Well, you get what I mean, don't you? C'mon then...if you don't know what I mean, it's obviously been way too long since you've read a picture book!!
I recently had the privilege of attending a Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) event, along with many other children's book lovers, so I'm not loony after all... heaps of other clever adults love picture books!
Anyway, it was the CBCA “anticipate, appreciate, applaud” event, where the 2014 list of Notable Books and the Short List for the 2014 Children’s Book of the Year Awards were announced.
What did I do there?
- Mingled with authors, illustrators, publishers, other teachers, teacher-librarians, and fellow book-lovers.
- “Anticipated” the Short List with a panel of experts who shared their personal choices before the announcement.
- “Appreciated” the wonderful array of Australian children’s literature.
- “Applauded” the authors and illustrators whose books have been chosen for the 2014 Notable Book List and the Short List.
The CBCA Shortlist:
The complete lists can be found at cbca.org.au/ShortList-2014, but I was particularly chuffed when two of my current favourites made the list…
The first is in the Early Childhood category...
This is a book I recently bought as a gift for a baby shower. It’s a sweet poem/lullaby celebrating a baby's wonder at our amazing world. Who doesn't love Alison Lester?!
The second is in the Picture Book category…
This is one of the books I chose to teach in the Literacy Unit I wrote for Term 1. It’s a haunting, but beautiful tale of the power of words, the importance of stories and the resilience of the human spirit. It’s a celebration of things that can’t be destroyed by bombs or fire. Although it is about war, my young students thoroughly enjoyed it, which goes to show that kids can handle more serious themes.
I was very excited that my choice of text was worthy of the Short List :) Not surprising, considering how amazing Margaret Wild is!
What else did I learn?
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” C.S. Lewis
- It’s all about EMOTION!
Important question: Do the words and the pictures (where relevant) evoke an emotional response in the reader?
- There is such beauty in words!
- In picture books, every element of text and pictures should work together to enhance the emotion in a story.
|Illustration by Tony Flowers, which he cleverly created on the day|
- "To fully appreciate a story, we should read with our heart first"…this is a great lesson to teach our kids, from the amazing Mem Fox.
Unveiling of 2014 Book Week theme – “Connect to Reading / Reading to Connect”:
- Book Week dates: 16-22 August 2014
- “Connect to Reading/Reading to Connect” - I think the theme of Book Week this year is very exciting… encouraging connections between:
Quality literature to support the new Australian Curriculum:
- Australian Curriculum definition of literature...
“The Literature strand aims to engage students in the study of literary texts of personal, cultural, social and aesthetic value. These texts include some that are recognised as having enduring social and artistic value and some that attract contemporary attention. Texts are chosen because they are judged to have potential for enriching the lives of students, expanding the scope of their experience, and because they represent effective and interesting features of form and style. Learning to appreciate literary texts and to create their own literary texts enriches students’ understanding of human experiences and the capacity for language to deepen those experiences. It builds students’ knowledge about how language can be used for aesthetic ends, to create particular emotional, intellectual or philosophical effects.”
- The NSW Syllabus definition, which is not as joyful...
“In this syllabus, the study of a wide range of texts is central to the study of English. This includes the study of texts which are widely regarded as quality literature, providing students with the opportunity for aesthetic experience and to develop an appreciation of the artistic expression found in texts.In the primary years of schooling, the study of text types, as part of a broader study of texts, is intended to facilitate student literacy skills and help to establish knowledge about the purpose and audience, structures and language features of a broader range of texts.”
- What Gail Erskine (President CBCA NSW Branch) thinks:
“When teachers are looking at selecting books, we need to see if quality literature will fit into the relevant categories/cross-curriculum priorities of the syllabus; not just buy any book that will fit into that category. Let’s choose quality that will inspire children to understand why these priorities are important.”
The 3 cross-curriculum priorities are as follows:
–Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
–Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia
“The new curriculum also looks at developing General Capabilities. And literature is just amazing because we can tick off every single one of these general capabilities by reading a quality children’s book.”
The General Capabilities in Literacy are as follows:
“Students become literate as they develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions to interpret and use language confidently for learning and communicating in and out of school and for participating effectively in society. Literacy involves students in listening to, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating oral, print, visual and digital texts, and using and modifying language for different purposes in a range of contexts.”
What is quality literature?
This inspirational quote sums it up beautifully…
“Literature is not just about a story, it is about life and one’s world. It can act as a mirror to enable readers to reflect on life’s problems and circumstances; a source of knowledge; a means to peer into the past, and the future; a vehicle to other places; a means to reflect on inner struggles; an introduction to the realities of life and death; and a vehicle for the raising and discussion of social issues…literature offers ‘endless possibilities’ for readers to explore their world and learn from it, to enter ‘other worlds’ and to engage in meaning making.” (Cairney, T.H. (1995). Pathways to Literacy. London: Cassell, pp. 77-78)
I believe there’s nothing quite like holding a quality book in your hands.
If you've read “It’s a Book” by Lane Smith, you’ll know exactly what I mean! If you haven’t read it yet, watch this…