Hello Tasmania

Thanks to the Children’s Book Council crew in Hobart and Launceston,especially Nella Pickup and Patsy Jones. Thanks for organising a most splendid four days with you all down there in Hobart and Launceston.

Usually I drop a quick bite of my happenings when tripping around each day but down south the wifi was a little hard to come by – even the local library in Launceston didn’t have it. So here is a bit of a blurb about the last few days.

Last week we flew down to Hobart for me to do my Children’s Book Council of Australia Tassie Branch and SCBWI and National Year of Reading gigs. On Wednesday two sessions were presented, one professional development session on Writing History for teachers in the afternoon at the local Princes Street Primary school (it was so delighful being able to just plug that laptop in and go and have a nice large IWB to display my images!) and then the other session early in the evening to parents and the general community on eBooks, Book Apps and Reading! That session had a few parents and quite a few teachers as well. It generated lots of chat and discussions about using the iPads in schools with a little bit of home usage discussed as well, and of course the continuing issue of being able to use the same book app on multiple devices came up. We had a look at good and bad examples of ones that I have worked on as well as a few classy creations like the Very Itchy Bear and the Yellow Submarine. Lots of chatting too about what makes a good App / eBook and how to go about creating them – and of course some of the pitfalls – all of which I can talk about from first hand experience!!

Then it was a wind driven drive up to Launceston (I am sure the hire car was returned with the imprint of my fingers still in the steering wheel) to do it all again in the upstairs of Fullers Bookshop which was just a terrific setting, with carpet and nice comfy chairs, as well as at the Launceston library. But first things first … before we got to Launceston we had to stop for some wine and cheese tastings along the way. Okay, I didn’t partake of the wine swilling but I did sample lots of cheeses and we have returned to Sydney with more than a few wedges. We also took a stroll around town and came across the museum and I was just thriled to the core when we stumbled across the Albert Ullin exhibition of artwork from children’s book creators. Yeah!

The final activity of the Tassie jaunt was to join Corinne and Claire for the regional SCBWI Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia gathering (Corrine is in charge of a few states and she does it so wonderfully well too!) again in the bookshop. It was wonderful to catch up and meet (some for the very first time) with the Tasmanian SCBWI members like Christina Booth, Julie Hunt, and Penny Garnsworthy, many of whom I have emailed with over lots of years.

What was super amazing and completely dumbfounded me was finding out about the status of specialists children’s librarians in Tasmania. What specialist children’s librarians? I don’t think there are many in the state education system, and the community libraries are also devoid of children’s specialist librarians. Oh that’s right – we’ve gone digital so we don’t need them! How short sighted!
cialist librarians are crucial to the efficient operation of any library.

Teacher trained librarians are essential:

  • to put the right book into the hands of students
  • to find the right book (be it traditional or digital) for the teaching staff
  • to find the right website to support the teachers in their curriculum development and with the removal of essential curriculum staff in state education offices this is even more crucial
  • to choose the right books for the school libraries … and so much more.

I am amazed how authorities can consider that one central buying office for all branches, or the authority in head office, can decide the books that would be appropriate to all. You need a teacher trained librarian to decide the material for his or her school, surely! Or have we decided that homogenised education – the one size fits all policy – is the education of the future. No wonder the standards are slipping!

So, for the Tasmanian branch of the Children’s Book Council three cheers for creating the booklet for parents and for getting out there and supporting parents and kids with advice about what to read.

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