Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Doing the Rounds With Carol (Books to Keep Kids Reading)

Carol, Michelle O'Byrne and Nella at the launch of the booklet

What can be better than spending time chatting with people about books? Well if those people are as book crazy as you are then there is twice the pleasure. My mission for the next three months or more is to visit every group of parents, teachers, librarians, grandparents, aunts and uncles I can find and talk with them about tips for choosing books that will inspire, interest and certainly keep kids reading.

With the launch of this much applauded little booklet, I have been inundated with emails and phone calls from people wanting me to visit their playgroups, schools and P&F meetings. So far I have requests stretching from Yolla in the far North West to Dover and Tasman Peninsula in the South with just about everywhere else in between. Thank goodness it’s the school holidays and I have a little respite before business resumes in earnest.

My first visit was to Gagebrook Primary school where I found a library which already has many of our recommended books on its shelves and a small group of parents fairly jumping out of their skins to talk, look at and understand the characteristics of a good kid’s book. I hope all my contacts are as positive and enjoyable as this one.

I have also been to a Family Day at the Dover Street Community House in Launceston’s Northern Suburbs where Neighbourhood House employees, parents and local teachers and carers had a great time browsing through a selection of our recommended books. What a scream to witness an enthusiastic adult reading aloud with lots of expression from Nick Bland’s The Wrong Book to an equally enthusiastic group of fellow workers ‘on the mat’. Yes, my mission is ultimately to get these adults reading to kids but first they have to be inspired by the material. And they were!

My next assignment is at Norwood primary where I am talking with a group of parents of pre- school children. The variety of groups is challenging because different aspects of a book have more or less significance according to the age of the readers upon whom we are focusing. Well if nothing else my sessions won’t be repetitious or over rehearsed because each one will be unique.

Fitting all these visits into a schedule that doesn’t involved driving up and down the highways of Tasmania is going to be tricky but if we can help people understand the facets of a book that make it more attractive, or more suitable to a particular level, age group or type of child reader it will be worth it.

I am also trying to work into this time table some discussions with people who might be interested in serving as CBCA reading judges. It is a surprisingly complex task to read and assess 400 samples of children’s literature spanning from 0 to 18 years of age. Most people will have expertise in some but not all of the skills areas involved. For example when I was a judge I was fairly confident about Younger and Older readers but relatively uneducated about Early Childhood and Picture Books compared to some of the other judges. And then there’s the different forms of writing I discovered during the process. I don’t mean the author’s styles but the different types of writing I had to do. Writing up my first impressions of a book was quite different to writing the annotated notes which have to be written for every book that shows potential shortlist possibilities. That is different again to the writing style for the blurbs about the winners, honour books and notables that eventually are published in the official CBCA booklets each year.

But that is the great aspect of the position. One learns so much and grows tremendously as an informed reader over the period of office. It is one of the most interesting, beneficial and rewarding jobs I have ever experienced despite the huge time commitment and the stress of deadlines and decision making. Not to mention the several hundred or so new books to which I was introduced and which now reside on my friends’, my grandson’s and my own book shelf.

I am also accumulated a fascinating collection of Peter Rabbit publications which serve to illustrate some of the fundamental points about what to look for when choosing an appropriate book for children. If you want to know how Peter Rabbit can do this then you will just have to organize a group of interested people or friends and contact me on carol.fuller@bigpond.com to come and have a discussion about kid’s books. Looking forward to meeting you.

- Carol Fuller


  1. Great work, Carol!

  2. It's a terrific little book, Carol, and great work by CBCA Tas to make it available. I picked one up in Fullers on a flying visit to Hobart recently and full expected to pay $10 for it. Astounded when I was told it was free. I did buy lots of other Tas stuff though :) Judi (WA)