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

Friday 20 May 2022

‘Decodable and Authentic’ – what does this actually mean?

An update to the Australian Curriculum (Version 9) has some interesting developments. Emma Nuttall provides a snapshot of one important addition that celebrates the value of quality literature to inspire young readers in their literacy development. 

‘read decodable and authentic texts using developing phonic knowledge, and monitor meaning using context and emerging grammatical knowledge’ (Australian Curriculum, version 9.0)

Is anyone else as excited as me about the inclusion of this content descriptor in the updated Australian Curriculum - English? This simple change in the Foundation and Year 1 curriculums has been greeted with great joy! Authenticity and accessibility in texts is fundamental to building strong literacy skills, as well as a passion for, and understanding of literature.

I’ve chatted here before about the gratitude that I feel towards authors for the wondrous and wonderful texts available. And I continue to be both amazed and impressed by the quality of texts available to be utilised to build both language comprehension and word recognition skills. 

As an educator, I get to ignite that passion for literature – I see that as an incredible opportunity that I feel most grateful for (I’m very grateful today, writing this, aren’t I?). Don’t get me wrong though, that opportunity also brings with it great challenge and responsibility. The responsibility of teaching a child to read is one that I take very seriously. The responsibility of enabling a child to experience the joys of reading is one that I take equally seriously. In order to do both, with our earliest of readers, we must provide them with exposure to rich, authentic and engaging texts that speak of wonder and sadness; mystery and joy; danger and excitement, as well as texts that children can access themselves from the beginning of their reading journey. And preferably, both.

What I have noticed recently is the availability of quality texts that are not only decodable and therefore accessible to our earliest readers, but also begin to introduce these concepts of awe and wonder in storytelling. We talk about decodable texts, as being texts that the reader can work out for themselves, using their knowledge of words and language. Now it remains obvious, that when the written text is independently accessible to a very early reader, it may not (and arguably can not) be as inspiring as books such as We Are Wolves (Katrina Nannestad, 2021 CBCA Book of the Year Awards Shortlist Book) or There’s No Such Thing (Heidi McKinnon, 2021 CBCA Book of the Year Awards Shortlist Book) due to the very nature of the literacy skills that our earliest readers have at the outset of their journey. 

But, fear not, we can provide these excitable young readers with both. Books that are decodable AND books that are authentic and engaging. And with this balance of provision, we will continue to see children that are as excited by their growing ability to access texts themselves, as they are about literature itself!

Emma Nuttall
Teacher, Literacy Coach, avid reader and parent of readers 

Friday 13 May 2022

Book Week 2022 - SUN Project for Student Voice & Choice

An exciting new Book of the Year (BOTY) activity is being offered throughout Australia in 2022. 18 Tasmanian Schools have been accepted to take part in the Shadow Judging of the Book of the Year Awards. This project is called the SUN Project and the ethos of the program is that Young Voices are Welcome Here.

In Term 1 schools were invited to submit Expressions of Interest to participate in the Shadow Judging Project. 11 Tasmanian schools are being funded as a result of the successful CBCA National application to the Federal Government RISE program, which supports the reactivation of the Arts sector. An additional seven schools are being funded by the Department of Education/Federal Government Book Week Grant currently operating through CBCA in Tasmania. There are 115 funded schools throughout Australia and there will be many more schools participating as Self Funded groups.

BOTY judges have in recent years judged only one category of the Awards. Similarly, schools have nominated the one shortlist category they wish to judge. There is no limit to the number of students participating in each school, but only one set of votes per school group can be submitted. Each school will receive a complimentary copy of each of the six titles in their chosen category. Students, guided by their in-school facilitator and supported by a CBCA Tas mentor, will judge the entries against the same criteria that CBCA Judges use, and complete the same process that CBCA BOTY Judges complete: 

  • read the title, 
  • assess it against the 8-10 criteria
  • rank the titles 
  • discuss the title with the other Shadow Judges in their team 
  • reach a consensus for the Winner and Honour titles
  • submit their results

These 18 schools will receive the login to a website of resources, funding towards a Creator visit, and a login to Storybox Library.

The CBCA BOTY Winners will be announced on Friday, August 19 at noon. The SUN Project BOTY Winners will be announced on Friday, August 26. The participating students will have the double excitement of seeing which books the BOTY judges have chosen in comparison to their choices; and then how their choices have fared, against the consensus of the other Shadow Judging groups.

It’s not too late for other schools to be involved as self funded applicants in this project. Please visit the CBCA SUN Project website for information and to apply. 

CBCA Tas Merchandise offer can be accessed from our webpage and applications for CBCA Tas Membership and information about membership benefits are also available on our webpage.

Felicity Sly

Prior to her current position as Teacher Librarian at Don College, Felicity Sly spent 25 years as a Teacher Librarian in primary schools situated on the West and North West Coasts; and is a 2022 CBCA Committee Member and Treasurer.

Friday 6 May 2022

Living the Dream

Excited to see conferences back on the 2022 agenda, Jennie spruiks the CBCA National Conference and a program to capture the imagination. You don’t need to dream if you attend!

The CBCA 14th National Conference is scheduled for June 10 to 12 – just a month away. The theme for Book Week and the conference, “Dreaming with your eyes open…”, is both enchanting and captivating – so many dreams can be realised through the pages of a book AND engagement with like-minded children’s literature enthusiasts. Have you looked at the program and considered attendance? 

Conferences have always been the icing on the cake in regard to professional growth. Traditionally these have been face-to-face events where attendees are immersed in a feverish buzz of excitement, provocations, affirmations and expanding horizons generated by the conference organisers, key notes, presenters, attendees and the trade – customised goods selected to entice us all to open our wallets (and slip out the credit card!) with opportunities to meet authors and illustrators and converse with the crème de la crème of our children’s literature creators and their publishers.

If you are ready to take flight and visit Australia’s capital then this conference has much to offer with a fantastic program and a stunning location – with an array of places to visit including many children’s literature related locations to feed the frenzy. However, if getting away is too hard, there is an alternative.

A positive outcome of a pandemic and lockdowns (Yes - they have prompted progress in professional learning) is that
a) most of us are now familiar with and comfortable connecting virtually and
b) organisations have lifted their game in offering quality virtual experiences that allow participants to connect from anywhere in the world and be part of the grand experience.
Admittedly virtual attendance does not generate the same buzz or hype generated during the social events, but it does provide access to the program! This conference offers a Live Stream Registration – a less expensive option with no added costs in regard to travel and accommodation and no major wardrobe and packing decisions to weigh you down!

“Dreaming with your eyes open…” offers a rich and varied array of speakers and discussion panels that explore the theme from many perspectives. Tasmanian presenters include Nicole Gill and Lian Tanner and they are well placed to explore the strong environmental theme that is threaded throughout the program and that has caught my interest. My curiosity has also been piqued by the session: ‘Opening up the big conversations through books’ with contemporary and important topics on neurodiversity, empathy and resilience and racism to be explored. Children’ literature again in the forefront of dealing with contemporary issues and concerns to connect and engage young (and older!) readers

Have a look at the program and consider your options if your curiosity has been provoked – you never know – I might ‘see’ you online or hear of your sojourn to the ACT after the event.

Jennie Bales

CBCA Tas Social Media Coordinator