Monday, March 14, 2011
I am grateful for STOLEN GIRL
I am often asked by teachers and librarians ‘How young is too young to tell children about the Stolen Generations?’ I think if we can tell stories about bushrangers and convicts as part of primary school education, we should also be telling (more) significant stories from our history. Particularly when you consider history related to government endorsed removal of Aboriginal children from their families, is still affecting most Aboriginal communities today.
The task of teaching children about the Stolen Generations is made easier by the various resources now available, easing students into learning and engaging with emotionally disturbing subject matter. Such material is much more challenging in adult fiction and non-fiction.
There are children’s books already on the subject by Magabala and IAD Press (targeting school children and their teachers), and this latest offering Stolen Girl written by Trina Saffioti and illustrated by Norma McDonald, is another priceless effort in ensuring that Australian children are engaged in history while being drawn in by inspiring mixed-media illustrations.
The story of the nameless fictional character in Stolen Girl, carefully and cautiously points out through text and images, the differences between life in the home she removed to (dorm life, routines, no family) to the family life she misses and dreams about (storytelling around the campfire, mornings with her mother on their verandah, fishing and swimming in the river).
I think works like these are essential for use in the classroom, for Australian children to understand their own sense of privilege –then and now – compared to Aboriginal children removed from their families in the past.
Saffioti, like myself, had a maternal grandmother taken from her family when she was very young. I can understand the author’s desire to use her skill to get some of the experiences – of her own family and others who suffered – onto the page and into the classroom.
Stolen Girl is available in-store now for $19.95 or direct from Magabala Books on-line.
Don’t forget to ask your local library and school library to order these titles in for everyone in to enjoy, even if they can’t afford to buy them themselves.