Our Race for Reconciliation, by Anita Heiss

I hear Mum again, and almost wish I had a different name, like Cathy. And then I see her, my hero, Cathy Freeman. In my mind she is running gracefully on the track; she is smiling and isn’t even showing any effect of the heat of the sun. She’s breathing at the correct pace, not like me, panting away. And then I imagine I am her, turning my legs over in smooth rotation, faster and faster, focusing on the finish line, and before I know it, I’m there. I’ve overtaken the two girls who were ahead of me.

Mel Gordon loves to run. Her idol is Cathy Freeman, Australia’s best sprinter. Mel wants to be as good as Cathy one day – and represent Australia in the Olympics. First, though, she wants to see Cathy run at the Sydney Olympics, and win gold.

The year 2000 turns out to be a big one for Mel, as for many Australians. As well as the looming Olympics, a letter to Cathy Freeman leads to her promising to visit the school during Reconciliation Week. And before that, Mel’s family are planning a road trip to Sydney to take part in Corroboree 2000, a landmark march to celebrate Australia’s indigenous heritage, and push for reconciliation and, particularly, an apology for the stolen generation. Mel’s Nanna is a member of the Stolen Generation, making the march especially significant and, while Mel and her twin brother Sam love sport and school, there are times when they have to educate their non-Murri classmates about issues surrounding race and equality.

Part of Scholastic’s My Australian Story imprint, Our Race for Reconciliation explores major events of the turn of the millenium in Australia, with a special focus on the issue of Reconciliation, a topic which is always important in Australia, but is particularly significant in 2017, being the 50th anniversary year of the 1967 Referendum, which saw Australians vote for recognition of Aboriginal people. Mel’s story of wanting to emulate a role model is one which many children, from varied backgrounds, will connect with, and Heiss weaves the various issues and historical events into the story in a wonderful blend of entertainment and education.

A must-read for middle and upper primary children.

Our Race for Reconciliation, by Anita Heiss
Omnibus Books, 2017
ISBN 9781760276119

Stories for Simon, by Lisa Miranda Sarzin & Lauren Briggs

Stories for Simon‘We’ll always be sorry, Simon. Not so that we feel sad or guilty, but to always remember the bad things that happened and make sure that they never happen again. That way, the future will be as bright as you can imagine it.

When Simon’s uncle sends him a beautifully painted boomerang, Simon is delighted. But it is a newspaper article, wrapped around the boomerang, that Simon learns from. The article is about the Prime Minister’s apology to the Stolen Generations. Simon and his friends start to learn what the word ‘sorry’ means, and why the word has such meaning for all Australians. The adults in Simon’s life help him to understand what happened to the Stolen Generations, and why we should remember, but it is when he meets Aunty Betty, herself a member of the Stolen Generation, that he gains new understanding.

Stories for Simon is a moving, important story about the National Apology, why it was necessary and why we must continue to be sorry for what happened to the Stolen Generation. Told as a story with mystical elements, it provides an accessible tool for children to understand reconciliation and discuss these important issues at school and at home.

created by two non-indigenous Australian mothers, with the mentorship of Indigenous Elder Vic Simms and endorsed by Adam Goodes and his cousin Michael O’Loughlin from the Goodes O’Loughlin Foundation, Stories for Simon is a story of hope and understanding.

Stories for Simon, by Lisa Miranda Sarzin & Lauren Briggs
Random House Australia, 2015
ISBN 9780857987440

Available from good bookstores and online.