Sssh. Don’t make a move. There could be a lion of a book in them there bushes, patiently stalking its prey… and it could be after your kids!
This year’s national Book Week theme, proudly presented by the Children’s Book Council of Australia, is Book Safari – a nod to the voracious appetite kids have for hunting down and devouring the perfect story. I couldn’t think of a more apt way to describe the way kids hunger for and demolish books, and it’s so exciting to see schools all over the country prepping for their biggest Book Week yet.
Last week, I paid a visit to Queanbeyan library where I was shown their top secret ‘Book Safari’ room where over a thousand children will converge between 24 and 28 August. What a children’s paradise. The walls of this large room were completely covered in bright and beautiful papery murals, signs, jungle palms and animals galore. The very lucky kids entering this animal wonderland are going to enter a world of storytelling and fantasy, all bound up in the bright green booklets piled high and ready for distribution come Monday.
But this glorious room is just a teensy sample of the plethora of activities and celebrations that will take place Australia-wide, both during Book Week and the week after.
Book Week is the longest running children’s festival in Australia, and it will celebrate its 64th birthday in 2009. Each year, schools and libraries all over the nation celebrate books, reading and Australian authors and illustrators. Not only does this festival celebrate the importance of reading, it provides a wonderful opportunity for adults and kids of all ages to view and enjoy the supreme local talent we have in Australian children’s literature.
During Book Week, the CBCA’s Book of the Year awards will be presented in the following categories:
- CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers
- CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers
- CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood
- CBCA Picture Book of the Year
- The Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Winners in these categories will be announced on Friday 21 August, and many libraries all over the country will feature a party and presentation of these winners as the news goes live. What a way to wrap up a week of glorious bookfest celebration.
Antje Wilson, teacher librarian from Jerrabomberra Public school in NSW, says her school is planning many Book Week activities.
“We have a book character parade, an excursion to the Queanbeyan library (important for children to get to know their local community library facilities), competitions, raffles and an author visit,” she tells Australian Women Online.
Like many schools across the nation, Jerrabomberra Public will finalise their week with a Book Week Parade of characters – where children and teachers alike come to school dressed as their favourite literary character. Regular favourites are classics like Alice in Wonderland, Spiderman and, of course – Harry Potter.
“Our Book Week parade has become an institution at our school, loved by students, staff and parents. Everyone dresses up – students, teachers and assistants, the principal, office staff and even the groundsman!” laughs Wilson.
“I am especially proud of our seniors who fully get into the spirit of the event, at an age where dressing up may not be cool. Our emphasis is on participation.”
A book lover herself, Wilson feels it is of vital importance to celebrate Book Week because it gets everyone talking about and engaging in books.
“Reading is a vital skill for all, and books are an accessible and less expensive form of literature that all can enjoy. It is also one way of promoting the importance and value of our school libraries in an age where their existence is sadly being questioned,” she says.
The school collects all the Early Childhood and Picture books shortlisted for CBCA’s Book of the Year, so children can become familiar with the works vying for this prestigious literary award. They also collect selected books in the Younger Readers and Non-Fiction categories. This year, Wilson has read all books in the Picture Book category to Key Stage 2 children (years 3 – 6).
“I especially enjoyed The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness by Colin Thompson,” says Wilson, who pegs this book to win in the Picture Book category. “However my favourite character is the irrepressible, confident and individual Sunday Chutney by Aaron Blabey.”
Doesn’t hearing about Sunday Chutney make you want to go out and devour every single nominated book? This is precisely what sharing and showcasing books does to us – kids and adults alike. And Book Week is a prime time to share in the bounty.
Remember, your kids don’t have to be going to school to enjoy Book Week. Learn more from the CBCA website or ask your local library about events in your community for little ones. Dig out your safari suit, grab your binoculars and join in the hunt for a parade of fabulous tales during this wonderful literary celebration.
- The Children’s Book Council of Australia website http://cbca.org.au has links to your state office at http://cbca.org.au/branches.htm
- For a peek at the Shortlist and Notables, visit http://cbca.org.au/awards.htm.
- For a list of Book Week themes over the past 64 years, visit http://cbca.org.au/themes.htm.
Tania McCartney, AWO’s own family matters columnist, will be a featured author during Book Week in the ACT.
Main photo credit: Marzanna Syncerz – Fotolia.com