Category Archives: Library Events

May the Fourth…be with you

Tomorrow is May the Fourth, the day chosen (for obvious reasons) to celebrate all things Star Wars. Across the globe, fans will come together to watch the films, share trivia and dress up as their favourite character, channelling their inner Jedi or venturing to the Dark Side.


Image by aitoff: CC0 1.0

Incredibly Star Wars Day has its origins in a political event. On 4th May 1979, Margaret Thatcher won the British general election and became the country’s first female prime minister. Her party, the Conservatives, placed an advertisement in newspapers, which read “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations” (Star Wars, n.d.). This was then adopted by Star Wars fans as the date for their annual event. I love the fact that a unifying international celebration has emerged out of a polarising political victory (for many in Britain).

Star Wars Books

Image by tunechick83: CC0 1.0

Star Wars, like Harry Potter, has spread beyond its original medium to include a whole range of franchised materials. Unlike Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, it started life as a film, which quickly became a book. More films and books followed the release of A New Hope (Star Wars: Episode IV), along with action figures, Lego products and video games.

As with Harry Potter, Star Wars has become a way into reading for many children. Through their interest in the characters and settings, they have been encouraged to tackle the challenges of the written word. This is the reason why it is important for parents, teachers and librarians to embrace popular culture and not frown upon children engaging with it.


Image by aldobarquin: CC0 1.0

I have a great fondness for Star Wars. It was the second film I saw at a cinema (the first, Snow White, doesn’t really count, as I left it screaming and crying after seeing the close-up of the wicked stepmother’s face!). And yes, it was the original 1977 release. I loved it and the experience of watching it stayed with me for a long time. I remember wanting to wear my hair like Princess Leia and collecting the first action figures. In fact, I feel a movie marathon coming on!

Tomorrow, May the Fourth be with you. Look out for events at libraries either near you or in a galaxy far, far away. And remember, as Yoda says, “Do. Or do not. There is no try” (The Empire Strikes Back).


Ten reasons to love libraries

In last week’s post, I quoted Joanne Harris’ Twitter thread on getting children to read. I have been inspired to write a similar list to celebrate National Library Week. So here are ten reasons to love libraries:

1. Libraries are free to join and free to use.

The library is like a candy store where everything is free.

Jamie Ford

2. Libraries are safe places for many people.

A library is not just a reference service: it is a place for the vulnerable. From the elderly gentleman whose only remaining human interaction is with library staff, to the isolated young mother who relishes the support and friendship that grows from a baby rhyme time session, to the slow moving 30-something woman collecting her CDs, libraries are a haven in a world where community services are being ground down to nothing.

Angela Clarke

3. Libraries contribute to a democracy by enabling anyone to access knowledge and information.

The library is central to our free society. It is a critical element in the free exchange of information at the heart of our democracy.

Vartan Gregorian

4. Libraries open their doors to everyone, regardless of background.

A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it.

Neil Gaiman

5. Libraries contain resources that promote learning and enjoyment.

The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history.

Carl T. Rowan

Public Library

Wallsend District Library, NSW by State Library of NSW Public Library Services: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

6. Libraries provide programmes and activities that build skills, expand minds and form connections between people.

Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life.

Sidney Sheldon

7. Libraries build a sense of community, both within their walls and outside in the wider world.

The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community.

Paula Poundstone

8. Libraries enable patrons to access digital technology and resources, thereby bridging the digital divide and allowing greater equality of opportunity.

We must also promote global access to the Internet. We need to bridge the digital divide not just within our country, but among countries. Only by giving people around the world access to this technology can they tap into the potential of the Information Age.

Al Gore

9. Libraries encourage a love of reading for all ages through the provision of resources and services.

Libraries are the future of reading.

Courtney Milan

10. Libraries have wonderful staff, who are knowledgable, friendly and helpful.

Librarians are the coolest people out there doing the hardest job out there on the frontlines. And every time I get to encounter or work with librarians, I’m always impressed by their sheer awesomeness.

Neil Gaiman

Public Library

Brown Library by VWCC Media Geeks: CC BY-NC 2.0

Neil Gaiman expresses the value (and importance of libraries) wonderfully:

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

So head down to your local library and enjoy all that it has to offer!

International Book Giving Day

This Wednesday, February 14th, is not just Library Lovers Day, but also International Book Giving Day. First conceived in 2012, this volunteer initiative is now held in over 30 countries. The aim is “to get books into the hands of as many children as possible… [thereby] increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books” (International Book Giving Day, n.d.). The International Book Giving Day website provides three easy ways to celebrate the day, while their Facebook page allows you to connect with others who are participating in the event. There are also a number of resources available for use, including bookmarks, bookplates and posters. This year, these have been created by Elys Dolan, a children’s author and illustrator from the UK. They are fabulous and free to download from the website.

International Book Giving Day 2018 poster by Elys Dolan

Book Giving Day

Image used with kind permission of International Book Giving Day

So get involved by buying or donating a book to a child. They might just catch the reading bug as a result of your kindness. Whatever you choose to do, have a happy International Book Giving Day (and Library Lovers Day) on Wednesday!



Love letter to a library

In February, there are several events to celebrate the love we have for both libraries and books. In Australia, one of these is Library Lovers Day, which is held on February 14th. An initiative of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the theme this year is love letters to libraries and focuses on “the love that we all hold for libraries and how they help to shape our national identity” (ALIA, n.d.). With that in mind, here is my love letter to the library of my childhood…

Askew Road Library

Dear Askew Road Library,

You captured my heart from the moment I walked through your doors as a small child. You weren’t grand or beautiful like some of the other libraries in Hammersmith. In fact you were quite unassuming and plain. You may not have been much to look at, but inside you were rich with treasures. And I loved you. You opened up a world of imagination and knowledge to me. I spent hours with you, browsing your shelves and finding a quiet spot to read. I have so many happy memories of growing up with you. Although there have been many other libraries since we first met all those years ago, you have always had a special place in my heart.

Thank you for being a big part of my reading journey and for sharing your books with me.

The ALIA website contains ideas and resources for celebrating Library Lovers Day in your library. There are also a series of love letters written by Australian authors, such as Jackie French and Natalie Jane Prior. Here’s a very funny one from Tony Wilson, who wrote The Cow Tripped Over the Moon and Hickory Dickory Dash

Love Letter

Image used with kind permission of ALIA

Join in the fun and celebrate all that is wonderful about libraries. Maybe you could write your own love letter to a library or go on a blind date with a book. Whatever you choose to do, let your library know how much it is valued and appreciated.

National Non-Fiction November

National Non-Fiction November is a month-long “celebration of all things factual” (Federation of Children’s Book Groups (FCBG), n.d.). It advocates for “all those readers that have a passion for information and facts and attempts to bring non-fiction celebration in line with those of fiction” (FCBG, n.d.). In this way, both reading for information and reading for imagination can result in children reading for pleasure. This year, the theme is The World Around Us and the FCBG’s website has lots of ideas and resources for promoting non-fiction in schools and libraries.

To celebrate Non-Fiction November, I pulled out a book, Wildlife in Towns (written by Cathy Kilpatrick), that I was given as a prize for “general progress” when I was in primary school. Published in 1976, it was a good choice for a child who loved animals and birds, but who lived in inner London surrounded by bricks and concrete. Looking through it, I realised how much non-fiction for children has changed over the last 40 years.

Wildlife In Towns

Wildlife in Towns, written by Cathy Kilpatrick

The book is very text-heavy, with pages filled with writing interspersed with black and white photos and a couple of pages of colour pictures. It looks and feels more like a textbook, which was probably not uncommon in the 1970s. Whilst I loved it, it is not an enticing book for a reluctant reader. Nor is it likely to attract the attention of a child browsing the shelves of a library or bookshop.

So I went to my local library and borrowed a selection of non-fiction books from the children’s section. I chose those about animals to see how they compared to my wildlife book (and by happenstance, this is also the theme for 2017’s Non-Fiction November). And I unearthed some real beauties.

A Seed Is Sleepy

A Seed is Sleepy, written by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long

Like A Seed is Sleepy, most of the books I found contain illustrations rather than photographs, making them very appealing to young children. They have a picture book quality to them, which is enticing. The variety of artistic styles and ‘looks’ make for an interesting, rather than a homogenous, non-fiction collection.


Creaturepedia, written and illustrated by Adrienne Barman

Creaturepedia is published by Wide Eyed Editions, which “creates original non-fiction for children and families and believes that books should encourage curiosity about the world we live in, inspiring readers to set out on their own journey of discovery” (The Quarto Group, 2017). Another beautiful book from their catalogue is Atlas of Animal Adventures. This includes a double-page illustration on honeybees, containing snippets of interesting information about these creatures so familiar to me from long summer days in England.

Atlas Of Animal Adventures

Atlas of Animal Adventures, illustrated by Lucy Letherland and written by Rachel Williams and Emily Hawkins

This approach, which differs greatly from my 1970s wildlife book, is a feature of today’s non-fiction for children. Images, either photos or illustrations, are peppered with sentences rather than paragraphs of information. It makes for a less overwhelming read for those who are learning or are less confident. It also encourages the use of pictures to make sense of the text, an important strategy for emergent readers. Another publisher that uses this approach very successfully is DK, with their Eyewitness series.


Mammal, written by Steve Parker

Another means by which information is conveyed to young children in an appealing way is through the picture book format. Using storytelling alongside facts engages readers and allows adults to share a non-fiction book with children in the same way as they would a fiction book. This encourages the concept of reading for pleasure and demonstrates an acceptance of reading preferences. As I explored in an earlier post, when we view all forms of text as being equally important, all children come to see themselves as readers.

Just Ducks!

Just Ducks!, written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

My journey into today’s world of non-fiction books for children has shown me how far publishing has come in four decades. There are many beautiful, interesting, informative and engaging books out there. Between their pages, images are balanced with words, much like in picture books, making them accessible to all and providing a doorway into a subject. These books will often lead to further exploration of a topic through more in-depth texts.

Big Picture Book Outdoors

Big Picture Book Outdoors, written by Minna Lacy and illustrated by Rachel Stubbs and John Russell

Finally there are a couple of non-fiction series that children particularly enjoy: Horrible Histories (along with Horrible Geography and Horrible Science) and The Magic School Bus. The former contains gory and unusual facts, presented in a humorous way, whilst the latter involves “wild field trips exploring a wide variety of science topics including invasive species, weather hazards, … brain and nervous system, and deep sea exploration” (Scholastic, 2017). Both cover a range of subjects, with something to interest everyone.

Welcome to the world of children’s non-fiction. It is a wonderful place to visit!

All images taken by the author.




Games galore

This week is International Games Week, which celebrates all things ludic, including board games, card games and video games. It is “a great opportunity for public, school and academic libraries to introduce fun activities and raise awareness of the social and educational benefits of play” (Australian Library and Information Association, n.d.). As a starting point for developing a collection for a children’s library, here are some classic board games that have stood the test of time (plus a fabulous card game, which comes highly recommended by my nieces).


Reclusive millionaire Samuel Black’s been murdered in his mansion! Now, it’s up to you to crack the case! Question everything to unravel the mystery. Who did it? Where? And with what weapon? Ransack the mansion for clues, ask cunning detective questions and leave no card unturned. Solve the murder first to win! Fun twist on the classic mystery game features new characters and a two-player version!

For 2 to 6 players.

Ages 8 and up.

(Synopsis by Hasbro)

As well as the traditional version of the game, there is also Cluedo: Harry Potter edition for wizards and muggles to play. One of the students has vanished from Hogwarts and it is up to the players (eg. Harry and Hermione) to work out who did it (eg. Draco Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange), how (eg. the vanishing cabinet and mandrake) and where (eg. the owlery and the potions classroom). There are also different types of cards: allies, spells and the Dark Mark. Along with the ability to gain and lose house points, these help to make the game more enjoyable for Harry Potter fans. And for younger players, there is Cluedo Junior, where the mystery that needs to be solved is not a murder, but the case of the missing cake!



Monopoly by William Warby: CC BY 2.0

This version of the Monopoly game welcomes the Rubber Ducky, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Penguin into its family of tokens. Choose your token, place it on GO! and roll the dice to own it all! There can be only one winner in the Monopoly game. Will it be you?

For 2 to 8 players.

Ages 8 and up.

(Synopsis by Hasbro)

There are many versions of Monopoly, catering for a wide range of interests. These include Star Wars, Game of Thrones and London Olympics 2012. There are also regional versions, such the Australian one, which include local landmarks and tokens. As with Cluedo, there is a junior game. The edition I’ve played is based on a fairground with properties ranging from the balloon stand to the roller coaster.

Guess Who?

Guess Who?

035/365 by Brad Slavin: CC BY-NC 2.0

It’s the Guess Who? game-the original guessing game! This Guess Who? game goes back to the tabletop style boards, styled after the original, rather than handheld boards. Each player chooses a mystery character and then using yes or no questions, they try to figure out the other player’s mystery character. When they think they know who their opponent’s mystery character is, players make a guess. If the guess is wrong, that player loses the game! Players can also challenge opponents to a series of games in the Championship Series, where the first player to win 5 games is the Guess Who? champion.

For 2 players.

Ages 6 and up.

(Synopsis by Hasbro)

Guess Who? enables younger children to develop higher order thinking skills through logic and problem solving. This prepares them for playing more complex games like Cluedo. There are no additional editions of the game, but it is possible to download and print alternative character sheets, such as one based on The Littlest Pet Shop.



Scrabble by Jacqui Brown: CC BY-SA 2.0

Scrabble is the ultimate crossword game in which every letter counts. Grab your friends and take turns forming words on the board. After playing your turn, count the value of all the letters in every new word that you formed. Don’t forget the bonus points for placing letters on premium squares. Double letter! Triple word! It’s all about playing words on the high-scoring hotspots to get ahead. Played a Q on a triple-letter score? Your score just got a lot bigger. Use all your 7 tiles in one turn, and score a whopping 50 points in addition to your word score! Knowing the rules and a few tricks will help you to score more points and improve your chances of winning. At the end of the game, the player with the highest score wins.

For 2 to 4 players.

Ages 8 and up.

(Synopsis by Hasbro)

Whilst Scrabble is a great way of developing and expanding vocabulary, Junior Scrabble helps children to develop confidence in creating words from their seven random letters. In this version, the double-sided board means that novice players can begin by using the crosswords-style side, placing their tiles on the pre-formed words. As they become more experienced, they can flip the board and use the blank grid to make their own words. The scoring has also been simplified to prevent children from becoming overwhelmed.



Yahtzee by liz west: CC BY 2.0

A family favourite for over 40 years!  Throw the dice to build straights, full houses, five of a kind-YAHTZEE!

For 1 or more players.

Ages 8 and up.

(Synopsis by Hasbro)

I’ve played Animal Yahtzee by Haba, which is a simpler version of the original game. Instead of dots, the dice have animals on their faces: a snake, camel, tiger, elephant, monkey and parrot. As with Yahtzee, the aim is to throw combinations, such as three-of-a-kind, full house and, of course, Yahtzee! This is a great way of introducing younger children to  the timeless game.



Sorry by frankieleon: CC BY 2.0

Slide, collide and score to win the game of Sorry! Draw cards to see how far you get to move one of your pawns on the board. If you land on a Slide you can zip to the end and bump your opponents’ pawns-or your own! Jump over pawns and hide in your Safety zone while getting powers with the 2 power-up tokens. Keep on moving and bumping until you get all three of your pawns from your color Start to your color Home. But watch out, because if you get bumped, Sorry! It’s all the way back to Start!

For 2 to 4 players.

Ages 6 and up.

(Synopsis by Hasbro)

As with most of the other games in this post, Sorry! is available in different versions. Sorry! Express is a travel edition, whilst Star Wars Sorry! is played on a Millennium Falcon game board.

Sleeping Queens

Rise and Shine! The Pancake Queen, the Ladybug Queen and ten of their closest friends have fallen under a sleeping spell and it’s your job to wake them up. Use strategy, quick thinking and a little luck to rouse these napping nobles from their royal slumbers. Play a knight to steal a queen or take a chance on a juggling jester. But watch out for wicked potions and dastardly dragons! The player who wakes the most queens wins.

For 2 to 5 players.

Ages 8 and up.

(Synopsis by Gamewright)

Gamewright, the makers of Sleeping Queens, has loads of great games. On their website, these are arranged by age, reflecting the complexity and length of each one. Examples include Elephant’s Trunk (ages 3 and up), Rat-a-Tat Cat (ages 6 and up), Frog Juice (ages 8 and up) and Forbidden Island (ages 10 and up). Having played a number of Gamewright games, I can highly recommend them.

Whilst researching this topic, I discovered a fabulous series of articles, Board in the Library, by John Pappas, a Library Branch Director from Philadelphia. He has a website, also entitled Board in the Library, which includes reviews of a wide range of board games and advice for hosting a games night. Although much of the information is aimed at an adult audience, it can be used as a starting point for selecting games for children and young adults to use in libraries. I had no idea there were so many interesting games out there!

More information about International Games Week can be found on the American Library Association website. There’s also a Puzzle Hunt based on games and play, which will be held online over five days. So thinking caps on everyone! Game on!!


The value of school libraries

October is International School Library Month, when the importance of school libraries in the lives of children are celebrated and promoted to the wider community. This comes at a time when these wonderful and important places continue to be at risk of closure, as budgets are cut and teacher-librarians are replaced with unqualified staff; a situation that is reflected in the public library sector in the UK as a result of austerity measures.

School libraries are worth fighting for!

The plight of school libraries has been highlighted by two Children’s Laureates: Chris Riddell, the UK’s Children’s Laureate from 2015 to 2017, and Leigh Hobbs, the current Australian Children’s Laureate. Here’s what they both have to say about the value of school libraries.

By promoting reading for pleasure, introducing our children to life-changing books and turning them into lifelong readers, school libraries are a vital resource that must be nurtured.

Chris Riddell, 2016, in an open letter to Justine Greening, the secretary of state for education, which was also signed by the previous eight Children’s Laureates

School libraries played a vital part in my life, turning me into an avid reader and inspiring me to choose a creative path in my career.

Chris Riddell, 2017

When every parent knows the name of their child’s favourite book, author and, yes, school librarian and can share and read together with their child the books they bring home, we know literacy standards will soar and we’ll all be richer.

Chris Riddell, 2016, in an open letter to Justine Greening, the secretary of state for education, which was also signed by the previous eight Children’s Laureates

Libraries have played an enormous role in my life. Reading and exploring history and art is something I have been able to do because of libraries.

Leigh Hobbs, n.d.

Many people don’t realise how precarious the situation is in regard to school libraries. Many school authorities think that because of the internet, we don’t need books-and therefore we don’t need librarians.

Leigh Hobbs, 2017

We need to join Chris Riddell, who is now the president of the School Library Association, and Leigh Hobbs in advocating for all schools to have a school library staffed by trained professionals, so all children will have access to resources that will promote their love of reading and expand their knowledge and learning.

Save our school libraries!


Happy birthday, Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl, the master storyteller, was born on this day in 1916. Known for his irreverent and often dark humour, he is the creator of such well-known characters as Charlie Bucket, Sophie, James Trotter, Danny, George Kranky and Matilda Wormwood (Characters, n.d.). His books were published across three decades, beginning with James and the Giant Peach in 1961 through to The Minpins in 1991, a year after his death. They have been hugely popular, remaining in print since their initial publication. His long-time collaboration with the fabulous illustrator, Quentin Blake, has shaped how the world sees the characters in his books. Roald Dahl also wrote screenplays, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and short stories for adults, many of which were filmed as part of the Tales of the Unexpected TV series (which I remember watching when they were screened in the UK). But Roald Dahl was much more than a writer; he was also “a spy, an ace fighter pilot, a chocolate historian and a medical inventor” (About Roald Dahl, n.d.).

The wonderful world of Roald Dahl

I enjoy reading Roald Dahl’s work to children. They love the characters, with their crazy names and personality traits, and the humour that runs through every story. There is also a sense of fairness and justice in the books. The mean, nasty adults (and there are many scattered through the pages) always get their comeuppance, often at the hands of the children. And there are so many memorable words and quotes that children (and adults) just love. For example, in Revolting Rhymes (highly recommended, although not for the faint-hearted!), Red Riding Hood “whips a pistol from her knickers” (Dahl, 1982) and shoots the wolf, whilst poor Jack is beaten by his mother for exchanging their cow for magic beans, “using (and nothing could be meaner) the handle of a vacuum cleaner” (Dahl, 1982). The recently published Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary contains words used in the books, including bogrotting, horrigust and plussy! It’s wondercrump!

 UK stamps featuring characters created by Roald Dahl and drawn by Quentin Blake

Each year, Roald Dahl Day is held in schools and libraries to celebrate his birth. A range of activities are organised as part of this, including hosting a Roald Dahl Day party, dressing up as your favourite character, reading a Roald Dahl story or making dream jars or marvellous medicine at school or at home (Roald Dahl HQ, 2017). As part of the celebrations, Puffin Virtually Live broadcasts a themed event live to children around the world and last year this included a draw-along with Quentin Blake and a message from the cast of The BFG (Puffin Virtually Live, n.d.). You can follow all the festivities at Roald Dahl HQ on Twitter.

Celebrations wouldn’t be complete without some scrumptious chocolate cake; just ask Bruce Bogtrotter!

For further fun, you can visit the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, the village in Berkshire in which he lived for almost 40 years. It has three interactive galleries and is suitable for children aged 6 to 12. Nearby, in Aylesbury, is the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery. This has hands-on exhibits inspired by his stories, including the mini- beasts living in the Giant Peach.

  The splendiferous Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre!

Roald Dahl died in 1990, at the age of 74 (About Roald Dahl, n.d.). He left behind a wealth of stories and characters loved by children (and their parents and grandparents). But his legacy also continues to live on in the charity established in his name. Shortly after his death, his widow, Felicity, set up the Roald Dahl Foundation, which has since been renamed Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity. It helps support seriously ill children and their families through providing Roald Dahl nurses and offering financial grants for those experiencing hardship. Through his stories and his charity, Roald Dahl is still bringing joy to children throughout the world.

Celebrate reading

During September, several events will be held to celebrate reading. These help to raise the profile of reading (and libraries) within the community. They allow people to “discover and rediscover the joy of reading” (The Reading Hour, n.d.), whilst encouraging the “anytime, anywhere” (The Reading Hour, n.d.) philosophy, which makes reading visible in society in all its forms.

The Australian Reading Hour will be held on September 14th. The aim of the event is to encourage people of all ages to read any time during the day for 60 minutes. In previous years (it has been running since 2012), it has been held mainly in public and school libraries. However this year, publishers, booksellers and authors have come on board and it is hoped this will expand the scheme and shift the focus from child readers to reading for all ages. If you are not working in a library service or bookshop, you can host your own event for family, friends or colleagues in your home or at your workplace.

Spend an hour reading by yourself…

Boy Reading

Image by sof_sof_0000: CC0 1.0

or reading with someone else…

or reading a newspaper on a bench!

Reading Side By Side

The Reading Bench by David Hodgson: CC BY 2.0

Last week, on September 6th, it was National Read a Book Day in the UK and the US. Other similar events in America include National Reading Day on January 23rd and Read Across America Day on March 2nd, Dr Seuss’ birthday. All these events place the spotlight on reading, encouraging adults and children to dive into books. Because, as Dr Seuss said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”!

Children’s Book Week

Children’s Book Week, which begins today in Australia, is a celebration of Australian children’s literature and the authors and illustrators who create it. It is organised by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA), which works to “bring words, images and stories into the hearts and minds of children and adults” (Children’s Book Council of Australia, n.d.). The theme for 2017 is Escape to Everywhere, which I think is magical.

Storytelling sessions are often held during Children’s Book Week

School and public libraries organise activities and displays to celebrate books and reading during Children’s Book Week. The Book Chook, Madison’s Library and Book Week For Beginners all offer suggestions for this year’s theme, which can be used as starting points for future celebrations. These include creating posters, bookmarks, postcards and book trailers. Dressing-up as your favourite book character is another popular whole school activity. Public libraries often organise storytelling sessions and writing or colouring-in competitions for children and young adults.

Face painting can be part of the Children’s Book Week celebrations

Each year, the day before the start of Children’s Book Week, the winners of the CBCA Book of the Year awards are announced. The aim of these is to:

promote quality literature for young Australians
support and encourage a wide range of Australian writers and illustrators of  children’s books
celebrate contributions to Australian children’s literature

(Children’s Book Council of Australia, n.d.)

These are the winners for 2017 in each of the five categories:

CBCA Book of the Year-Older Readers
Books for young people aged 13 to 18 (secondary school level)

One Would Think the Deep, written by Claire Zorn

Sam has always had things going on in his head that no one else understands, even his mum. And now she’s dead, it’s worse than ever.

With nothing but his skateboard and a few belongings in a garbage bag, Sam goes to live with the strangers his mum cut ties with seven years ago: Aunty Lorraine and his cousins Shane and Minty.

Despite the suspicion and hostility emanating from their fibro shack, Sam reverts to his childhood habit of following Minty around and is soon surfing with Minty to cut through the static fuzz in his head. But as the days slowly meld into one another, and ghosts from the past reappear, Sam has to make the ultimate decision…will he sink or will he swim.

(Synopsis by UQP)

CBCA Book of the Year-Younger Readers
Books for children aged 8 to 12 (upper primary school level)

Rockhopping, written and illustrated by Trace Balla

Join Clancy and Uncle Egg on a rambling, rockhopping adventure in Gariwerd (the Grampians), to find the source of the Glenelg River. A story about following your flow, and the unexpected places you may go.

(Synopsis by Allen & Unwin)

CBCA Book of the Year-Early Childhood
Books for early readers (preschool and lower primary school level)

Go Home, Cheeky Animals, written by Johanna Bell and illustrated by Dion Beasley

At Canteen Creek where we live, there are cheeky dogs everywhere. But when the cheeky goats, donkeys, buffaloes and camels make mischief in the camp, the dogs just lie there-until those pesky animals really go too far. Then the cheeky camp dogs roar into action!

(Synopsis by Allen & Unwin)

CBCA Picture Book of the Year
Books “in which the text and illustrations achieve artistic and literary unity and the story, theme or concept is enhanced and unified through the illustrations” (Children’s Book Council of Australia, n.d.)

Home in the Rain, written and illustrated by Bob Graham

Francie’s going to have a new baby sister very soon. But what will her name be? Francie has so many ideas! On a long drive home with Mum, in the pouring rain, maybe they’ll find one that’s just right… From multi-award winning author-illustrator Bob Graham comes a tender, touching story of family life, perfect for sharing when a new baby is on the way. A beautifully observed celebration of the way inspiration can, and often does, happen in the most ordinary and unlikely of places.

(Synopsis by Walker Books)

The Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Books “which have the prime purpose of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style” (Children’s Book Council of Australia, n.d.)

Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks, written by Gina M Newton

This book brings together 55 national parks, selected across all Australian states and territories, and over 120 animals. It is divided into seven sections according to habitat (woodlands and grasslands; forests; rainforests; arid zones; mountains; wetlands and waterways; coasts, oceans and islands), each including a number of national parks and a selection of the fish, reptiles, frogs, birds and mammals that inhabit them. At the end of the book is a section on ‘little critters’-beetles, spiders, butterflies, grasshoppers, bugs and so on.

(Synopsis by NLA Publishing)

So hurry into your local library to borrow these winners and share them with the children in your life!

Dressing up as your favourite book character can be grrrr-eat fun!

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Radarsmum1967: CC BY 2.0

If you are in Australia, enjoy Children’s Book Week. Otherwise, celebrate children’s literature and reading wherever you are!