A unique publication by Tasmanian children is the highlight of this week’s post by Victoria Ryle. Find out about the project, the book’s launch and the affirmation these children received as published authors.
If anyone has read my previous blogs in this space, they will know by now that I am a passionate advocate for giving children a place at the table of authors – sometimes literally, as in the authors’ signing table! I am reflecting on the most recent book launch I attended, of the most recent publication that I have had a hand in. When I Wake Up I Smile: A book of WELLBEING by 156 children across Tasmania, was created as part of a community consultation with children to codesign Tasmania’s first ever whole-of-government Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy. It was launched just last month by the Tasmanian Premier, Peter Gutwein, alongside the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Leanne McLean, at New Town Primary School, one of seven schools involved in its production.
|Cover of When I Wake Up I Smile|
I would like to share a few special moments from this launch:
Firstly, the moment immediately after the young authors present were each handed their newly published book. The sight of a group of them, heads bowed over their copy, intensely reading, pouring through the pages, pointing at elements, nudging each other, making exclamations in recognition of particular words and images. How they completely ignored the adults standing around so focused on the task in hand – exploring THEIR book. At first quiet, before excited voices begin to chime out.
Secondly, the moment when the Premier, without speech notes, spoke with such respect directly to the assembled group of young authors, telling them about his first reading of the book, how moved he was by their words and pictures. He told them that it may just be the most important book he has ever read!
Thirdly, the moment when the Commissioner for Children and Young People congratulated the children on being published authors and pointed them to the signing table, inviting them to sign copies of the books for the VIPs, members of the press and other adults assembled.
The significance of these moments lay in the embodied responses of the young authors: their gestures, the expressions on their faces. No words were required to convey the affirmation they experienced in these moments.
|Pages from When I Wake Up I Smile. © The authors|
And that brings me to the main point of my post: being a published author offers up such special moments of affirmation for the child – from the tactile feeling of a newly printed book, to wearing the ‘hat ‘of a published author with all the accompanying ritual that surrounds book publication. As it happens, this particular book is all about wellbeing. As the back-cover blurb states: ‘This is a book by children, for children and adults. It gives an incredibly insightful and honest look from a Child’s perspective at what Tasmanian children want and need to be happy, healthy and secure and to have the very brightest futures Tasmania can offer them’. This validation of children as the experts on their own lives, reinforced through the launch celebration contributes significantly to a child’s sense of wellbeing and belonging in the world of books.
To conclude with the words of the Children’s Commissioner: “I am so proud of what the children have produced. It’s not just a ‘picture book’ – and a really beautiful one at that – it’s also an incredibly insightful and honest look from a child’s perspective at what Tasmanian children want and need to be happy, healthy and secure and to have the very brightest futures Tasmania can offer them.”
Read this book at your local library or you can view an electric version at https://www.childcomm.tas.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-When-I-Wake-Up-I-Smile.pdf
There is also an accompanying resource for teachers, carers and parents:
Victoria Ryle is a PhD candidate researching co-publishing books with children at the University of Tasmania https://www.publishingbookswithchildren.com/
She is also the co-founder of Kids’ Own Publishing https://kidsownpublishing.com/about/