Authors have used the beauty, harshness and problems of our land to tell their stories, often basing their stories in familiar locations and using their reaction to a particular environment as the central theme. Animal stories all rely on the environment in which they are set, and basically fall into three areas:

  • educational, life-cycle nature studies disguised as a story
  • indirect explorations of reality via talking animals
  • investigations of human–animal relations.


The world of animals is as mysterious to us as it is intriguing; we often wonder what animals get up to when we’re not around. Ask students to think about their favourite animal (you could use a theme, such as an Australian land animal, sea animal or bird). Have students research the animal, its habitat, its behaviours and other characteristics, then ask them to develop a fictional story around that animal.

Some questions to prompt stories might include:

  • What does the animal do when there are no people around?
  • What might this animal be talking about with others of its kind?
  • How does it interact with other species?
  • What problems might face that animal and how might that animal find ways to resolve them? Can humans help?