Fiction, Film and other Texts a support document for the English Years 7–10 Syllabus

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Fiction, Film and other Texts

A support document for the

English Years 7–10 Syllabus

© 2003 Copyright Board of Studies NSW for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.

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Published by

Board of Studies NSW

GPO Box 5300

Sydney NSW 2001


Tel: (02) 9367 8111

Fax: (02) 9367 8484

June 2003
ISBN 1 74099 502 3

Table of Contents

Foreword 4

General Preface

Background 5

Purpose of the Lists 5

The Choice of Texts 5

Classic Texts 6

Everyday and Workplace Texts 6


Preface 8

Stage 4 10

Picture Books Stage 4 18

Stage 5 20


Preface 32

Stage 4 34

Stage 5 37


Preface 40

Stage 4 41

Stage 5 46


Preface 53

Stage 4 54

Picture Books Stage 4 58

Stage 5 59


Preface 64

Stage 4 65

Stage 5 67

Media and Multimedia

Preface 71

Stage 4 72

Stage 5 75

Texts for students in Years 7 to 10 who have not yet achieved Stage 3 outcomes

Preface 79

Fiction 80

Nonfiction 83

Appendix 1: Winners of major book awards for children and young adults 85

Appendix 2: Mapping of texts and other requirements

Stage 4 93

Stage 5 100
The Fiction, Film and Other Texts list is a compilation of quality reading and viewing for students in Years 7 to 10. It combines classics and successful teaching texts with innovative recent works. To reflect the rich diversity of the school population in NSW a range of difficulty, themes and cultural orientations is reflected through the lists. This diversity is also evident in the broad scope of the Fiction, Film and Other Texts list. It includes fiction as well as nonfiction, poetry, drama, film, media and multimedia texts.
I would like to acknowledge the support given to the development of the Fiction, Film and Other Texts list by Dr Wayne Sawyer, Chair of the NSW Board of Studies’ English Board Curriculum Committee. The list also benefited from the expertise of English teachers on the Board Curriculum Committee: Matt Brown from Wagga Wagga High, Jae Croshaw from Meriden School, Catherine Doherty from Monte Sant Angelo, Sue Gazis from St George Girls High, Gordon Shrubb from Bradfield College and Suzi Williams from Nowra Technology High School. The Board of Studies gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Ernie Tucker, President of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (NSW Branch) for his contribution to the Working Party and for permission to use Council annotations of notable Australian Children’s books. The Board also gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Department of Education and Training for the use of reviews from the Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate quarterly journal, Scan, and the Premier’s Reading List.
I commend the Fiction, Film and Other Texts list to you as a lasting resource for English teachers, parents and students.

(Professor) Gordon Stanley


Board of Studies

General Preface
The texts listed here are suitable for study in Years 7 to 10. The texts listed are not prescribed for study. A predecessor of this publication was Works and Plays (Board of Studies, 1992), a collection of recommended quality texts for Years 9 and 10. The present recommended text list owes much to Works and Plays in content, format and function while providing a broader support document for the new English Years 7–10 Syllabus (2002).
Texts in this document are listed for Stages 4 and 5 in the following categories:

  • fiction

  • poetry

  • film

  • nonfiction

  • drama

  • media and multimedia (including websites and CD-ROMs).

The syllabus provides that students must study examples of spoken, print and visual texts with the further requirement that the selection of texts must give students experience of:

  • a widely-defined Australian literature and other Australian texts, including those which give insight into Aboriginal experiences and multicultural experiences in Australia

  • literature from other countries and times

  • cultural heritages, popular cultures and youth cultures

  • picture books

  • Shakespearean drama in Stage 5

  • everyday and workplace texts

  • a range of social, gender and cultural perspectives.

An additional section, Texts for students in Years 7 to 10 who have not yet achieved Stage 3 outcomes, has been included to parallel that section in the syllabus. There are two appendices:

  • winners of major Australian and international book awards for children and young adults

  • texts mapped against the syllabus requirements.

Purposes of the Lists
The lists highlight quality texts as support material for the new English Years 7–10 Syllabus. They will inform parents, schools, teachers and students of recent developments in literature, film, media and multimedia in order to augment those texts traditionally studied in schools from Year 7 to Year 10.

The Choice of Texts
Texts were selected for this list on the basis of their ability to challenge the reader, texts that have layered and multiple meanings, and that provoke thought. The classroom use of texts from these lists should help students gain pleasure and power from the exploration of real and imaginary (including virtual) worlds.
Many of the texts on the list are already widely recognised as successful teaching texts in these terms and those not already widely in use have been judged to be potentially successful in the classroom in the same way.
None of the lists is exhaustive in any sense and each should be regarded as representative of the range and variety of texts to be studied in Stages 4 and 5. The lists should be regarded as representing not only a range of texts but also of teaching possibilities. There has been no attempt to label texts as being more suitable for whole-class, small-group or individual study, or for depth study or wide reading.
Students whose first language is not English need access to good literature in English as well as in their own language. The lists attempt to reflect the cultural diversity of contemporary Australia and to give access to translated literature.
The syllabus also provides for differentiation between the stages as students engage with texts. Students in Stages 4 and 5 will read and view a wide range of texts, through both wide and close study, for understanding, critical analysis, interpretation and pleasure.
Text selection balances notions of merit with the sensitivities, needs, interests and abilities of readers.
Classic Texts
The specific historical and social circumstances that make any particular generation value a text as a classic have meant that, in the school setting, classic texts have traditionally fallen into three groups:

  • adult texts such as many of those taught in the NSW Higher School Certificate English courses

  • children’s texts such as The Wind in the Willows which are generally and appropriately taught in the earlier years of schooling

  • those texts which have become appropriated for the middle adolescent years such as Lord of the Flies or To Kill a Mockingbird.

Schools will want to continue choosing classic texts for study in Years 7 to 10. The text lists in this document represent a body of quality material that is appropriate for students in Years 7 to 10. Specific suggestions for classic texts are included in each section. Some of the books on these lists are already regarded as classics of their genre and many others may well become so.

Everyday and Workplace Texts
Students who are studying English in Stages 4 and 5 are required to have experience of everyday and workplace texts. These are texts they will encounter in school, home and society and include: diaries and journals, instructions, labels, captions, notices, brochures, catalogues, posters, leaflets, invitations, apologies, complaints, messages, questionnaires, forms, personal letters, telephone conversations, postcards, greeting cards, school and class rules, advertising, public addresses, art works, chat rooms, and arguments (written, spoken and multimodal) which communicate a point of view, including speeches and pamphlets.
Schools will provide encounters with texts as diverse as assemblies checklists, procedures, class/subject contracts, daily bulletins/notices, discussions and debates, informational texts (spoken, written, visual), newsletters, notes, summaries, essays, recounts and descriptions, observations, comments, explanations, reports, school magazines, school proformas and surveys.
Students will encounter many workplace texts including formal letters, reports, job applications (curricula vitae and resumés), formal meeting procedures, interviews, questions, public addresses, memoranda, faxes, emails, work experience reports, contracts, agreements, goal outlines, meeting minutes, agendas, instructions, policies and instruction manuals.
Engagement with these types of everyday texts will assist students in both school and workplace settings. Teachers should take every opportunity to have students apply the skills, knowledge and understanding acquired in English to the widest possible variety of texts encountered formally and informally.

The aim of English in Years 7 to 10 is to enable students to use, understand, appreciate, reflect on and enjoy the English language in a variety of texts and to shape meaning in ways that are imaginative, interpretive, critical and powerful. These lists provide teachers with a starting point from which to explore further appropriate literature for students in Years 7 to 10.
Books on the lists represent a variety of styles, perspectives and themes. They range across a number of different types of narrative. There is a broad range of place and time settings on the list and the genres represented include fantasy, humour, adventure, historical and social realism. Social and ethical issues such as individual and community morality are raised. Survival in extreme or unusual circumstances is seen from a variety of perspectives in these novels and short stories as well as the theme of growing up. A range of protagonists is represented.
The fiction lists reflect contemporary texts but this is not to suggest that students will not continue to benefit from exposure to such classics as:
Richard Adams Watership Down

Louisa May Alcott Little Women

Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice

Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre

Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland

Marcus Clarke For the Term of His Natural Life

Charles Dickens Great Expectations

Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows

Daphne du Maurier Rebecca

George Eliot Silas Marner

Miles Franklin My Brilliant Career

William Golding Lord of the Flies

Ernest Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea

Frances Hodgson Burnett The Secret Garden

Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book

George Johnston My Brother Jack

Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

C S Lewis The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

George Orwell Animal Farm

Henry Handel Richardson The Getting of Wisdom

John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men

J R R Tolkein The Hobbit

Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray
Many of these texts can be made relevant to contemporary concerns. For instance the aspects of racism raised in To Kill a Mockingbird are still as urgent as when the book was written. Modern classics such as Robert C O’Brien’s Z for Zachariah and Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mr Tom, Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins, Theodore Taylor’s The Cay, Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy and Ruth Park’s Playing Beatie Bow have found willing audiences in many classrooms.
Some of these classics enable students to experience the literature of other countries and times, a requirement of the syllabus. Students also need to experience a widely defined Australian literature and other Australian texts, including those that give insight into Aboriginal experiences and multicultural experiences in Australia. They need to engage with texts drawn from cultural heritages, popular cultures and youth cultures. These lists reflect this aspect of the syllabus, in keeping with the other criteria for choice as outlined in the General Preface. Some of the books on these fiction lists have already become classics in their own right.
Short stories and picture books provide an enjoyable and valuable range of imaginative fiction well within the grasp of all students. Classic picture books such as Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and Outside Over There provide an opportunity for students to consider the effect of combining visual and printed texts to tell a story that might have a moral or allegorical level of significance. Many of the picture books listed here are aimed at an older audience and should have a special place in our secondary classrooms.
The brevity of short stories makes them accessible to those who are still acquiring the skills of concentration required for extended works of fiction, while the subtlety and sophistication of some stories provide challenges of interpretation and response for more experienced readers. Such students may be encouraged to read the stories of some of the great writers in the genre including Anton Chekhov, Guy de Maupassant, W Somerset Maugham, O Henry, Edgar Allan Poe, Katherine Mansfield and Henry Lawson together with more modern writers such as Olga Masters, Tim Winton or Alice Munro. Stage 5 students may also be led to the long short story or novella form, as practised by John Steinbeck, Elizabeth Jolley and A S Byatt, by considering some of the stories listed here.
Students might use their study of short stories to consider how subject matter shapes the form of the story into romance, thriller, adventure, sci-fi, social realism, humour or fantasy. They could consider how their study of picture books expands their awareness of visual texts and they might explore how the short story and the picture book structure a variety of narratives and represent character.
The range of styles and subject matter represented in this list should encourage active student response in reading, writing, speaking, representing or perhaps shaping a text for performance.
Fiction Stage 4

David Almond

Hodder Children’s Books – ISBN: 0340716002
Skellig is a delightful story that captures the reader’s attention from the intriguing opening line. The story centres on the character of Michael, a young boy who has just moved house. Michael is coping with a baby sister who is ill and a ‘thing’ he discovers in the garage that has lost the will to live. Michael calls on his unusual neighbour Mina to help him to save Skellig and through this experience opens himself up to the magic and mystery of nature and of life. Skellig is a story of love and faith, simply told, that imparts a message of optimism to young readers. Skellig won the 1998 Carnegie Medal and the 1998 Whitbread Book Award for best children’s book.

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