Well, here we are in the run up to Children's Book Week 2014, CBCA's premier celebration of the newest and best children's literature by Australian children's book creators. 'Connect to Reading' is a superb theme and led me to muse on how much my life has been enhanced by the fact that all my life I have been connected to reading and therefore connected to other readers. Book discussion groups have been a part of my life since the early 1980s, when I joined a group of young Launceston mothers who, like me, felt a desperate need to reconnect with the world of big ideas, far beyond the nursery and the classroom. I was a part of that group for twenty-five years and the basis of many of my enduring friendships are the shared memories of special books we read and discussed together. Moving to the far north to Darwin, then Alice Springs, and then nine years later back to Tasmania and on to Bruny Island, the first thing I did after each move was to find a new book discussion group, to connect myself to my new community and environment.
How about considering organising a parent/child book discussion group for your school or local library? This group would provide a time when parents and children could come together to share their thoughts about a book without the fear of being put down or the worry of their ideas being judged right or wrong. In a book discussion group children (and parents) learn to listen and are, in turn, listened to. Some of the best book discussion groups I have been involved with have had a wide age range across the group. Parents and children might welcome the opportunity to discuss issues and controversial topics that emerge from their reading and are otherwise hard to talk about. Under the guise of discussing characters in a book, parents and children might be able to express their true feelings about issues that are concerning them, too. What better way is there to connect a parent and child than by a shared love of reading?