Tuesday, February 21, 2012

book talk: Playground compiled by Nadia Wheatley

I'm doing my small part for Culture today sharing this fantastic book compiled by Nadia Wheatley.

Playground is so beautifully put together, the artwork by leading Indigenous artists, photographs, and stories sit alongside each other in such a way that readers from age 2 to 102 will be touched by the truth and wisdom of Aboriginal culture.

In contrast to my post yesterday about modern living and the allure of television, the opening paragraph of Playground sums up how times have changed.

"In traditional time, kids didn't have to set off from home in the morning in order to go to school. The whole country was a vast outdoor classroom, which contained everything that the First Children needed to know. The land was also their playground." p.6

There are 18 chapters covering almost every aspect of traditional life. 'Playing in the water', 'Cubbies and toys', and 'Going fishing' are among my boys favorites. 

In the chapter ‘Playing in the water’ there’s a photograph of 7 young boys at a waterhole near Ramingining, Northern Territory, climbing out to the end of a tree branch to take it in turns to jump into the water. My boys love to look at this photo and hear the stories about how big kids looked after the little kids near the water and how the children were told scary stories of mythical creatures such as the  bunyip waiting in the water as way of keeping them close, preventing them from wandering too far and getting into danger.

The appeal of sharing Playground with young children is that you can dip in and out of the chapters. The personal accounts in each chapter are short and evocative. It is a book rich with insights for children and adults.

'Playground - listening to stories from country and from inside the heart' compiled by Nadia Wheatley, published by Allen & Unwin. RRP $39.99

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