Free Literature to Inspire and Inform
History | Health & Well Being | Science & Design |Mathematics | Creative Arts
English & Literature, Cross-Curriculum Priorities
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
- teacher librarian for 30+ years
- Charles Sturt University – Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) adjunct lecturer.
- CBCA Tasmania social media administrator
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
History – Australian (chronological)
The First Voyage of James Cook – Learningvids4kids
Video presenting James Cooks’ journey from England and the mapping of the eastern seaboard of Australia. Combination of current descriptive narration and animated journey with Cook and Banks as the leading characters. The character voices are not that clear, and aboriginal engagements minimal, but it does introduce the topic adequately.
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.
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)
Over the Top
Over the Top is an interactive adventure that allows you to experience the life in the trenches during the First World War. Presented by the Canadian War Museum.
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.
Life Then, Life Now
An online tutorial exploring and comparing past and present in the United States and focusing on developing inquiry skills. Loosely framed around a boy investigating an information book about the past.
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.
Pip | A Short Animated Film
Created by the Southern Guide Dogs. A heartwarming story of a small dog’s efforts to enter the Puppy Academy to trains as a blind dog. Pip is shows resilience and perseverance and also demonstrates the crucial role the dogs play to support those with vision impairment.
A short animated film that deals with living with a physical disability and the how the arrival of a three legged puppy changes a young boy’s outlook on life.
Ninnette: Thin is Never Thin Enough
Created by the Interactive Media Foundation, this interactive graphic novel explores adolescence, changing relationships with friends, becoming aware of boys, and dealing with body and emotional changes. Told from the perspective of Ninette, a fourteen-year-old girl and the insights of her two friends as she struggle to form an identity and feel comfortable with herself.
There are 11 episodes, sound effects, some animation and interaction with characters and arrows to progress through each chapter. It requires strong bandwidth.
Science & Design
If I Built a House – Chris Van Dusen
Jack 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.
The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires
A 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.
Rosie Revere, Engineer – Andrea Beatty & David Roberts
Rosie 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.
Told by Miss Nancy, written by William Kamkwamba
Living in a Malawi village stricken by drought, curious William researches in the library and then builds a windmill to bring electricity to his village.
Also connects to Geography and Sustainability.
Sticky is an original digital animated short film about the critically endangered Lord Howe Island Stick Insect.
Stop Disasters Game – United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
An online game simulating natural disaster events including a bushfire, tsunami, flood, earthquake and hurricane in different locations around the world. The aim is to minimise effects by planning and constructing a safer environment for communities at risk. Tips and facts are included to guide decision making. Also connects with studies of Earth and Space in Science.
Handa’s Surprise & Handa’s Hen – Eileen Brown
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
A 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.
Grandfather Tang’s Story
A beautifully visualised story using tangram pieces to support geometry. This rendition of the Chinese art of storytelling through shapes provides some challenging animal shapes for students to create. A picture book version of the story, by Ann Tompert, with pen and water colour illustrations provides possibilities for comparative media studies and connecting to Asian studies.
Infinity and me
A stunning multimodal interpretation of the picture Infinity and Me written by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska. this is a story of a young girl grappling with one of life’s big, abstract concepts.
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.