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

Friday 4 August 2023

Reading Pictures – Drawing Words: A Database of Picture Books for Older Readers

The National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature (NCACL) now has a fabulous new database available as valuable resource for schools, communities and families. The ‘Picture Books for Older Readers’ database sits alongside the ‘Cultural Diversity’ and ‘Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander’ databases as a go-to resource for accessing quality Australian literature.

Why picture books?

As many of us know, picture books are not just for younger readers. Readers of all ages can appreciate the many layers on offer in the picture book format. In fact, in a recent SLAV webinar focusing on picture books for older readers, well-known picture book creator, Tohby Riddle, stressed the importance of seeing the picture book as a format, not a literary style designed for a particular age range. Tohby spoke of the importance of creating many layers to be interpreted differently by a variety of age groups, providing an opportunity to share the different experiences of readers.

An entry in the NCACL database

If you are anything like me and have ever had to justify the use of picture books in an upper primary or secondary classroom, I’m sure some of the following reasons, gathered from the NCACL database resources, resonate with you:

  • assist in developing multi-literacy and visual literacy
  • analyse artistic techniques and styles as well as book design and layout
  • study literary devices and intertextual references aimed at older readers
  • attract reluctant readers, EAL/D students and those with language difficulties
  • examine sensitive topics including death, war, violence and societal issues
  • provide useful tools for introducing thematic units of learning

How do you define ‘older reader’?

There can be some discrepancy between what is considered a picture book for older readers, with the definition of ‘older reader’ being interpreted differently. In our school library, which caters for Pre-Kindergarten to Year 8, we classify picture books for older readers as being Year 5 and up, housing this collection in a separate area to our picture books for all ages and using a Year 5+ spine label. Regardless of how you define the term, ‘older reader’, adults should always preview a book before using it with their students. The detailed notes accompanying each book on the database should help adults make decisions about the appropriateness and relevance of each book to each cohort of students.

Search options in the database

What to expect on the database

The Picture Books for Older Readers database showcases 251 high quality Australian picture books that can be viewed by jacket cover or in a list format. The Advanced Filter Options provides a range of search criteria to help you find the right book to suit your need. Be sure to click ‘search more’ for further search options. Of particular note is the ‘Select Subject’ list to help you narrow your search.

Once you have selected a title, there is a wealth of information about each book, including subjects covered, an annotation to get a better feel for the book and a list of accompanying teaching resources.

Search result for Paradise Sands (Penfold, 2022) with curriculum links
Note drop down links to for subjects, annotation and resources

One of the best things about this database is that it is AUSTRALIAN!  How many times have you searched for picture books on specific topics, only to discover (usually) American resources, which are not entirely relevant to the Australian context and/or are incredibly expensive to order. The NCACL are providing us with a fabulous and free (although donations are always welcome!) resource that you can be assured is relevant to our Australian context.

Access resources via the
database's introductory page

The new NCACL database also offers a wealth of resources to accompany the new database, including:

  • A guide to the database
  • A flyer to promote picture books for older readers
  • A bibliography of useful resources

The database is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in children’s literacy. Use it to recommend and promote books; link it to LibGuides for teachers and students to explore; share it with families to support reading and promote picture books in the home setting. The database is a one-stop-shop for selecting engaging, relevant Australian picture books to engage older readers.

Anna Davidson
Junior Teacher Librarian, Hutchins School

Twitter - @davidsonteach

(avid reader (mad for Middle Grade Fiction), dog lover, yogi, nature lover, tea drinker)

1 comment:

  1. CBCA Tasmania personal membership forms have information about donating to NCACL when paying membership. Funds are then forwarded in your name. Or the direct deposit transfer details are also on the form. Donations over $2 are tax deductible.