I love books. I love reading. I give books for birthdays. I give books for Christmas. I love children’s books and books for teenagers. If you ask me about books for grown ups I pause, I stumble and eventually will name a few to read. Ask me about books for children and I will lovingly launch into long details about this book or that!
Book Week is always a highlight of my year. It is a time when we celebrate Australian books. This year the theme is “Reading is my secret power” 17 – 23 August.
The Children’s Book Council of Australia, through volunteer expert judges, select the best books written in the last 12 months by Australian authors and illustrators. There are two picture book categories one being for older readers (Picture Book of the Year) and one for children under 5 years, Early Childhood.
Some authors from the Early Childhood category from past years include: Mem Fox, Bob Graham, Alison Lester, Libby Gleeson, Stephen Michael King and delights like I’m a Dirty Dinosaur By Janeen Brian (Illust: Ann James), invite you into a world with rhymes, humour and the possibility of messing around in the dirt with your little one just like the Dirty Dinosaur.
How do you find books to read to your young family? Your local library has many picture books, books to listen to at home and at your library storytime the librarian will read to you and your little ones. Board books for little ones to chew and explore are also available at the library. The librarian can also assist you in finding books that meet a specific need, such as picture books that can help you talk to your child about the death of a pet or a friend moving away.
Your public library may also offer free access to The Story Box Library https://storyboxlibrary.com.au/. This subscription service has videos of well known Australians reading wonderful picture books aloud. It is helpful for parents whose first language isn’t English and for all of us who want to share our love of picture books.
A list of books grouped by age level and showcasing Australian creators can be found here
Most states also have book awards judged by children themselves: Victoria YABBA http://yabba.org.au/, NSW KOALA https://www.koalansw.org.au/, N.T. KROC https://www.darwin.nt.gov.au/libraries/kids-and-teens/kroc-awards-0, W.A. https://wayrba.org.au/, QLD BILBY https://qld.cbca.org.au/aboutBILBY
Reading to your child, especially a printed book, creates a special, intimate time for you and your little ones. It becomes a shared memory, so that perhaps the first time your young one sees something strange or unusual, you can remind the child that you read about that animal/experience/event in a book and it worked out okay for the character in the book.
Reading out loud together is extremely valuable to you and to your child. Research shows that reading increases vocabulary and assists in later school years. For me it is valuable because it brings me joy and it opens my eyes to experiences and places that I cannot travel to or experience.
Happy Book Week and happy reading!
Margaret is a Children’s Librarian with over 30 years experience in public and school libraries. She is a mother of two adult children and she loves to read and talk books!