Posted in Books & Reading, literacy, Reading, Teaching and Learning

Indigenous Literacy Day 2017, Brisbane Writer’s Festival

My Brisbane Writer’s Festival experience began today with the opportunity to attend the Indigenous Literacy Day:  Book Launch and Book Swap presented by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation in the beautiful Angel’s Palace.  This building is designed to be an immersive experience and the artwork on the exterior of this tent was designed by artist Gordon Hookey.

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The main focus of the event was to launch the book Two ways strong written by indigenous students from Concordia Lutheran College. The book tells the story of what it is like for a young person from a remote community to have to leave home to attend boarding school.

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The launch was officiated by the Foundation’s patron, Hon Quentin Bryce.  Her words were both touching and inspirational.  She began by thanking the indigenous women who have taught her throughout her life what it is to be an Elder.

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Quentin Bryce then went on to discuss how there is something irresistible about a story and that a world without stories is unimaginable.  Yet, in many homes, there are very few, if any, books.  The work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is to redress this imbalance.  By the end of 2017, sixteen thousand books will have been delivered to indigenous communities by the Foundation.  Importantly, many of these stories have been written by indigenous authors and celebrate indigenous ways of life, culture, languages, and traditions.  Suzy Wilson, the founder of the ILF, went on to say that these books provide opportunities to reading and literacy and this opens doors to possibilities, making children strong.

Following the formalities, guests at the event were invited to participate in a book swap by donating a favourite book and taking a book from the collection for the cost of a gold coin.

Simultaneous Indigenous Literacy Day events were being held at the Sydney Opera House, Foundation Square in Melbourne and the State Library of Western Australia in Perth.

Attending this event on a beautiful Brisbane spring day was a privilege and a wonderful way to begin the Brisbane Writer’s Festival.

One more thing….Something to keep an eye out for is the two board books for babies & toddlers that are being published by the ILF to be released in December.

 

 

 

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Posted in Books & Reading, Library collections, Middle School Reads, Read Like a Girl, Teaching and Learning, YA Literature

5 inspirational books for girls in Middle School

I am often asked to recommend “must read” books for girls of certain ages. Common questions include: “Can you provide a list of books all Middle School students should read?” and “What are the books all students should read before the finish high school?”

Such questions always bother me because reading tastes are so individual and varied that different students will connect with different books. Research tells us that students will read and enjoy reading when they are connected to the books that match their needs and interests (Susan La Marca, 2006).

That being said, the following five books are among my own favourite and I think they are highly inspirational reads for Middle School girls:

Fiction

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

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This story is about being true to yourself. When Stargirl arrives at Mica High she stands out because she is different from everyone else. Rather than be shunned however, her beautiful smile and heart charm her classmates and she is loved by all.

And then they turn on her. Urged to become ‘normal’ to maintain her popularity, the danger is that Stargirl will give up everything that makes her unique.

Wonder

Wonder

This is a story about kindness, true friendship, and acceptance.

August Pullman, born with a facial deformity that makes him very difficult to look at, is about to face school for the first time and enter 5th grade. Being the new kid is hard – being the new kid when your appearance is so different to everyone else takes courage.

This book has been loved the world over and the Choose Kind Movement was inspired by one of its most memorable quotes:

“WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING

RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”

R.J. Palacio, Wonder

The war that saved my life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The war that saved my life

This is a story of determination and rising up in the face of adversity.

Set in London during World War 2, this is the story of Ada who was born with a clubfoot and is shunned by her neglectful and sometimes abusive mother and kept locked in her one-room apartment. When the children of London start to be evacuated to the country because of the peril of bombing raids, Ada wastes no time and escapes onto the trains. When she arrives in a country village, Ada is fostered by Susan Smith and so begins her road to recovery and finding her own identity. However, lurking in the background is the threat of the mother who she escaped.

Non-Fiction

Good night stories for rebel girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Goodnight stories for rebel girls

This is a book of pure inspiration for all girls. Containing 100 stories about extraordinary women from the past and the present and their remarkable achievements.

This video provides some background information from the authors, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, about why they put together this book. Anyone who is concerned about gender equality and the obstacles facing our daughters should watch this video:

Find your tribe

Find your tribe

This book is a guide for teenage girls. It provides all sorts of advice about surviving high school and the adolescent years. In particular, Rebecca’s advice about choosing to hang out with good friends and about being a good friend is so important for girls who often find themselves in toxic relationships that cause a lot of angst.

Stargirl

 

Posted in Books & Reading, literacy, Read Like a Girl, Reading, Teaching and Learning, YA Literature

Help Girls Read

Help Girls Read

Help girls succeed by igniting a love to read

The importance of reading

Educators and parents alike know that reading literature can be transformative.  Research supports this assertion and validates the importance of story reading to brain development and academic success (Haven, 2007; and Krashen, 2011).

Australian teenage girls’ reading is on the decline

Disturbingly, research conducted last year in Australia found that among Australians aged 14+, “the proportion of men and women reading books has decreased in recent years, most noticeably among women. In 2010, 64.7% of Australian women 14+ read a novel in any given three months, a figure which has since fallen to 60.9%. Similarly, fewer women are reading non-fiction books than they used to, slipping from 39.2% to 34.2% between 2010 and 2015” (Roy Morgan Research, 2016).

Let’s do something about this

As a Teacher-Librarian in a girls’ school, this research is of concern to me and I wanted to do something that would make a difference to the girls in our community. A key strategy for making this difference is to focus on reading and literature promotion.

After collaborating with other passionate colleagues in the teaching and book worlds, the Read Like a Girl movement was established.

Read Like a Girl is a community partnership for the literacy advancement of girls and is a combined endeavour led by Mt Alvernia College and St Rita’s College.  Riverbend Books is a community partner in this project.  This project encapsulates a calendar of reading events aimed at instilling a foundation and love of reading in the college communities and more broadly among girls everywhere.

What we hope to do

We hope that through our calendar of events, we will give the girls in our communities the opportunity to:

  • Attend book events
  • Meet authors
  • Purchase books
  • Participate in conversations about literature, reading, and storytelling
  • Network with other girls, women, and people who value reading and academic success
  • Develop their knowledge of the vast world of books and the opportunities literacy creates

What you can do

You can support this endeavour in practical ways by:

  • Attending our events (starting with the International Women’s Day Breakfast)
  • Spreading our vision by following us on social media (#RLaG) and sharing our advocacy with your own networks
  • Purchasing books for the girls in your life
  • Speaking positively about reading
  • Providing time and space for the girls in your life to read
  • Model reading – visit a bookstore, put your feet up and enjoy a great read

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References

Haven, K. F. (2007). We’ve reached the research results. In Story proof: The science behind the startling power of story (pp. 89-122). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Krashen, S. (2011). Free voluntary reading. Denver: Libraries Unlimited.