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

Tuesday 28 May 2019

National Simultaneous Storytime at The Friends’ School

The National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) seems to gain momentum every year since its inception in 2001. Held annually by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) NSS is a key component of Library and Information Week. Public libraries and schools around Tasmania shared Matt Cosgrove’s hilarious Alpacas with Maracas to the delight of young and old. Many thanks to Katie Stanley for providing a snapshot of activities at The Friend’s School.

2019 was a bumper year for National Simultaneous Storytime at Friends’.  We participated from K-12, with readings, dramatisations, translations and other activities.

Our primary students worked in vertical groups and read the story, then were tasked with creating a new page for the book: a four-line verse describing a new talent show act with matching illustrations.
Primary school responses to Alpacas with Maracas

Teacher Librarian, Katie Stanley engages Year 7 with a

Year 7 students read the book and then worked in groups to research alpacas and maracas, extend the story, or rewrite it from a different point-of-view.  Of course, they did it all using rhyming couplets! 

Reading Alpacas with Maracas on kunany/Mount Wellington.

Laboratory Technician, Deb Chadwick reads
Alpacas with Maracas while walking.

Some of our Year 7s were out walking on kunanyi/Mount Wellington so they read the book up there!  

Even our Laboratory Technician, Deb, participated on her day off, reading it with her walking group.

Leo Oakley, dressed as an alpaca with maracas
with our High School display for
National Simultaneous Storytime and
Library and Information Week.

Our Year 11 Drama class performed the book, and language classes read it in Chinese, French, German and Japanese. Our principal also read the book to some very young students.

Great fun was had by all!

Katie Stanley
Teacher Librarian
The Friend’s School

Sunday 19 May 2019

Why you should meet your heroes

The Book Week Committee of CBCA Tasmania is currently administering a 3 year grant which focuses on different programs including the promotion of our talented Tasmanian authors and illustrators. These creators will be visiting primary and secondary schools throughout the state to conduct talks and workshops. This article by Karys McEwen discusses why school visits are important for students.
Karys is the library manager across both Prahran and Richmond High Schools in Melbourne, as well as the vice president of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (Victorian Branch) and the treasurer of the School Library Association of Victoria.

The following article was originally published in Books+Publishing, 19 March 2019

It is reproduced here with permission from the author and publisher.

In her first column for 2019, high school library manager Karys McEwen argues that young people have much to gain from interacting with authors in person—but authors need to be supported.
A few years ago I was contacted by an author who was interested in visiting my school library for free while promoting their latest book, an anthology of young adult stories. I jumped at the offer, especially since working at a public school meant there wasn’t much of a budget for visiting authors. The author brought along another writer friend who happened to be in town, and the two of them regaled the student book club with stories about their creative process, getting published, and making a career out of writing. The kids asked endless questions. Some of them also purchased the anthology and had it signed, while others borrowed it from the library—the reserve queue was at least a couple of students long for the rest of the year. For months afterwards they spoke about how great the visit was, and begged me to get more authors to come to school. The experience opened their eyes in a way that exceeded my expectations.
There are myriad opportunities for this type of engagement between authors and young people to take place: school visits, writers’ festivals, workshops, holiday programs, launches, storytimes at bookshops or libraries, and online connections too, through blogs or social media. The pay-off is invaluable in terms of introducing children to the possibilities of the creative industries, getting them to appreciate the art of storytelling, and hooking reluctant readers who are given a chance to better understand the stories they read by meeting the person that exists behind the words on the page. Since realising this, I have started taking my students to the local writers’ festival each year, and each year without fail, they leave feeling enthused and inspired. My favourite thing is to hear them chatting excitedly on the train home about everything they experienced during the day.
However, it is vital to recognise that from an author’s point of view, this side of their job is not necessarily the easiest. Many children’s authors in Australia and beyond rely on the extra income that school visits and festivals can generate, and the travel and type of work can take a toll. We need to ensure that authors are being paid appropriately and that services exist to support them in this task.
It is also important to understand that class and locality play a part in access to these types of activities—private schools often have more funds to pay for visiting authors, and children that live rurally are less likely to have festivals and events within a reasonable distance. It is not as simple as declaring that all young people should have the chance to meet authors. But there are ways around such obstacles.
Sometimes an author might be in a position to negotiate their fee for school visits, though this should never be expected. There are, however, events and workshops available for free, or at reduced prices for disadvantaged youth, such as the State Library of Victoria’s Story Camp or the slew of children’s events at this year’s Perth Writers Week. Online platforms like Goodreads and the recently relaunched Inside a Dog website allow young people to engage with authors and other readers online. Often young people just need showing that these opportunities exist.
Recently some of our English classes were undertaking a literature circles project, and a group of rowdy boys chose Brendan Lawley’s young adult novel Bonesland (Text). Although they were excited by how much they could relate to the themes in the book, they were all very reluctant readers and were having difficulty finding the motivation to read. I tweeted Brendan and asked if he would mind if they got in touch with him to chat through some things, and he kindly agreed. The boys were blown away by the fact that they were speaking to the author of the book they had to read for school, and every time I saw one of them in the hallway, they would excitedly update me on their most recent interaction. At the end of the project, the quietest boy of the group approached the library desk, thanked me for helping them get in touch with the author, and told me what a huge impact it had on his learning.
Engaging with a book is a powerful and crucial experience for every young person. However, the extra step of being able to meet or speak with the storytellers and creators themselves adds another element that can make all the difference. We need to continue providing the opportunities for authors to do just that.
McEwen, K. (2019). Why you should meet your heroes. In Booksandpublishing.com.au. Retrieved from https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2019/03/19/130065/karys-mcewen-why-you-should-meet-your-heroes/

Please Note: CBCA members get a discount for Books+Publishing (Australian and New Zealand book industry) subscriptions. To access this discount please contact tas@cbca.org.au for the discount details.