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

Saturday 16 December 2023

Welcome to #BookTok: Social Media and Cultures of Reading

The final offering to readers for 2023 is a compelling and thought-provoking post from Lyndon Riggall. Are you a BookTok user? 

Share a magic discovery or memorable find in the comments. 


Whether you love it, hate it (or perhaps have never even heard of it), it seems that the online community of BookTok is here to stay. For the uninitiated, BookTok is a subcategory of videos on the popular social media platform TikTok, a service where users upload short clips that their audiences scroll through in quick succession... a mix of elements of other social media and content platforms like Instagram and YouTube. If you have been into a library or bookshop recently, you will indefinitely see the influence of these influencers. In my own visits to local retailers in the past few weeks I have seen many stands of “BookTok Recommends” in the doorway, while Libraries Tasmania’s Libby App features an entire section titled “BookTok Made Me Read It!”

In general, most would argue that the existence of BookTok is a win for reading communities, representing what is ultimately a short form online book club that encourages people to read and discuss their reading with insight, depth and complexity. That said, the community is also inarguably powerful (and some would say too powerful). Videos tagged #BookTok have a total of more than 205 billion views, while in the recent Goodreads Choice Awards, the voraciously adored TikTok darling and New Adult Romantasy (two genre terms that BookTok has also been instrumental in adding to the industry’s lexicon) Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros, beat second-place-getter Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer ten-fold (397,565 votes to 33,665). Even the very serious literary event of the 2023 Booker Prize livestream was hosted by 25 year-old BookTok star Jack Edwards. It seems that there is clear recognition that even the most highbrow reading events still need a real audience, and the organisers know very well where that audience is.

On a personal level, I find the BookTok community’s tastes to be fairly in-synch with my own reading. They like a book that challenges as well as entertains… championing such stories to devour in one delicious sitting and then re-read as The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, and R.F. Kuang’s spectacularly  = complex yet gripping Babel. While Penguin Books Australia has a strong—and at times hilarious—presence on the app, one danger is that Australian authors and their work feel a little like they fall into the background. The BookTok community are fans of Aussie writers Lynette Noni, Trent Dalton, Pip Williams and Nagi Maehashi from RecipeTin Eats,

but more often than not their most popular reads are consistently authors of the same ilk as a majority of their audience, and they will trend towards American writers even on this side of the pond. BookTok has been accused of toxic cultures of attacking writers (a recent reversal of publication by Elizabeth Gilbert, who announced a new novel which was considered by many responders to be culturally inappropriate due to having Russian protagonists, springs to mind), vapid reading habits, glossing over problematic story elements, and even elitism (“Oh, you’ve only read one book this month? Sorry, but you’re not a reader.”) One thing’s for sure: this phenomenon is not benign. It is impacting reading cultures, and doing so right around the world.

I think most of us have come to accept that social media—for all its distractions—is here to stay, and it is likely to remain a huge part of our own lives and the lives of our children. I very rarely accept that people “don’t have time” to read, but in a world in which the demands on our attention are myriad and aggressive, if BookTok sends someone to reading as a result of its existence, it’s hard not to see that as a win. I feel hopeful. While some of the criticisms of it are more than fair, the reading community that is emerging online proves that books are far from dead… BookTok recommends are a very respectable gateway to creating a reading wheelhouse of one’s own, and if you were stuck for what to buy someone this Christmas, a quick check of their age and what is getting buzz on BookTok certainly isn’t a bad place to start.


What a beautiful thought, that in an ever-growing corner of the internet there are still those who not only love books, but also share their enthusiasm for them with glee. I just hope that in all the excitement and noise online we can still remember that the heart of a reader’s joy is the same and as simple as it always was: those quiet moments of forging a one-on-one relationship between a reader and a writer, with words, stories and the imagination in the middle.


Lyndon Riggall is a writer, reader, and English teacher from Launceston, Tasmania. You can find him on social media @lyndonriggall and online at www.lyndonriggall.com. 

Editor's note: What a great post to round off the year! I trust that the offerings this year have inspired your reading choices, encouraged you to cogitate, helped you appreciate the creativity and brilliance of our author and illustrator contributors and engaged your passion for children's literature.

Seasons greetings to you all! We will be back in 2024!


Friday 8 December 2023

Christmas Down Under

This week Loretta shares some delightful stories for young readers that explore Christmas themes from an Australian perspective.

Well, I can’t believe we are in December already and the count down to Christmas is on! Of course, my blog is about Christmas and this year I have shared my favourite Australian Christmas stories with you. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy safe new year. 

I’m ready for Christmas by Jedda Robbard, Penguin

Beautiful simple and short story about Christmas in a board book format. What I really love about this story is the strong focus on celebrating with family and reflecting on the year that has been. The story also describes an Australian Christmas experience. This is an adorable book for younger children at Christmas. 

The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas by Heath McKenzie, Walker Books

think what makes this book so good are the bright and funny illustrations that really tell the story of an adorable Australian version of the traditional song of “Twelve days of Christmas.” Children will love reading and seeing iconic Australian animals throughout this book – from wombats, Tassie Devils and flies!

An Aussie Night Before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison & Kilmeny Niland (illustrator), Scholastic

I absolutely love this story and I just love how Aussie Santa is in this tale! Sunburnt cheeks, broad rim hat, red shorts and thongs! Delivering his parcels in an old rusty Ute being pulled by kangaroos! Children will love this story and parents will get such joy from reading this out loud! I really feel this should be a Christmas staple in every Aussie house!   

All I Want for Christmas is Rain by Cori Brooke & Megan Forward (illustrator), New Frontier

Beautiful Christmas tale of a little girl living in a drought-stricken area of Australia. The illustrations are wonderful and the colours used have really be able to represent the climate and the lack of hope that is experienced with droughts. The story is a great way to share with children about the Australian outback.   


Loretta Brazendale

Secretary, CBCA Tasmania

Friday 1 December 2023

End of Year Celebrations, Reflections and Forward Planning

A timely post as the end of the school year draws close that highlights the varied and engaging experiences that school libraries and rich library programs afford our children. Input from students is an important component of these inspirational ideas shared by Anna Davidson, a teacher librarian at Hutchins School.


The end of the year is a time of celebration, reflection and forward planning.  The final library lessons of the year are no exception, with multiple opportunities for all three for both students and staff.


Each year, students are invited to present themselves with a Reading Award for the year. This idea was adapted from the work of the magnificent Pernille Ripp, and is such a rewarding experience for all involved.  The premise is simple; students reflect on their growth as a reader throughout the year, nominate an award for themselves and provide evidence for their choice.  The beauty of this experience is that the reading award is incredibly personal and caters for all readers.  Common reading awards include:

  • This year, I learnt to like reading more.
  • I found a new series that I’m really into.
  • I developed a regular reading routine at home.
  • I tried a new genre this year.
  • I finished all my Book Chat books this year.

Feel free to adapt our Reading Award template here.

As well as individual reading celebrations, students contribute to a collaborative Google Slides presentation, sharing their favourite reads of the year.  These are then displayed on the screens around the library, offering a great conversation starter about recommended reads and a launching pad for planning holiday reading.

As we all know, advocacy for school libraries is vital.  These celebratory opportunities help library staff to promote and advocate for the services we offer.  Another celebration tool used for advocacy is the end of year report.  Whilst library management systems can show all kinds of data, we use a simple poster to highlight the most popular titles, authors and series as well as celebrate the top borrowers and overall number of books borrowed in the year.

Reflection and Forward Planning

Alongside the end of year reading celebrations, students are invited to reflect on their library experience in 2023.  Questions include:

  • What do you like best about the library?
  • What do you wish we did more of in library lessons?
  • What do you wish we did less of in library lessons?
  • How can Miss Davidson be a better teacher for you?
  • What is one word you would use to describe your time in the library in 2023?

Student responses are then used to plan for the following year, building on the strengths and reflecting on areas to improve so that the student experience in the library can be enhanced.

Whilst it can be daunting to display your vulnerability as a teacher by asking students to provide feedback on the library, the program and your teaching, the results are often humbling and incredibly informative.  Students generally respond to this invitation in a very honest, yet respectful manner. Each year, it is particularly heartening to see that students value the variety of books in the library and want the opportunity for more reading time.

The end of a school year is always a chaotic time and it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture in amongst the rush of end-of-year concerts, chasing up overdue books and managing of tired students and teachers.  Despite all this busyness, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on what went well throughout the year, celebrate the successes and consider goals for 2024. 

Anna Davidson
Twitter - @davidsonteach
Junior School Teacher Librarian, avid reader (mad for Middle Grade Fiction), dog lover, yogi, nature lover, tea drinker