Checklists for selecting quality texts for K-6

Use these checklists for selecting quality texts to respond to and create literature from Kindergarten to Year 6.


Central to the study of English in the NSW English syllabus is the study of a wide range of texts. NESA requires that in each year, students must study examples of spoken, print, visual, media, multimedia and digital texts.

Across a stage of learning, text selection must give students experience of:

  • texts which are widely regarded as quality literature
  • widely defined Australian literature, including texts that give insights into Aboriginal experiences in Australia
  • a wide range of literary texts from other countries and times, including poetry, drama scripts, prose fiction and picture books
  • texts written about intercultural experiences
  • texts that provide insights about the peoples and cultures of Asia
  • everyday and community texts
  • a wide range of factual texts that present information, issues and ideas
  • texts that include aspects of environmental and social sustainability
  • an appropriate range of digital texts, including film, media and multimedia.

From Kindergarten, we select texts for the purpose of:

  • learning to read (for example decodable texts) to facilitate literacy skills.
  • reading to learn in order to gain knowledge about audience, purpose, structures and language features.

Quality literature is the best example for this learning to occur. In the writing process, examples of quality literature are exemplars for students to create their own texts.

Quality literature allows students to respond to and explore the concepts that are at the core of the subject English and create their own quality texts.

Quality literature

Reading, viewing, responding to and composing quality literature should be an appealing and pleasing process providing students with an opportunity to develop an appreciation of the language, linguistics and artistic expression in the text. Responding to and creating quality literature should be enjoyable, challenging and allow students to develop a love of literature.

Quality literature:

  • is widely regarded (for example, award-winning or classics)
  • contains rich language
  • has powerful images
  • has characters and plot which are engaging and interesting for the students
  • enriches discussion
  • is complex with meanings on multiple levels
  • can be read and enjoyed more than once, exposing layers each time
  • allows the exploration of the literary devices which composers use to communicate, inform, persuade or entertain
  • can be examined for their conceptual textuality to develop deep, critical and new ways of thinking.

English textual concepts are embedded into the content and outcomes of the NSW syllabus, and integral to the study of the subject English.

English textual concepts

They are:

  • argument
  • authority
  • character
  • code and convention
  • context
  • genre
  • imagery, symbol and connotation
  • intertextuality
  • literary value
  • narrative
  • perspective
  • point of view
  • representation
  • style
  • theme

The definition of what each concept is and why it is important is explained in teacher and student user-friendly short videos.

To design learning for a deep understanding of the textual concepts, teachers need to select quality texts which support the study of these concepts. With some quality texts, there may be standout textual elements that are identifiable with a specific concept. However, many quality texts lend themselves to a range of conceptual understanding

Further information



Using the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers as a framework, consider:

Know your students and how they learn

  • What is the context (students’ backgrounds and needs)?
  • What do the students already know about the textual concept/s?
  • What do they need to learn next?
  • What are their needs when responding to quality literature? When composing?

Know the content and how to teach it

  • Is your understanding of the English textual concepts sufficient to enhance the learning outcomes of students? Find information and resources on the English Textual Concepts website.
  • Will the text enhance the students’ abilities to achieve desired outcomes?

Plan for and implement effective teaching practice

Starting – Begin with knowing which English textual concept/s you are exploring then select specific text/s which align with the concept/s.

Teacher delivery options:

  • Could the text be used as a mentor text for student writing?
  • Will the entire text be used or a chapter/page/paragraph/sentence/scene?
  • Will the text be read by the teacher/students/both?

Teaching strategies:

  • Are you modelling reading (aloud) widely and often?
  • Are the students reading/viewing/listening widely and often?

The selling point – if you read, discuss and explore quality texts you are passionate about, your passion will come through in your delivery. This will transfer to the students which will deepen their engagement.

Further reading and checklists


References and research

  • AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) (2017). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, accessed 3 May 2021
  • Dixon M. (2016) ‘Preparing to work with textual concepts in K-6 English’, Scan 35 (3) 10-21, accessed 31 July 2016
  • ETA English Teachers Association and NSW Department of Education (2016) English Textual Concepts, accessed 3 May 2021
  • NESA (NSW Government Education Standards Authority) (2021) Content and text requirements accessed 3 May 2021
  • Serafini F and Moses L (2014) ‘The roles of children’s literature in the primary grades’, The Reading teacher 67 (6): 465–468
  • Thomson C (2016) ‘Text selection’, Scan 35 (3) 5-8, accessed 31 July 2016

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