Learning about cultural diversity through the Premiers’ Reading Challenge

​With a student population representing about 40 different nationalities, Kilberry Valley Primary School students say reading culturally diverse books helps them learn about each other.

Kilberry Valley Primary School
Kilberry Valley Primary School

Principal Neil Cunningham says Kilberry Valley Primary School has participated in the Premiers' Reading Challenge every year, long before he started working at the school 10 years ago. Last year, 522 students completed the challenge.

'It's been a strong part of the school culture,' Neil says. 'We've had some really passionate staff who have driven it over the ​years.'

Neil asked his students why we should read diverse books.

  • 'So we can learn what p​eople do in different countries,' says Sanela in Year 1.
  • 'To learn about people from other countries' talents,' says Pia in Year 1.
  • 'So we can make a 'text to self' connection,' says Lilly in Year 1, echoing the concepts she learned in class. In her class, teachers encourage students to talk about the connections they make between texts and their own experiences.
  • 'It helps us learn about others,' says Sugresia in Year 1.
  • 'To learn about different cultures and countries,' says Ella in Year 6.
  • 'If we are visiting a country, we could learn about their celebrations,' says Raveen in Year 6.

Early years

Wide Big World by Maxine Beneba Clarke and Isobel Knowles

Wide Big World explores and celebrates differences in a multicultural schoolyard. On the Reading Challenge booklist.

I’m Australian Too by M​em Fox ​and Ronojoy Ghosh 

This vibrant picture book tells the stories of multicultural Australians from around the world through rhyme. It encourages young readers to ask and answer questions about their own identities. On the Reading Challenge booklist.

Primary school

My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood

In English and Arabic, this pictu​​re book tells the story of a refugee girl's loneliness and anxiety in a new country – and the kindness of a new friend. On the Reading Challenge booklist.

Game Day! series by Patty Mills and Jared Thomas 

Professional basketballer, Olympian and Torres Strait Islander and Kokatha man Patty Mills, together with Nukunu young adult writer Dr Jared Thomas, have written a series of young adult books. 

The Game Day! series is about young Patty Mills's dreams of playing basketball, his relationship with his people, and dealing with challenges like racist bullying. On the Reading Challenge booklist.

The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin and Anne Spudvilas 

This is a childrens' book adaption of the story of Li Cunxin, Mao's Last Dancer. Growing up in a poor family in China, Li was chosen to be a ballet dancer for the newly-formed Chinese Communist Party. 

Li later defected to the USA, then eventually came to live in Australia. On the Reading Challenge booklist.

My Girragundji by Meme McDonald and Boori Monty Pryor 

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018, this book tells the story of an Indigenous boy growing up between two worlds. A bad spirit haunts his house at night and bullies torment him at school. But with the help of his Girragundji, a green tree frog, he finds the courage to face his fears. On the Reading Challenge booklist.

Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman

A group of soccer-loving kids dream of leading Australia to victory in the next World Cup. And to do it, they have to flee war-torn Afghanistan in a boat to Australia. Beloved Australian children's author Morris Gleitzman wrote this book with the help of an Afghani refugee family, with the aim of telling the human side of refugees and asylum seekers who come to Australia. On the Reading Challenge booklist.

Secondary School

Ting Ting and the Ghost Hunter by Gabrielle Wang

Thirteen-year-old Ting Ting has learned the ancient skills and art of ghost hunting from her adopted grandmother, Por Por, a famous ghost hunter. When Por Por disappears, Ting Ting sets out to save her – confronting a dangerous ghost on the way. 

Chinese-Australian author Gabrielle Wang draws from Chinese mythology to tell stories with young, strong female characters. Ting Ting and the Ghost Hunter is the sequel to Gabrielle Wang's best-selling novel, A Ghost in my Suitcase. On the Reading Challenge booklist. 

You Must be Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied

New girl at school Layla stands out – she's talkative, she wears a headscarf and she's begun her time at school with a suspension. But despite everything, she's determined to prove herself and win an invention competition. This is the first young adult book written by activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Currently being reviewed for addition to the Reading Challenge booklist.

Lion: A long Way Home (Young Reader's Edition) by Saroo Brierly

Saroo Brierly is an Indian adoptee who grew up in Australia. After years of searching for his birth family in India, he found his mother on Google Maps. Saroo's story was first published as a memoir, then adapted for  film, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. This edition has been edited for younger readers. On the Reading Challenge booklist.

See more culturally diverse books.

See all the Premiers' Reading Challenge book lists.

​Premiers' Reading Challenge

For 15 years, the Premiers' Reading Challenge has inspired children to read more and read widely.

Literacy and numeracy skills lay the foundation for success in learning and in life, and the Challenge is a practical and fun way for children and students from birth to Year 10 to build these life skills. Register for the challenge and see the booklist at Premiers' Reading Challenge.