Words to unite us

This unit of work, Words to unite us, allows students to explore the complex theme of a common humanity, using the picture story books Whoever You Are, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Leslie Staub, Mirror by Jeannie Baker, and The Little Refugee by Anh Do and Suzanne Do and illustrated by Bruce Whatley.

Whoever You Are shows that despite the differences between people around the world, there are similarities that unite us, such as pain, joy and love. Mirror, with two parts designed to be read simultaneously, shows that despite differences families are essentially the same. The Little Refugee tells of Anh Do’s family’s escape from Vietnam and his life as a child in Australia. The story speaks of hope, resilience, friendship, love and enterprise.

Cover art for Mirror by Keanie Baker reproduced with the permissin of Walker Books

Above: Mirror cover reproduced with the permission of Walker Books

Australian curriculum links

The general capabilities emphasised in Words to unite us are literacy, information and communication technology (ICT) capability, critical and creative thinking, ethical behaviour and intercultural understanding.

See how this unit relates to Australian Curriculum: English content descriptions and NSW Syllabus outcomes.


This unit provides opportunities to explore the ideas that:

  • people are precious and unique
  • people come from different nations with different ethnicity, cultures, beliefs and languages
  • despite differences in our lives we are all essentially the same
  • all humanity is connected and it is this interconnectedness that is our common humanity
  • people have a responsibility to each other that flows from this connection and this responsibility includes caring for the vulnerable people among us
  • refugees in Australia are vulnerable people who face many challenges settling into Australian society
  • people experience adversity and set-backs in life but having a belief in a good outcome, having hope and being resilient and resourceful, sustains and encourages us in our endeavours.

Teaching and learning activities

  1. Introduce the unit with children from four countries
  2. Activities for Whoever You Are
  3. Activities for Mirror
  4. Activities for The Little Refugee

For the teacher

Crossing Borders: African refugees, teachers and schools clarifies educational issues that might be usefully applied to refugee students from other parts of the world.

Use World Vision Get Connected, Issue 8 — Migration; People on the move and access the school resources website. Walker Books has a Classroom Ideas kit (.pdf 565 KB) with teaching ideas for Mirror. Allen & Unwin have excellent teaching ideas (.pdf 318 kB) for The Little Refugee, and teachers may wish to watch Anh Do speaking about his journey from Vietnam.

Note that print downloads do not include updates applied online, including curriculum changes over time and should be used with caution:    .doc 16.6 MB    |    .pdf 1 MB    |   Copyright