We live in a time where Australians come from more than 200 countries, speak over 300 distinct languages and belong to more than 100 different religious groups (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016). Plus, there are over 500 Aboriginal nations in Australia with over 200 language groups and 800 dialects (AIATSIS 2021). But how many of these countries, languages and religious groups are represented in the books we share in the classroom?

Dr Helen Adam explains the importance of this hot topic in her book Transforming Practice: Transforming Lives Through Diverse Children’s Literature

“One of the greatest challenges facing 21st-century educators in Australia is that of the diverse nature of our classrooms. Very often the children considered to be at greatest risk of poor academic outcomes are those from marginalised and minoritised backgrounds. These same children are often those whose own lives, backgrounds and communities are invisible in the resources used in our schools. 

This issue of invisibility impacts considerably on these children’s chances of academic success and social and emotional strength. A curriculum that is underpinned by diverse and inclusive literature can help educators create more inclusive and equitable classrooms, which can only have benefits for all.”

In an era of what Dr Adam describes as “high stakes accountability,” it is vital that students are able to learn in inclusive, supportive classrooms. It’s also critical that teachers open up multiple opportunities for students to deeply engage with what they’re learning – by providing students with resources that reflect a diversity of identities, genders, ethnicities and life experiences. 


Here are PETAA’s teacher resources supporting teaching and learning with diverse children’s literature

Many of these resources are exclusively available for PETAA members. Become a PETAA member to access the tools you need to confidently teach with a diverse range of rich children’s literature.

On-demand conference presentations
Transforming lives through diverse children’s literature (PETAA Conference 2021): An inspiring keynote from Helen Adam on selecting diverse texts for your classroom – and how to use them. 

Teacher reference books
Transforming practice: Transforming lives through diverse children’s literature, by Helen Adam: This teacher text, which was a highly commended primary reference resource at the Educational Publishing Awards Australia 2022, explores the research and evidence-based best instructional practice that will assist teachers in selecting and using diverse literature with children as they implement the Australian Curriculum and Early Years Learning Framework.

On-demand webinars
Building a library of diverse children’s literature: Ping Tian, who collaborated with the State Library of NSW, library staff across the state, and project partner Helen Caple (UNSW) to develop a diverse picture book reading list resource, describes the process of identifying and cataloguing diverse books for teachers and librarians – and how to evaluate books for your own collection. 
The power and potential of picture books: Radhiah Chowdhury, a commissioning editor and audio producer for children and adults – and a picture book author – talks about the power and potential of picture books for children when they are thoughtfully chosen and fairly representative of student readers). 

Teacher professional learning
Diverse books matter: This 5 hour PL course is a critical journey for educators wanting to use more diverse literature in their primary classroom, but unsure of where or how to start. It draws on the doctoral studies of Dr Helen Adam and the work of many other scholars that can help educators find ways to extend and transform their practice. In doing so, educators can help achieve equitable outcomes for all children and help create citizens with a strong sense of identity, social justice and sense of place in our world.

Book chapters/excerpts
Aboriginal children’s literature: a time for healing? In this chapter from Transforming Practice: Transforming lives through diverse children’s literature, Libby Jackson-Barrett discusses how Australia's existing education system can re-imagine the use of Aboriginal literature in classrooms through culturally responsive pedagogy in order to share authentic Indigenous knowledges, experiences and stories.

Articles and papers
Differentiating uses of literature in classrooms: Midway through this paper Jasmine Seymour (Cooee Mittigar, Baby Business) discusses how teachers’ selection of literature sends powerful messages to students and considers the role of First Nations stories in primary classrooms.
Educating for values and diversity through culturally inclusive children’s literature: In this practical paper, Helen Adam and Laurie Harper demonstrate how culturally inclusive literature can help students in affirmation of their identities, part of the general capabilities within the Australian Curriculum. 

Further resources
The diverse classrooms page on the PETAA Literacy Resources Portal for Early Career Teachers provides several free resources for teachers as a starting point into this topic and related issues, including a checklist for selecting and evaluating multicultural picture storybooks.

Related Professional Learning Courses