KOALA at Birrong Girls High School

Teacher Librarian Victor Davidson relishes the opportunity that KOALA creates for getting his students involved in reading. He jumped right in last year, from nominations all the way to bringing a small crowd on the train to the Awards Day, and the girls responded with enthusiasm. How did they do it?

Birrong Girls High School participated in the KOALA program for the first time last year and it was an outstanding success. It suits our goal of engaging students in recreational reading to perfection.

While we run other reading programs, KOALA has proven to be the best way to expose students to peer endorsed literature and has empowered them to make choices. Moreover we appreciate the Australian focus and the opportunity for students to meet the authors and illustrators on the KOALA Short List.

We appreciated the website resources and the options available for nominating and voting. At Birrong we tailored the processes of nominating and voting to small groups. We are a low socio economic demographic and need to work hard to improve our literacy rates. KOALA provided the means for motivating students to engage and commit to literature.

The KOALA Awards day was one of the highlights of our year. The organisation was superb. We took 23 students to Newington College and each carried a book by one of the authors and illustrators for signing. Watching the students on the train intently reading their chosen author/illustrator was a peak experience for their Teacher Librarian!

By Victor Davidson

Birrong Girls High School


Nomination Time!

If you are reading this we know you are keen to encourage your students to read and enjoy Australian Children's Literature.

If you are a current or past member of KOALA then we hope you’ve had the opportunity to collect nominations from your students to contribute to the 2015 Shortlist. Not a member yet? Do the paperwork and get cracking!

The closing date for all nomination submissions is Thursday, 2nd April at 3pm. There is still time to nominate so please check the Nomination Kit for helpful tips and resources. Then fax or email your nomination tally sheet: fax 02 9327 9133 •email


Encouraging Nominations

In the photo above (right click and open in a new tab to examine more closely) you can see the Librarian has made a list of Australian authors to prompt memory or spur curiosity; a list of KOALA winners from the last ten years; nomination forms and a cute letterbox to post them. And there's a sweetener, too, in a prize draw for those who nominate. The artwork (by Sarah Davis in this case) is from the KOALA website. There's more in the Gallery.

Other Ideas

Introduce the students to the concept of KOALA – Kids Own Australian Literature Awards: it is their chance to say what THEY like to read. The Children’s Book Council Awards are selected by adults, KOALA is by kids for kids!

Look at previous KOALA winners and compare with CBCA winners.

Copy and decorate the Nomination Poster from the KOALA Kit for each classroom.

Set up a display of eligible Australian books and pop a nomination form in each one.

Discuss favourite Australian books with classes or groups of students.

Show students ways of identifying Australian books and authors.

Older students can read aloud extracts of favourite books to the class, write reviews, ‘booktalk’ their favourites titles.

Give teachers a bulk loan of Australian picture books to read to the class. Be sure to include some of last year’s new titles not just the old favourites.

REMEMBER Nominations must be for a specific title e.g. Selby Surfs not Selby books. It’s first past the post so every nomination counts!

Blasts from the past: A Powerful Way of Getting Reluctant Students Reading ; St. Philomena's Joins Koala


2014 Shortlist poster downloads

You can download pdfs of the shortlist posters:

Full Shortlist / Picture Books / Younger Readers / Older Readers / Year 7 to 9


Book Trailers - Year 7 to 9 Shortlist

Seven of the ten shortlisted books for the Year 7 to 9 award have book trailers. Here they are - plus a second imagined movie trailer for one of them. We kick off with that one! If you want to watch in a different order then use the Playlist dropdown at top left of the video.


Shortlist 2014 - Focus on Fiction for Older Readers


Our Older readers' Shortlist has plenty of colour - can you imagine the noise if all these characters got together? But there are a couple of mysterious types there as well. If you are a student up to Year 9 why not give us your opinion on one or two of these titles? Comment below or go to our contact page for email, Twitter or Facebook links.

THE 39-STOREY TREEHOUSE by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton

Andy and Terry's amazing treehouse has 13 new levels and a top secret 39th level that hasn't even been finished yet. A quick peek with Andy | Chapter 1

CON-NERD by Oliver Phommavanh

Connor’s mum wants him to work hard to be a doctor. But what Connor really wants to do is draw crazy cartoons and gruesome dragons that fly off the page. From Oliver | Review | Teachers' Notes

ERIC VALE, EPIC FAIL by Michael Gerard Bauer & Joe Bauer

Ever had a STUPID nickname? A rotten run of bad luck? A best friend who just looks on the bright side even when the bright side looks black? Well Eric Vale’s got all three, and they’re pushing him towards the EPIC-EST of all EPIC FAILS! Trailer | Review | Teacher Notes

MY LIFE AND OTHER STUFF I MADE UP by Tristan Bancks & Gus Gordon

This book is about a boy named Tom Weekly. He has kissed a dog, eaten Vegemite of his sister’s big toe, eaten 67 hotdogs in 10 minutes and much more. This book is full of Tom’s stories, jokes, cartoon characters, ideas for theme park rides and other stuff he has made up. Trailer | Review | Teacher Notes


Hal and the Heron brotherband are on the trail of Zavac and his precious cargo. Will they be able to find the pirates when the weather clears? And when they do, how can they possibly beat the mighty Raven and its crew of vicious cut-throats and killers? Review ! First Chapter 

THE IVORY ROSE by Belinda Murrell

Jemma has just landed her first job, babysitting Sammy. It's in Rosethorne, one of the famous witches' houses near where she lives. Sammy says the house is haunted by a sad little girl, but Jemma doesn't know what to believe. Review ! Teaching Notes 

WEIR-DO by Anh Do

Weir Do's the new kid in school. With an unforgettable name, a crazy family and some seriously weird habits, fitting in won't be easy - but it will be funny! Trailer ! Preview ! Review


A heart-warming tale about friendship, grief and the importance of baked goods. Set in a country town, in a school where the kids in Class 6A tell their stories. For new teacher Ms Arthur, it’s another world, but for Mr Korsky, the school groundskeeper, he’s seen it all before. Review ! Author Reflection ! Teacher Notes


After a senseless tragedy destroys his life, Will is obsessed with punishing those responsible - even if it means leaving the Ranger Corps. His worried friends must find a way to stop him taking such a dark path. 

It is Halt who suggests the solution: Will must take an apprentice. Series Trailer ! Review ! Preview


Specky has been selected to represent Australia in International Rules, taking on the Irish in a two-test competition in Ireland. Can the boys learn to play with a new set of rules and perfect their skills with the round ball before the Irish team wipes the field with them? Extract ! Review

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