Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2005), 89, (1), 267–268.


BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS This is the first in an occasional series of reviews of social and labour history books for younger people. We have chosen reviewers from the target audience. David Hollinsworth, They Took the Children, Working Title Press, Kingswood, SA, 2003. pp. 38. $11.77 paper. They Took the Children is an important book on a number of levels. As an educational tool and resource it is both comprehensive and engaging, in itself a major feat for the young enquiring (and often impatient) mind. How, where and how often it will be utilised is difficult to say, given the (parlous) state and faltering development of reconciliation; however it is reassuring to see a book like this. They Took the Children covers a lot of issues including the removal of indigenous children from their parents, dispossession and protection laws, fostering and adoptions, and issues raised in the Bringing Them Home Report. It also covers recent developments such as helping to reconnect the stolen generation, and Sorry Day (now known as the National Day of Healing). Crucially it succeeds in the difficult task of combining a very detailed account of these events in a very accessible way, both for educationalists and children. The following review is drawn from me reading this book to my nine-year-old daughter Ruth, as well as a response from her reading all of the chapters to herself. While this book will most likely be read by teachers to students, the following review helps to raise issues that come from the one receiving the information, as well as the one delivering it. Before Ruth does this I will briefly detail the book's format. The book includes various sections, including an introduction drawn from the experiences of three children Molly, 14, Gracie, 11, and Daisy, 8, on which the film Rabbit-Proof Fence was based. Subsequent sections include 'the first removals of children', 'dispossession', 'protection laws', 'taking the children away', 'down a hole' (including hiding places where families and children sought refuge from the authorities), 'in the children's homes', 'fostering and adoptions', 'getting the children back', 'bringing them home', 'sorry day and journey of healing'. The book also includes a time line from 1788-2000 and has numerous maps showing the settlements and institutions where children from the stolen generation grew up. There are also some really beautiful watercolours from students as part of Reconciliation and National Sorry Day 2000, generous archival photographs, letters and drawings from the period, as well as photographs and storyline from the film Rabbit-Proof Fence. From an adult's perspective, the book also provides really useful definitions of words like missions, reserves, and includes excerpts from the Bringing Them Home Report. Below are the direct thoughts of a child, of a similar age to that of Molly, Gracie and Daisy, reading and being read the book. The introduction was tempting and made you want to read more about what happened to aboriginal kids in Australia. The book explained things well, and I loved the way they've got younger people's pictures and opinions. There is lots of good information and interesting pictures. You get a really good idea of the story in your head just by reading the introduction. There are also great pictures and captions by children and 267

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Author details

Baker, Ruth

Van Den Broek, Diane

Table of Contents

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