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

Friday 22 March 2024

Happy International Children’s Book Day

With International Children’s Book Day fast approaching discover more about this special day and a fascinating display of books at Libraries Tasmania Launceston. 


Since 1967, the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY) has celebrated Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, 2 April, as International Children's Book Day (ICBD). Celebration aims to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books.

This year’s ICBD poster, sponsored by IBBY Japan, is a collaboration between writer Eiko Kadono and artist Nani Furiya. The theme is "Cross the Seas on the Wings of Imagination”. Download the poster and flyer to promote this special day.

Locally, Friends of the Library Launceston members, have joined IBBY to hold displays of treasured children’s books (including one from 1896), a selection of Libraries Tasmania’s collection of books by Tasmanian children’s authors and three Silent Books. 

What are Silent Books?

In 2012, when waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East started arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa, IBBY launched the project “Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back”. The project involved creating the first library on Lampedusa to be used by local and immigrant children. 

The second part of the project created a collection of silent books (wordless picture books) that could be understood and enjoyed by children regardless of language. These books were collected from IBBY National Sections. There are, to date, six collections of Silent Books — you can find them at https://www.ibby.org/awards-activities/activities/silent-books

Each collection has a few Honour Books which are highly recommended. Honoured Australian titles are:

  • Shaun Tan, The Arrival Lothian 2006 
  • Gregory Rogers, The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard and Other Dramatic Tales, Allen & Unwin, 2015 
  • Freya Blackwood, The Boy and the Elephant, HarperCollins, Sydney 2021

The display at Launceston Library will continue until 11 April. The Silent Books will join a concurrent display hosted at Ravenswood Library until May. 

Nella Pickup

CBCA Tasmania Life Member 

IBBY Australia Executive Committee Member

Friends of the Library Launceston (FOLL) member

Saturday 16 March 2024

Reading Role Models

With Tasmania Reads week starting today, this timely post from Anna Davidson explores the importance of creating a reading culture in the school and the critical role adults have in modelling, and supporting students to model, engaged reading practices. Full of practical ideas for schools, as well as food for thought for home reading.

Many readers of this blog will be familiar with the wonderful work of Margaret Merga, school library research champion who does so much to advocate for the work of school libraries.

Margaret’s latest offering, Creating a Reading Culture in Primary and Secondary Schools: A Practical Guide, is an absolute treasure. As I read it over the summer, I found it to be a very affirming read; it contains many great ideas that lots of us are already implementing in our library spaces. However, one of the best elements of Merga’s book is the bite-size gems of research that can be used to introduce staff and students to new initiatives.

Inspired by Merga’s latest offering, in 2024 our library will be focusing on the theme, ‘Reading Role Models’. The library team met at the start of the year to brainstorm ideas, big and small, for engaging the whole community in reading. Throughout the year, we will choose a couple of ‘big ticket’ ideas as well as trying out as many low effort-high impact ideas as possible. For this post, I will share two of our focus points and the associated actions.

Leaders are Readers

One initiative we have launched, but is yet to be in full swing, is working with the Year 5 students using the catchphrase, ‘Leaders are Readers’. 

Across the year, Year 5 leaders will be involved in leadership roles such as:

  • Promoting books during morning assemblies (currently, Year 5 students are engaged in writing 30s elevator pitches for their favourite books)
  • Acting as Book Chat Mentors for Year 3 students, sharing Book Chat tips and tricks as well as leading discussions
  • Running Story Time in the Bush sessions for our upcoming Tasmania Reads celebrations
  • Leading younger students through the fabulous Story Walks at Margate and Snug.

Over time, we also hope to engage the Year 12 leaders and staff leaders in this initiative.

Engaging Staff in Reading

Merga emphasises the importance of teacher engagement in developing a positive reading culture, sharing this research gem …

Before teachers can intrinsically motivate their students to become avid readers, they need to, themselves, experience reading enjoyment’ (Tovey, 2022, p. 286, in Merga, 2023, p. 45)

However, we all know how stretched classroom teachers are with an overcrowded curriculum and increased individual learning needs in their classrooms. A key role of school library staff is to support classroom teachers to engage in reading, both with their students and on a more personal level. 

Class Read Alouds

A goal for us this year was to have every class reading a class novel. The Merga gem we used to introduce this was this mind-blowing statistic …

Research in the UK involved 20 English teachers reading ‘two whole challenging novels at a faster pace than usual in 12 weeks with their average and poorer readers ages 12-13.’ Students ‘made 8.5 months mean progress on standardised tests of reading comprehension, but poorer readers made a surprising 16 months progress’, leading the authors to conclude that ‘simply reading challenging, complex novels aloud and at a fast pace in each lesson repositioned “poorer readers” as “good” readers, giving them a more engaged uninterrupted reading experience over a sustained period.’ (Westbrook et al., 2019, p. 60, in Merga, 2023, p. 61).

The library staff provided ideas for great (contemporary, not a classic that children may have already been exposed to) class read alouds, created an ‘Our Class is Reading …’ poster, stuck them up outside each classroom and waited to see what happened. This is what you now see as you walk around the school hallways.

Encouraging Staff to Read for their own Pleasure – Book Clubs, Silent Reading Parties and Staffroom Libraries

We also encourage staff to make time to read. Ron Ritchhart says that if we want schools to be cultures of thinking for students, they must also be cultures of thinking for staff. The same is true for reading. If we want staff to engage in reading, therefore being positive reading role models for students, we need to make reading easy, accessible and celebrated. You may have seen this fabulous article over the summer holidays, Reading fiction may have more benefits than you realise, particularly in the workplace, which helps progress our cause.

Our staff book club is going strong after its initial inception during the 2023 Tasmania Reads celebrations. We meet twice a term, with no set book, just a theme that people can choose to stick to or not. A lovely and unexpected outcome of this initiative is the conversations it has led to; students now see staff chatting about what they are reading and swapping books in the hallway, which further adds to the creation of a positive reading community.

Our upcoming Tasmania Reads celebrations will also see the implementation of two new initiatives to get staff reading; an after school staff silent reading party in the library (drinks and nibbles provided!) and the installation of a ‘little library’ in the staffroom, making reading more accessible for time-poor teachers.

What ideas do you have for engaging school staff in reading?

Anna Davidson
Teacher Librarian - Junior School
The Hutchins School

Friday 8 March 2024

Celebrate Tasmania Reads Week, 17 – 23 March 2024

Have you got a pile of ‘to read’ or ‘to read aloud’ books in your home or classroom?  Get ready to tackle them as part of Tasmania Reads Week and get involved via Libraries Tasmania. Let’s celebrate reading!

Try something new this Tasmania Reads Week,
from 17 to 23 March.

Tasmania Reads Week is a celebration of all things reading, curated by Libraries Tasmania, and supported by local partners, including booksellers, the Tasmania JackJumpers, Metro Tasmania and the University of Tasmania. 

During Tasmania Reads Week, Libraries Tasmania are helping all Tasmanians to be excited about reading. With over fifty events around the state, there is something for everyone. You can explore the full program, featuring Book Chats, author talks, and readings, by visiting our Tasmania Reads website.

Why celebrate reading? 

  • Reading for pleasure offers a range of benefits, including better education outcomes, improved quality of life, and better health and wellbeing.

  • Currently, only fifty percent of Tasmanian adults have functional literacy. We want to see that number increase by supporting children’s literacy and celebrating reading for all ages.

  • Reading can be social! People are more likely to read, and to experience the benefits associated with reading, if they read socially, choose their own reading material, and read for fun. Join a Book Chat through your local library and share book recommendations, favourite stories, and other bookish business.

Get involved

To get involved in Tasmania Reads Week 2024 you can: 

  • attend a Tasmania Reads event 
  • visit your local library
  • read something new 
  • gather some friends for a Book Chat and talk about your favourite books
  • share a social media post about your favourite reading place using the hashtags #TasmaniaReads and #WhereDoYouRead.

If you are a teacher, we have special activity resources just for you – email us at tasmania.reads@libraries.tas.gov.au for more information!

Keep an eye out for Tasmania Reads celebrations happening in your community and Try something new with reading this March!


Lily Fletcher Stojcevski
Reporting and Policy Officer, Libraries Tasmania

W: https://libraries.tas.gov.au/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/LibrariesTasmania/ 

Editor’s note:
What a wonderful prompt to get reading! I plan to get immersed in some of the titles on 2024 CBCA Notable list and to attend at least one of the events on offer. 

Saturday 2 March 2024

Reading is Magic - CBCA Book of the Year Awards: Notables 2024

The announcement of the CBCA Notables kicks off the excitement generated each year in the build up towards Book Week and the awards announcements later in the year. Maureen Mann shares some insights into the awards and the importance of the work of the Judges in celebrating quality titles drawn from their extensive reading and deliberations. Maureen has identified some personal favourites – can you suggest others?

Did you watch the announcement of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards: Notables on Tuesday evening? 

The Notables list each year brings together the best children’s books published in Australia, according to the judges of that year. Each of the judges has read all the titles submitted to the CBCA Book of the Year Awards in their specific category. This gives them a wonderful overview of the year’s creations, an overview that no one else has. 


There are 5 categories announced in the CBCA Notable Books list. 

1. Book of the Year Older Readers. 

2. Book of the Year Younger Readers. 

3. Book of the Year Early Childhood. 

4. Book of the Year Picture Book. 

5. Book of the Year Eve Pownall (information books).  

The sixth category, CBCA Award for New Illustrator features in the Book of the Year Awards Shortlist announcement.


Why is it so important to see these lists? Notable Australian Children’s Books gives prominence and recognition to those entries for the Book of the Year Awards which display commendable standards in the criteria set down for the Awards. The list has been published every year since 1992. 


Publishing this long list gives authors and illustrators, as well as publishers, recognition for achieving a high standard as recognised by the judges. Because the list contains all commendable books, it includes all those books which will be listed on the Short List which is to be published Tuesday 19th March, 2024. The Notables list gives us, the reading public, the opportunity to focus beyond the books which are shortlisted.  This year’s list has 118 titles on it. 


I was surprised by what has been included on the list, because there are so many which I hadn’t heard of. And that stresses the list’s importance of showcasing our wonderful Australian children’s books.    

Here are a few of my favourites.


Stay for Dinner by Michelle Pereira and Sandhya Parappukkaran. (Hardie Grant, Picture Book).

This is a wonderful celebration of Australia’s cultural diversity as we see what foods 4 families serve for their main meal and how its presented and served. Reshma is surprised when she visits her friends and is needlessly nervous of their reactions when they come to her place.  


Where Will the Sleepy Sheep Sleep? by David Metzenthen and Jonathan Bentley. (Allen & Unwin, Early Childhood).

It’s a book full of tongue-twisters and quirky illustrations as the reader decides whether the current location is a suitable place to sleep. Baaah! No-o-o. Not here. Little ones will enjoy sharing the refrain.


The Power of Being Odd
by Matt Stanton. (Harper Collins, Younger Readers). 

This graphic novel surprises me because I like it so much. We see Kip and her friends explore her Imaginatorium. Going in is easy. Getting out is more of a challenge. 


How We Came to Be: Creatures of Camouflage and Mimicry by Sami Bayly. (Hachette Australia, Eve Pownall). 

This is a great book for curious readers who love nature and animals. Bayly’s illustrations are detailed and accurate, reflecting her interest in the weird and wonderful plants and animals which co-habit our world. 


If you want more information you can read the judges’ comments for all books listed. You’ll find it here Notable Australian Children's Books 2024, critiques for all 2024 Notable titles


Here is a link for the total list. Book of the Year Award Notables, complete list. Individual lists, with covers, are available:  https://cbca.org.au/notables-2024   


Happy exploring of the Notables lists. 


Maureen Mann

Retired teacher librarian and avid reader



Editor’s note: There are some great choices above – at this point Where Will the Sleepy Sheep Sleep? is one of my favourites. If you are interested in young adult readers then three titles on the Notable list that I have really enjoyed in audiobook format are: 

Isles of the Gods by Amie Kaufman. (Allen & Unwin, Older Readers)

This Time it’s Real by Ann Liang. (Penguin, Older Readers)

Eleanor Jones is Not a Murderer by Amy Doak. (Penguin, Older Readers)