Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why I Love Book Parades

'Jasmine' (Deltora Quest)
It's Children's Book Week in Australia. This is a time when the Children's Book Council announces its prize winning books (here) and all schools place special importance on books. As well, community libraries and book shops celebrate literature. This is usually the biggest week of the year for Teacher Librarians. It is the culmination of weeks of preparation and increased attention given to literature and in fact, all books.

The recipe is similar. Librarians display books in the library, children are introduced to the shortlist from the CBCA awards, books are read and reviewed, various forms of reader response are encouraged including craft, art, drama, movement, writing and so on. And, if the students are lucky enough, their teachers join with the Teacher Librarian to put on displays, set up a book sale for parents to donate to the school and give to their children, and they plan a parade usually attended by parents and other guests.

'Harry Potter'
The parade is a big event where children and teachers dress in costume to represent a favourite book character, an assembly is held to which parents are invited and there is a general celebration of books.

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting a school in Sydney (North Ryde) to see some of my grandchildren take part in a parade, visit the library to buy some books and support the cake stall. It was a wonderful event. The children were all dressed in costume, including our youngest grandchild just 9 weeks old.

There were so many highlights, here are a few:
  • My grandchildren chose their favourite characters and dressed like them.
  • The teachers at North Ryde school were all in costume and looked fantastic.
  • The Teacher Librarian was the wonderful host of the event (and was hilarious). She was clearly well loved by the children and showed her love for the kids and for books.
  • The whole school engaged in the Librarian's creation (and my grandchildren's favourite activity lately),  'What's that shortlister'?  The purpose is for the children to guess the name of one of the shortlisted books based on some simple clues. It was a lot of fun.
The whole school playing 'What's that shortlister'?
All in all, this was a wonderful celebration of Book Week and a wonderful reminder of the importance of Teacher Librarians. It was also a positive demonstration of the quality of public education in this country.

I'd love to hear your stories about book week.

Why are Book Week celebrations important?

There are lots of reasons why the work of teachers, students and parents is worth it, here are just two:

1. It reminds everyone that books offer more than just a good story. Literature can act as
a mirror to enable readers to reflect on life problems and circumstances
a source of knowledge
a source of ideological challenge
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
a vehicle for the raising and discussion of social issues
2. Celebrations of books in this way reminds everyone that books are an important part of multiple communities, including families, classes, schools and the neighbourhood. Books can help to build common ground, and give us stories and language to share. Books are a form of 'glue' that binds people together.

Star of the show, the Teacher Librarian
We must never underestimate the importance of literature in families and schools. Congratulations to all teacher librarians, principals, teachers, parents and children who took part in book week this year.

Other readings and resources
I say much more about the importance of literature in my book Pathways to Literacy.

There are lots of practical posts on Children's literature HERE


The Book Chook said...

I love book parades too. They're a wonderful way to engage kids with books and book characters. I've heard some parents complain about having to come up with costumes for their kids, but the looks of pride and excitement must surely make up for that last minute panic!

Jean Ashton said...

I heard the Book Week Parade was great. Sadly I was teaching young men and women the art of being excellent literacy educators in the early childhood years at Sydney Uni. Undoubtedly our paths will cross again one day!

Green Mama said...

My chid starts school next year, and while I've heard some of my fellow parents complaining about making costumes, personally I can't wait. I think I'll possibly make my children crawl under tables in the future because I'll possibly come in costume too. In fact I made my older daughter a Madeline costume, and at the Book Chook's nudging, we're having our own little book parade this afternoon!

Trevor Cairney said...

Thanks Green Mama, I was tempted to dress up myself too yesterday. If I'd known the teachers were going all out I might just have. My daughter had her youngest child (9 weeks) in a Little Red Riding Hood outfit! Glad you'll be a strong advocate for Book Week. Great idea to have your own parade this afternoon.

Nice to hear from the Book Chook too. We all need to remind parents just how important it is. We also need to work hard on boys over the age of 8-9 to convince them it's cool to dress up!

Great to hear from you too Jean. The Sydney Uni students are fortunate to have your input.

Kathryn said...

One of the teachers from my children's school commented about what a crazy (but fun) day it is because at lunchtime and recess all the children play in character. How wonderful is that! (My children and I love book week dressing up).