up to get a free diversity book for your classroom.
(Note: There is also a great way for authors and publishers to help out by donating their books with multicultural themes.)
How do you celebrate cultural diversity in your classroom? Let me know your favourite multicultural picture books in the comments.
While the individual resources are available to subscribers only, to assist you celebrate the diversity of cultures in your classroom, the new zip folder Family Traditions and Celebrations will be available free until 19 February (after Chinese New Year).
Did you know that other readilearn resources include children from diverse backgrounds?
Check out these:
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.
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