Have you ever noticed how patchy our familiarity with trends becomes as we grow older? Of course we are sentimentally attached to our own era of music, books and film; that is our own generational culture. We remember that era in detail, probably claiming that the current trends are rubbish and nowhere near as good as ‘when we were kids’!
If we have offspring we become quite well versed in that particular generation’s culture too, at least until the children become independent readers, thinkers and socialisers, then our knowledge goes into a black hole again. This appalling sense of being out of touch is very apparent when you attend the Trivia evenings which seem so popular with fund raisers now and the vital question is to identify a song or a book you have never even heard of.
If you eventually become a grandparent the cycle begins again with a different set of trendy stories, songs, films and TV programs. I was well versed in Noddy and Big Ears, Enid Blyton and ‘Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men’ from my own childhood. I learned to appreciate the Brambly Hedge series, Hairy MacClary, Bananas in Pyjamas and Narnia with my daughter and now have become an authority on Fireman Sam, all the Nick Bland books and the characters in Lightning McQueen and Despicable Me.
The point is, we all have these huge black holes in our cultural retinues because for most of us, unless we are full time students of youth culture, our busy lives don’t allow for more in depth or continuous knowledge.
As I repeatedly tried to emphasise to the trainee teachers in my lecture groups; one has to know and understand the ‘culture’ of the group of students with whom you are working if you truly want to relate to, bond with and therefore teach and inspire them. Now we all know that teachers are asked to do more and more within the curriculum every year, not to mention all the time taken up with testing and reporting against a million new criteria. So unless a teacher is super human or can exist on very few hours sleep a day, when does the dedicated teacher keep up with what quality reading material is available for her/his pupils? Once upon a time, and I use the fairy tale cliché deliberately, a classroom teacher could rely on the good old school librarian whose job it was to survey, sample and stock the school library shelves with the best and most appropriate current literature. The reality is that very few schools have the services of a full time school librarian now. Library aides are doing a fantastic job of filling that huge gap in professional knowledge and expertise but very often those stalwarts are only employed part time so once again time to keep up with the trends is difficult.
Even more so if you are a parent and want to share and guide your child’s development. Parents need to keep up with the latest and best quality trends in their child’s world. However, the reality is that probably very few modern parents have the luxury of time to browse the library or bookshop shelves researching the latest and best literature. How many of us abdicate the responsibility of guiding what our children read to their teachers, we hope, and as for viewing.... let’s hope the TV police keep things appropriate during peak kid’s viewing times!!
Well what does this have to do with being a member of CBCA?
If you are a teacher struggling to fit everything in and still have a personal life, or a school librarian/aide or a responsible parent wanting to give your children the best possible guidance and opportunity to develop, then this is where CBCA can assist.
It is CBCA’s objective to review, evaluate, advise and publicise information about quality children’s literature. CBCA doesn’t just organise the annual Book of the Year Awards which showcase the very best of Australian children’s literature.
In Tasmania CBCA publishes a newsletter full of current information on publications, literary events, authors and illustrators and associated literary topics.
For example if you live in Hobart:-
What are you doing for dinner on the Thursday 19th of September? Would you or your children like to dine with Michael Gerard Bauer, author of Don’t call me Ishmael, The Running Man, Dinosaur Knights and many other books for young people, and hear him speak about his work? CBCA Tas is hosting a dinner for Michael Gerard Bauer at Rydges Hotel (Corner Lewis and Argyle Street in North Hobart) with room for 25. The dinner will be 6.30 for 7 PM.
RSVP to Jessie Mahjouri firstname.lastname@example.org asap.
Besides publishing the free ‘Books to Keep Kids Reading’ booklet, CBCA Tas. has recently published a series of new pamphlets giving parents invaluable advice about the what and how of using books with children from babies to teenagers with IT and e books included.
CBCA National publishes ‘Reading Time’ which is full of reviews of current publications for children and young adults. If you don’t have the time to read and evaluate the books, let CBCA do it for you. CBCA is neither a publishing house nor a book-seller therefore parents, librarians and teachers can rely on the integrity of the information being given.
Through membership of CBCA, teachers and librarians have access to special publications of classroom materials, posters and promotional materials associated with the very best of the Book of the Year winners and notables. CBCA not only reads, reviews and recommends quality literature but also constructs lesson materials, saving educators valuable time and effort.
Need I say more about how valuable CBCA membership can be to parents, teachers, librarians and library aides. For more information go to the website www.cbcatas.org.au and see that for a very small annual subscription you can fill in some of those black holes in your familiarity with youth culture, at least the literary part.
PS. Teachers, encourage your Principal to sign up your school as an institutional member.