Escape to Everywhere
A delicious thought isn’t it? This is the pleasure of working in a library and celebrating Book Week with its various themes.
This year’s theme, ‘Escape to Everywhere’ celebrates the sheer excitement and thrill children gain from losing themselves in the world of a favourite fictional character. It encapsulates the alluring power of storytelling, and how deeply engaged and immersed one can become with characters and a great narrative. The ability to lose yourself in words and experience perspectives from various characters is a wonderful gift that can transport you anywhere in the world. Fortunately, the gift of reading is something that we all can learn to enjoy.
Book Week is a great opportunity to celebrate the unique and enchanting stories and storytellers Australia has to offer, and how they bring words, images and stories into the hearts and minds of children and adults.
However, our journey does not begin and end with a single week of celebration. The importance of reading and fostering a love of learning is at the forefront of the St Catherine’s Library Department. Every day, we share our passion and knowledge with the students. We recognise the importance of engaging students in reading from a very young age and the vital impact this has on their development.
The body of research supporting reading to children from birth to develop a connection with language, is now mainstream and covered in every baby manual and by every parenting guru. Programs such as the ‘1000 books before school’ developed by the State Library of Victoria and facilitated through public libraries (including, in our area, Stonnington Libraries) continue that journey, through toddlerhood and well into pre-school.
Our own Early Learning Centre emphasises a strong focus on listening and the sharing of stories, this is exemplified during their Morning Meeting time, where each child becomes the storyteller and when they read books during class or researching. In addition, a weekly visit to the Barbreck Library creates literacy links and develops the independence to self-select books, share stories and also share the knowledge of books each child has loved. In Barbreck, our open access and regular classes ensure that literature, stories and information are avenues to learning, competency, contentment and excitement.
The reading journey requires conversations with many practitioners and a library is no island. Staff, parents, professionals and children are on a journey together as they seek to develop proficiency and pride in decoding the written word. What journey is not satisfying, if it does not include overcoming a few hurdles? Though, for those of us who learned to read quickly and easily, it can be difficult to reconcile the journeys of others who stumble and stutter as letters dance across pages and sounds have no meaning. This quest can be eased by supportive programs and people who can steer a steady course through the variety of text styles, levels and varying interests. It can be eased by exciting initiatives such as Young Australian Best Book Awards, reading challenges, Book Week celebrations, connections with authors and experts in illustration. It shines a light in dark corners where readers struggle and illuminates a path with a brighter light to continue their journey as confident readers.
Book Week has been running since 1946 and the annual themes presented, allow us to highlight a different selection from our library collection each year. This includes picture books for very young children, more sophisticated content and concepts, non-fiction material and also novels across a range of ages and proficiencies from beginner readers to young adults.
After tales of woe and imminent demise, the children’s publishing industry are relishing in the renewed strength of the children’s publishing market and the strong demand for high quality written and illustrated word. The market is enjoying a renaissance in the demand for quality material as adults seek to share and recreate memories of their own childhoods. We understand the link between children who are capable and confident, and who enjoy reading, are also the children who experience greater academic success. We know that children who read widely experience a greater sense of wellbeing as they move through the different worlds and characters created in a story. We also realise that without inspiring texts and beautiful illustrations, the journey to reading is a much more serious (and laborious!) one.
The opportunities within Book Week allow us to escape to ‘everywhere and anywhere’ we choose.
We are, indeed, fortunate at this School to possess a cohort of professionals who consistently support and journey with us as our students become proficient readers.
- The Children’s Book Council of Australia: https://cbca.org.au/
- Early Language in Victoria Study: https://www.mcri.edu.au/research/projects/early-language-victoria-study-elvs
- 1000 Books Before School Program: https://www.slv.vic.gov.au/live-learn/1000-books-school and http://www.stonnington.vic.gov.au/library/Kids-and-Teens/1000-Books-Before-School
- Young Australian Best Book Awards: http://yabba.org.au/