Free Literature to Inspire and Inform

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English & Literature, Cross-Curriculum Priorities
& General Capabilities of Intercultural Understanding & Ethical Understanding
and Celebrations & Collections

Be enthralled, entranced, amused, heartbroken, enraged and challenged with this selection of free web-based visual stories for students of all ages. Digital stories offer literary engagement and enjoyment and also contribute to curriculum delivery – harness the power of digital and interactive literature to engage, teach and challenge students in an online environment.

Dr Jennie Bales – Adjunct Lecturer, Charles Sturt University

I wish to acknowledge the contributions of Charles Sturt University MEd (TL) students enrolled in ETL402 Literature Across the Curriculum. Their enthusiasm and success in identifying a range of powerful digital stories provided the initial inspiration and some content for this presentation. Successive cohorts have continued to provide resources to be included

jenbales@iprimus.com.au  | https://jenniebales.wordpress.com/  @JennieBales
Updated 24 August 2018
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History – Australian (chronological)

The Voyage to Van Diemen’s Land – Australian Maritime Museum with ABC Splash

An interactive game focusing in convict voyages to Australia. “The year is 1830. You’re the Surgeon Superintendent aboard a convict vessel transporting its human cargo from Britain to the far reaches of the known world – Van Diemen’s Land. You’re charged with delivering several hundred convicts to the colony in the shortest time with minimum loss of life. This is the way to make money and further your reputation and position. Are you up to the task?”

Lives and Stories of Colonial Women

Presented by ABC  Splash and prepared by the National Portrait Gallery, this resource presents the stories of five different colonial women: Trukanini, Theresa Sutcliffe Mort, Mary Windeyer, Caroline Chisholm and Lola Montez. Hear their stories and look at their portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, Australia.


Gold Rush

From the My Place digital collection Gold Rush is an interactive game where players take on a child persona who needs to make decisions to survive and succeed on the goldfields. The supporting narrative makes game playing like taking part in an historical story.


Simpson and his Donkey – Frane Lessac

This clip presents the text and illustrations of the Lessac’s book + original source photographs with the sound track of Bogle’s ‘And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ 0verlaid – an interesting compilation of multiple sources to present a different interpretation of the text. Useful as a comparison with the previous clip – same song, but different presentation techniques.

Gallipoli – The First Day (ABC production)


The Olden Days

Produced by the National Film Board 1947. This film provides an overview of Australia’s primary and secondary education system in the late 1940s. It looks at the various types of schools in the city and the outback and follows one girl from primary to high school. The film was intended primarily for English migrants who proposed to settle in Australia.

History – Ancient

Pyramid Builder (Ancient Egypt)

An interactive game presented as a story where the player is provided with information to  make decisions to ensure that a pyramid is successfully built. Problem solving and critical thinking are required to complete the challenge successfully.


Health & Well Being

How the Heart Actually Pumps Blood – Edmond Hui

Literary non-fiction: For most of history, scientists weren’t quite sure why our hearts were beating or even what purpose they served. Eventually, we realized that these thumping organs serve the vital task of pumping clean blood throughout the body. But how? Edmond Hui investigates how it all works by taking a closer look at the heart’s highly efficient ventricle system. This is one of a series of that explores the workings of the human body – search under Edmond Hui.

Science & Design

If I Built a House – Chris Van Dusen

IfIBuiltAHouseJack is designing the house of his dreams, complete with a racetrack, flying room, and gigantic slide. Inspiration for young inventors to imagine their own fantastical designs.
Teacher notes.


The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

TheMagnificentThingA little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed.
Teacher notes.

Rosie Revere, Engineer – Andrea Beatty & David Roberts

rosie-revere-engineerRosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her Great, Great Aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal–to fly–Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true.
Teacher notes.



Handa’s Surprise  &  Handa’s Hen – Eileen Brown


Teacher’s resources: Handa’s Surprise  Handa’s Hen
Humanities and Social Sciences / F–6/7 HASS, Y4
Mathematics F, Y1
GC: Humanities and Social Sciences

For older students, these two simple videos could provide a springboard into  work on racial stereotyping and be paired and compared with maturer portrayals in works such as Pat Grant’s Blue (above).

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

This delightful rendition is read by the man himself. See Eric Carle, the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, reading this classic picture book out loud. An exclusive glimpse of this incredible book and author.

Perfect Square – Michael Hall

Perfect-Square-by-Michael-HallA deceptively simple story about a square that is perfectly happy with its four equal sides and four perfect corners. But then, on Monday, the square was cut into pieces and poked full of holes and on each successive day of the week it is subjected to further indignities. Each resulting in a creative rearrangement.  This is terrific story to introduce geometrical shapes, the days of the week and torn tissue collage art. It is also a wonderful story about resilience, adapting to change and thinking positively. The orchestral music accompanying this adds tension and excitement.

Creative Arts

Art’s Supplies – Chris Tougas

This animation of the very clever picture book of the same name, captures the jokes and puns of the various media – crayons, pencils paints and more – as they prepare for a party. Read and view as an entertaining story, to explore art mediums, to examine humour in a text and just for the fun of it.

La Linea Interactive – Patrick Boivin

A tribute to the popular Italian animated series La Linea, this is a great use of the choose-your-own format. It is also an excellent example of animated line drawings to tell a story.

Ink Story: Speed Painting – David Bayo

As the storyteller scribes and narrates his story, the artist, with ink and water provides a visual representation.

The Tiger and the Bird – David Bayo

Will the tiger catch the bird? A wordless story depicted in a series of ink renditions a hunt.