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

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Anzac Day at the Gallipoli Peninsula

Carol Fuller shares her reflections on her experiences after visiting the Gallipoli Peninsula during the centenary commemorations.

What is the difference between celebration and commemoration? Quite a deal really if you think about it. 'Celebration' means a lot of jollity, happiness,’good time had by all'; the elements of a rousing party in honour of something good. 'Commemoration' is far more sombre and serious. It is about remembering, acknowledging, honouring and quietly contemplating what or who has gone before.

Did you celebrate or commemorate Anzac Day this year? I commemorated Anzac Day 2015 on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Standing at the top of The Nek, just behind the Sphinx, looking down the rugged terrain of Monash Valley seeing how impossible it must have been to walk up the cliffs, let alone carry packs, ammunition and weaponry, one could not possibly think of partying. The landing at Gallipoli was no picnic. This was a barbaric, futile endeavour, an almost criminal waste of time, money and above all thousands of lives: Australian, New Zealander, British, French, Indian and Turkish. If you were not aware of the other nationalities, you can be excused your ignorance since the stories we hear in Australia do not always give us the full or the true picture. The Turkish lost many more lives than the Anzacs, as did the British. Perhaps the plethora of books, documentaries, TV series and films have so extravagantly romanticised the notion of  the‘Anzac’ that we have overlooked the important elements of those eight months of hell, played out on the very tip of a wild and craggy coastline.

Standing in the Lone Pine Cemetery and seeing the ages inscribed on the head stones one can only despair at the number of young men, the age of today’s senior secondary students, whose lives were thrown away for no understandable reason.   

So how should we regard Anzac Day? What is it all about? Well it certainly is not a celebration. The Allies lost the Gallipoli campaign, thousands of young men lost their lives and losing has never been a cause for celebration. Therefore, Anzac Day is not about war or about winners and losers, it is about how individuals conducted themselves in extraordinary circumstances and the circumstances of the Gallipoli campaign were about the most extraordinary one could find. 

The Anzacs were asked to fight for another country, commanded by incompetent generals of another country, against an enemy who had never done Australia any harm. Signing up for this war was probably very naive but when reality emerged and the farce was revealed these young men became famous for the way they performed their duty rather than what they actually did or did not achieve.  

The enemy, Johnny Turk, also earned fame; not for winning the war in the long run but for how they, as a nation, honoured and respected their Anzac opponents. That respect is nowhere more apparent than in the beautifully manicured and Turkish maintained Allied cemeteries that spread across the Gallipoli Peninsula. One of the most poignant images you will see on the peninsula is the statue of a Turkish soldier carrying a slouch-hatted, Australian soldier. 

Anzac Day is also about how we, who remain, honour and remember the sacrifices made by not only the Anzac soldiers but also those young men and women who have fought in subsequent wars, such as: Korea, World War II, Vietnam, Iraq, Timor and Afghanistan. 

The CBCA Tasmania has a wonderful publication called Mud and Blood and Tears, an annotated list of children’s books about war and conflict. Individuals who still believe Anzac Day is a day for celebration would do well to read some of the excellent books listed therein.

The CBCA Tasmania thanks Carol Fuller for her contribution to the Blog. Please feel free to comment on this post.

Saturday 16 May 2015

Reading Aloud? - Yes Please!

The bedtime story routine in our house is the highlight of my day and is so important to my children, aged 7 and 9, that there are genuine tears of disappointment from my youngest if we ever need to skip story time! I have a very strong conviction in the importance of reading aloud to children and find it devastating to read of studies that show that in most cases once children hit the age of 7 or are able to “read by themselves” parents stop reading to them.

I have heard parents claim that their children don’t want to be read to anymore and I do understand this, but I feel that it is up to the adult to make changes to the read aloud experiences offered to keep the children interested and stimulated.  As brilliant children’s book blogger Megan Daley says, “reading to children should be about fun, the magic of story and the love of gorgeous books.”  Megan’s blog post Raising a Reader is well worth checking out particularly for her Top 10 Tips For Raising a Reader.

That said, families are busy, children are tired or glued to a device and time for reading together can be hard to find.

In my role as a K-6 teacher-librarian I frequently hear a good number of children, even those who are younger than 7, tell me that no-one at home reads with them.  This breaks my heart and drives me to provide rich and varied read aloud experiences within my library program.
I pride myself on choosing stories to share that are relevant to the curriculum and other aspects of day to day life for my students, and in sharing them in meaningful ways by using voice and gesture to effect, by creating stimulating displays that link with the read-aloud, by using props such as puppets where fitting, and by providing an engaging follow up activity that extends the story experience. However, is one voice, no matter how varied I can make it, enough?  Perhaps it is, but I choose to provide a wider range of listening experiences for my students.

In August 2013 I stumbled upon a test site for a new Australian website, devoted to sharing quality children’s literature.  I quickly fell in love and pledged my support to this crowd-funded start-up venture.  Since then Story Box Library has become a staple part of my library program, enabling me to share truly amazing read alouds with my students.  As stated on their website “Story Box Library provides a vibrant, interactive experience via a diverse range of everyday Australian storytellers - sportspeople, musicians, grandparents, teenagers, comedians, actors, with varying accents and from different cultures - each sharing past and present book titles. The result is meaningful, entertaining readings that focus on both teller and tale.”  I can fully endorse this statement as I see my students at school, and my children at home, totally absorbed with the Story Box Library offerings and always imploring me to “play it again”.

If you engage with children regularly – at home or at school – then I highly recommend that you consider a subscription to this wonderful platform.  With over seventy stories now available, and regular updates to the collection Story Box Library enriches the read aloud experience in homes and schools.

Reading aloud? – Yes please!  What are your best tips to keep families reading aloud and enjoying books together? 
Jessica Marston, Parent & Teacher Librarian, Hagley Farm School

Editor's note. If you would like some guidance on reading to your children visit the CBCA Tas website and the tab for Guides to Parents.
All images used with permission. 

Sunday 10 May 2015

In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words: A multimedia, interdisciplinary performance project created for the ANZAC Centenary. 
Performed 23-28 April 2015 in the Oratory Space at Dominic College.

Dominic College received both a Commonwealth and State Anzac Centenary Grant to research, write and produce this original youth theatre production based on the 281 names on our Glenorchy War Memorial. Dominic College was the only school in Tasmania to be a recipient of both grants which supported this unique integrated learning project for students involving Humanities, Dance, Drama, Media Studies, Visual Arts, Music and Applied Studies. 

The main focus was the Glenorchy War Memorial, showing the names of those who fought in the Great War. Students in Year 9 last year started their researching from these names. One of the prime aims was to find photographs of each of those people named, and many local families shared information and photographs supporting the research. LINC Tasmania developed a gateway to relevant resources in recognition of the centenary and was also a valuable source of information.

InTheir Own Words was an memorable recognition of the contribution, the danger, the happiness and the sadness of those who participated in the war effort all wrapped up into one outstanding performance. The commitment from the staff and students involved was exceptional and we will never drive past the Glenorchy War Memorial again without remembering the sacrifice of the ‘diggers.’

The re-creation of the ANZAC buffet was located in a separate space nearby. During interval all audience members were encouraged to partake of tea and scones. Staff and students provided this service and were joined by many members of the cast, who assisted with the hospitality in this authentic settingThe layout, stories, pictures and hospitality were perfect and helped take visitors through a time warp to the ANZAC days.

Chris Donnelly
Teacher Librarian, Dominic College

Editor's note. So often we focus on published works for children, it is heartening to read of students who can apply the rigours of historical research to recreate significant stories from the past.

Saturday 2 May 2015

May is not “Get Caught Reading Month”

If we were in USA, we’d be celebrating “Get CaughtReading” month. 

But we’re not.  Reading isn’t on many people’s radar at the moment. In 2012 we had the National Year of Reading quietly ongoing with the theme of Love2Read, but without funding it has lost momentum. Once upon a time, until the Federal government withdrew funding, there was the National Book Council (now defunct except in Tasmania where it has held 10 author talks each year since 1982).  Then there were a number of reading campaigns, the best known being Get Reading which used to run in August/September. Until the funds ran out.  Now there’s Better Reading but it doesn’t have funds to take authors and illustrators into remote and rural areas.
For young children and parents, there is the Little Big Book Club.  It celebrated its 10th birthday recently. And most importantly, there’s the Children Book Council of Australia which for 70 years has ”engaged the community with literature for young Australians”. Using donations of money and more importantly, thousands of hours/years of dedicated volunteer time, CBCA continues to present its annual “awards to books of literary merit, for outstanding contribution to Australian children's literature”. 

Sometimes, this reliance on donations saddens me and I wonder if it would be possible to become a “reading terrorist/extortionist” so I was intrigued to read Gabrielle Williams’ new novel, The Guy, The Girl, the Artist and his Ex (Allen & Unwin).  It’s based on an actual event – the Australian Cultural Terrorists who stole Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’ and held it for ransom demanding an increase in government funding for artists.  In typical Williams’ fashion, we have quirky/ flawed characters, a page-turning pace and deft touches of humour.  Well worth reading even if we don’t become “reading terrorists”... and for a germ of an idea – what can you do to trumpet the importance of reading?

Nella Pickup, Reader

Editor's note: If you know of any other current campaigns or programs that promote and celebrate children's literature  post a comment here on or our Facebook page.