ETL 402. Literature Across the Curriculum

As an experienced primary and secondary school teacher I considered ‘Literature Across the Curriculum’ to be an extension of the literacy I incorporated into my teaching programs and planning. However, after working my way through Module 1 I soon realised literacy and literature were two totally different concepts, and the considerable scope of literature and the significant opportunities new technologies offered teacher librarian’s and teacher’s to reshape the way in which narratives are presented to and received by students, so they continue to construct meaning in their lives (Kerlin, 2014, Blog, Module 1). When working through Module 1(2014) I came to realise how digital technology and mobile devices had significantly impacted on the format and content of student’s fiction and reading experiences, and changed the nature of literacy across the school curriculum and libraries, especially with the introduction of E-books, iPads, and multimodal platform like Clickview (Madej, 2003; ETL 402, Overview and introduction to children’s literature). I found Elizabeth Bird’s (2011) article especially interesting regarding Literature Apps as Apps are a large part of my school’s curriculum texts as the students utilise iPad technology throughout the school curriculum (p. 26).

Ensconced in my History teacher world, I realised I had missed out on the cascade of new fiction genres that the students had embraced with such enthusiasm, particularly dystopian (Hunger Games series), Steam Punk, sophisticated/YoungAdult picture books and graphic novels (The Arrival & Maus), the blending of horror and romance such as the Twilight series, and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) themes which are so relevant to our 21st century world and an important consideration of school library collections (ETL402, Module 2, 2014). Such a variety of genres and formats allow teachers/teacher librarians to diversify their students’ reading experiences and expand their understanding and interaction with the literary world, as the students move on from traditional linear plots and narrative closure, to preferences for hypertext narratives or digital literature where they can interact with the text and direct their own content or direction (Unsworth, 2005, p.1).

Multi-cultural literature, whole literature programs and curriculum reading environments have become popular with school curriculums and teacher librarian’s with the introduction of the Australian Curriculum’s cross curriculum priority areas, which provide the opportunity for the integration of literary programs incorporating critical, multi and visual literacies and transmedia story telling into learning area curriculums to promote an engaging and enriching literary experience for the students (ETL402, 2015, Assignment 2; Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2014). History: Overview. Cross curriculum priorities).

I have acquired considerable knowledge and learning from completing the modules of Literature Across the Curriculum and particularly enjoyed Joyce Valenza’s Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians revised (2010 ) which I have included on my Blog and includes inspirational gems for future teacher librarians like myself, such as always explore new ways to promote and celebrate reading, make learning an engaging and colourful experience, and lead through strong vision, excitement, engagement, and enthusiasm.



Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2014). History: Overview. Cross curriculum priorities. Accessed 23 January 2015 and retrieved from:

Bird, E. (2011). Planet APP. School Library Journal, 57(1), 26. Retrieved from

ETL402 Literature Across the Curriculum. (2014). Assignment 2. A case for literary learning.

ETL402 Literature Across the Curriculum. (2014). Module 1. Overview and Introduction to Children’s Literature. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website:

ETL402 Literature Across the Curriculum. (2014). Module 2.Diversity in Children’s Literature. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website:

Kerlin, J. (2014, December 22nd). Literature Across the Curriculum. [Web log post]. Retrieved from:

Madej, K. (2003). Towards digital narrative for children: from education to entertainment, a historical perspective. ACM Computers and Entertainment, 1(1).  doi: 10.1145/950566.950585

Unsworth, L. (2005). E-Literature and On-Line Literary Resources: Engaging ‘Net-Age’Children with New Forms of Literary Texts. 1-4. Retrieved from:

21st Century Teacher Librarianship – a revised manifesto

An interesting posting by Joyce Valenza on her School Library Journal Blog. December 3rd 2010.

Well into the 21st century, it is clear that the concept of modern teacher librarian practice is not clear. There is no textbook for what effective practice looks like in continually morphing information and communication landscapes.
In the past few years many of us have re-imagined school library for learners using the array of new tools and abilities in front of us today. And in my humble opinion some aspects of emerging practice are non-negotiable.


● You explore new ways to promote and celebrate reading. You are piloting/equipping learners with both traditional, new, and emerging book formats–downloadable audio books, Playaways, Kindles, iPads, Nooks.
● You share ebook apps with students for their iPhones, droids, and iPads and other mobile devices (Check out Gale’s AccessMyLibrary, School Edition)
● You market, and your students share, books using social networking tools like Shelfari, Good Reads, or LibraryThing.
● Your students blog or tweet or network in some way communicate and reflect about what they are reading
● Your desktop screensavers promote great reads, not Dell or Apple or HP.
● You link to available free ebook collections using such tools as Google Books, International Children’s Digital Library.
● You review and promote books in your own blogs and wikis and other websites.
● You embed ebooks on your websites to encourage reading and support learning.
● You work together with learners to create and share digital booktalks or book trailers.

Information Landscape

● You know that searching various areas of the Web requires a variety of search tools. You are the information expert in your building. You are the search expert in your building. You share an every growing and shifting array of search tools that reach into blogs and wikis and Twitter and images and media and scholarly content.
● You open your students to evolving strategies for collecting and evaluating information. You teach about tags, and hashtags, and feeds, and real-time searches and sources, as well as the traditional database approaches you learned way back in library school.
● You organize the Web for learners. You have the skills to create a blog or website or wiki or portal of some other type to pull together resources to meet the specific information needs of your learning community.
● You make sure your learners and teachers can (physically & intellectually) access developmentally and curricularly databases, portals, websites, blogs, videos, and other media.
● Your Web presence reflects your personal and professional voice. It includes your advice and your instruction. You make learning an engaging and colorful hybrid experience.
● You think of your web presence as a knowledge management tool for your entire school. It includes student-produced instruction and archived (celebrated) student work, handouts, policies, and collaboratively built pathfinders to support learning and research in all learning arenas. (Checkout Pathfinder Swap for examples.)
● You help learners put together their own personal information portals and Knowledge Building Centers to support their research and learning, using widgets, embedded media, and personal information portals like iGoogle and NetVibes and wikis and Google Sites.
● You intervene transparently in the research process online while respecting young people’s need for privacy.
● You work with learners to exploit push information technologies like RSS feeds and tags and saved database and search engine searches relevant to their information needs.
● Your own feeds are rich with learning content, evidence of your networking. You embed dynamic widgets (including your own database widgets) wherever students live, work, and play.
● You integrate dynamic interactive features in your library’s website–Google calendars, RSS feeds, delicious bookmarks, photo galleries, online presentations, blogs, surveys, polls, as ways to interact with and teach students.
Communication and publishing and storytelling
● You know that communication is the end-product of research and you teach learners how to communicate and participate creatively and engagingly. You consider new interactive and engaging communication tools for student projects.
● Include and collaborate with your learners. You let them in. You fill your physical and virtual space with student work, student contributions—their video productions, their original music, their art.
● Know and celebrate that students can now publish their written work digitally. (See these pathfinders: DigitalStorytellingTools and DigitalPublishingTools)
Collection Development
● You expand your notion of collection.
● Though you want to offer learners choice, you no longer strive for the standard catalog, long-tail, just-in-case approach. In tight times, with shared catalogs and easy online purchasing, a just-in-time approach may be more effective. You build your own collection collaboratively, with an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the available collections around you.
● Your collection includes: ebooks, audiobooks, open source software, streaming media, flash drives, digital video cameras, laptops, tripods, RSS feeds, and much more! And we should seek effective, federated approaches to ensure these diverse formats and platforms are equally and seamlessly accessible.
● You involve your community in collection building using interactive polls and web-based suggestion forms.
● You understand that library is not just a place to get stuff, it is a place to make stuff, collaborate on and share stuff. Not a grocery store, but a kitchen!
● Your collection–on- and offline–includes student work. You use digital publishing tools to help students share and celebrate their written and artistic work.
Facilities, your physical space
● You know your physical space is about books and way more than books. Your space is a libratory. You welcome, and create space for, media production—podcasting, video production, storytelling–producing and presenting.
● You welcome and host telecommunications events and group gathering for planning and research and social networking.
● You cope with ubiquity. No, you learn to love it. Ubiquity changes everything. In one-to-one schools, students may visit the library less frequently. In such environments, in all modern, truly relevant environments, library must also be ubiquitous. Library MUST be everywhere. Librarians must teach everywhere, in and outside of the library.
● You realize you will often have to partner and teach in classroom teachers’ classrooms. One-to-one classrooms change your teaching logistics. You teach virtually. You are available across the school via email and chat.
● You know that laptops can actually walk back to the library for its space and additional resources in all formats.
Access , Equity, Advocacy
● You are concerned about a new digital divide: those who can effectively find quality information in all media formats, and those who cannot.
● You are concerned about a new digital divide: those who have access to the new tools for creation and publishing and those who do not.
● You consider just-in-time, just-for-me learning as your responsibility and are proud that you own real estate your students’ desktops and mobile devices 24/7.
● You grapple with issues of equity. You provide open source alternatives to students and teachers who need them. You lend flash sticks and laptops and cameras and . . . You ensure your students can easily get to the stuff they most need by using kid-friendly terms and by creating pathfinders.
● You ensure that all students have access to readings appropriate for their differentiated needs and offer books in a variety of formats.
● You know that one-to-one classrooms will change your teaching logistics. You realize you will often have to partner and teach in classroom teachers’ classrooms. You will teach virtually. You will be available across and outside the school via email and chat.
● You don’t stop at “no.” You fight for the rights of students to have and use the tools they need. This is an equity issue. Access to the new tools is an intellectual freedom issue.
Audience and collaboration
● You recognize that the work your students create has audience and that they may share newly constructed knowledge globally on powerful networks,. You help them see that they have the potential to make social, cultural, and political impact.
● You recognize that learners may share their ideas and participate in dialogues beyond the walls of the library or classroom.
● You exploit the cloud as a strategy for student collaboration, sharing and publishing.
● You share with students their responsibilities for participating in social networks.
● You see teleconferencing tools like Skype as ways to open your library to authors, experts, book discussion, debates, and more. Consider starting by examining Skype an Author Network.
● You use new tools for collaboration. Your students create together, They synthesize information, enhance their writing through peer review and negotiate content in blogs and wikis and using tools like GoogleDocs, Flickr, Voicethread, Animoto and a variety of other writing or mind mapping and storytelling tools.
● You help students create their own networks for learning and extracurricular activities.
Copyright, Copyleft and Information Ethics
● You teach students to care about their own digital footprints–and monitor them using people search tools.
● You encourage students to develop academic–NOT invisible–digital footprints.
● You teach students about norms for appropriate behavior in wikis and blogs.
● You model respect for intellectual property in a world of shift and change. You encourage and guide documentation for media in all formats.
● You lead students to Web-based citation generators and note-taking tools to guide them in these efforts.
● You recognize and lead students and teachers to the growing number of copyright-friendly or copyleft portals.
● You understand Creative Commons licensing and you are spreading its gospel.
● You encourage learners to apply Creative Commons licenses to their own creations.
● You are revising and expanding your notion of Fair Use in line with the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. You say “yes” a lot more. You know that in their creative remixes and mash-ups, students may use the copyrighted works of others in their own work without asking permission under certain conditions. You are discussing transformativeness with students and faculty.
● You use a tool for reasoning whether a proposed use is Fair Use. (Tool for reasoning Fair Use.pdf)
You ask students to ask these two questions when they are using the copyrighted work of others in their own media:
1. Did the unlicensed use transform the material taken from the copyrighted work by using it for a different purpose than that of the original, or did it just repeat the work for the same intent and value as the original?
2. Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of the copyrighted work and of the use?
(From the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education)
New Technology Tools
● You consider iPods and iPhones and iPads learning tools as storage devices and reference sources. You know that when you interrupt a student she might be (or may soon be) in the middle of a chapter, recording a podcast, transferring data, taking audio notes. You establish classroom or library academic guidelines and norms for use of personal mobile devices during the school day.
● You know this is only the beginning of social networking. Students will get to their Facebook accounts through proxy servers and their mobile devices despite any efforts to block them. You plan educationally meaningful ways to incorporate student excitement for social networking. You establish classroom or library academic guidelines and norms for their use during the school day.
● You consider your role as info-technology scout. You look to make “learning sense” of the authentic new information and communication tools used in business and academics. You figure out how to use them thoughtfully and you help classroom teachers use them with their classes.
Professional Development and Professionalism
● You seek professional development that will help you grow even if it is not offered by your school district. Even if you don’t get PD credit. You can’t “clock” these hours.
● You build your own personal/professional learning network using social networking tools
● You guide your teacher colleagues in setting up their own professional learning networks.
● You read both edtech journals and edtech blogs, not just the print literature of our own profession.
● You follow selected educators, experts, authors, etc. with microblogging apps like Twitter
● You use Twitter to mine realtime chat about your professional interests. You use hashtags like #tlchat and #edchat
● You learn by visiting the webcast archives of conferences you cannot attend.
● You share your new knowledge with others using social bookmarking tools like Delicious and Diigo.
● You set up feed readers to push the blog of experts and educators you respect to you on a regular basis.
● You join a social network for instance:Classroom 2.0, TeacherLibrarianNing, English Companion, NCTE Conference Ning, ISTE Ning, and Future of Education.
● You are contributing to the development of a new brand for our profession. When your students move on to the next library, they are going to expect visionary service and instruction and caring, helpful relationships.
Teaching and Learning and Reference
● You are figuring out how to be present for your learners and teachers 24/7, at the point of the instructional, research, or communication need. With computers in every classroom and every home, heck with computers in every pocket, how are you going to share your wisdom and collaborate?
● You understand that learning can (and should) be playful.
● You understand that learning should be authentic.
● You understand that learning can be multi-modal, media-rich, customized to the needs of individual learners.
● You know the potential new technologies offer for interaction–learners as both information consumers and producers. You understand that in this world learners have the power to create and share knowledge.
● You are concerned that, when it matters, your students move beyond information satisficing.
● You are concerned that students learn to evaluate, to triangulate information in all media formats. In an increasingly complex world, it is essential that they learn to make information decisions, to evaluate all their information choices, including books, blogs, wikis, streamed media, whatever comes next.
● You continually share new understandings of searching, and evaluation, and analysis and synthesis, and digital citizenship, and communication, integrating and modeling our new standards, dispositions and common beliefs.
● You understand that exploration and freedom are key to engaging students in a virtual environment to promote independent learning.
● You know the potential new technologies offer for interaction–learners as both information consumers and creative information producers.
● You ensure that the library provides an independent learning environment that connects students and teachers in a social, digital, community.
Into the Future (acknowledging the best of the past)
● You unpack the good stuff you carried from your 20th century trunk. Inquiry, high expectations, and information and media fluency matter no matter what the medium. So do excitement, engagement, and enthusiasm.
● You lead. And you look ahead for what is coming down the road. You continually scan the landscape. As the information and communication landscapes continue to shift, you plan. You plan for change. Not for yourself, not just for the library, but for the building and for your learners.
● You see the big picture and let others see you seeing it. It’s about learning and teaching. It’s about engagement.
● You continue to retool and learn.
● You represent our brand (who the teacher-librarian is) as a 21st century information professional. What does the information professional look like today? Ten years from today? If you do not develop strong vision, your vision will be usurped by the visions of others. You will not be able to lead from the center.
You enjoy what you do and let others know it. It’s always better when you do what you love. (And, if you don’t love this new library world, find something else to do.)
● You continue to consider and revise your vision and feed it with imagination. Think outside the box. Heck, there is no box!

Valenza, J. (2010). Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. School Library Journal. Retrieved from:



Module 3. Literature and the Collection

The Reading Bill of Rights includes eight “beliefs” that affirm every child’s right to read and what that means in the 21st century… from access to books and great stories, to the ability to analyze, interpret and understand information in the digital age.

Ted Hipple (1996) and Daniel Pennac (1999) suggest reading with subsequent book reports and reviews as part of an educational curricular context, rather than voluntary reading for pleasure, prevents children from holistically enjoying the experience of engaging with a text and immersing themselves within the story. Resulting in students becoming reluctant to read, and totally disinterested in discovering the unique and diverse world of children’s and Young Adults literature in our 21st century.
Pennac believes that by reading to children and adolescents, we (parents, carers, teachers, teacher/librarians) return to them “the gift of reading”, and suggests we invite children to read and grant them the rights and privileges that pertain to our own reading.
Here are Pennac’s Ten, which he calls a “Reader’s Bill of Rights”:
1. The right not to read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right to not finish.
4. The right to reread.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism.
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right to not defend our tastes.

In Better than Life, Daniel Pennac shares his experiences as a parent, a writer and a teacher and asks, how does the love of reading begin? How is it lost? And how can it be regained? This impressive book explores how reading aloud can ensure that a love of books begins, why it is important that children develop a private relationship with books, and what “A Reader’s Bill of Rights” can do to guarantee children value reading(1999).

As a parent, teacher and future teacher librarian, I acknowledge Hipple and Pennac present a very persuasive argument. However, book reports and reviews are only two forms of learning outcomes; the trick is to provide a balanced variety of creative opportunities for students to engage with, when they review texts read for curricular purposes.


Teacher librarian’s face challenges in the provision of e-books to students. These challenges can include the lack of exposure, experience and training by teachers, confusion over copyright, licensing dilemmas when developing e-collections, or justifying the cost of e-books in relation to the cost of print materials. However, there is an increasing trend towards digital material because:

  • E-books provide 24/7 access of traditional print content and make it available to multiple simultaneous users regardless of their physical location.
  • E-books have features such as hyperlinked information, read-aloud capabilities, dictionaries, and multiple language access instantly.
  • E-book content is never lost, damaged, or overdue.
  • E-book files can be downloaded, shared, or saved on handheld devices, flash drives, or notebook computers.
  • E-books do not take up valuable shelf space in overcrowded libraries.
  • E-books can be searched for and accessed from within the online catalog or the library’s website through hyperlinks that direct the user to the content.
  • E-books can be integrated into online bibliographies for special research projects and accessed immediately through digital pathfinders or research modules.
  • E-books can be accessed and shared by students and parents from home at any time and used to supplement instruction or homework assignments.
  • E-books with multiple language options or speech can be used by ESL students both in the classroom and at home to encourage continual language development.
  • E-books can be accessed during the summer months to extend the availability of the school library’s holdings to students and their parents even when school is not in session.
  • E-books can bring online content to students, teachers, and parents in smaller communities without public libraries.
  • Students with reading disabilities such as visual impairments can easily access online content and adjust the fonts or utilize speech software to access reading or research materials (Briscoe, 2011).

From my school library’s perspective, the school’s E-book collection is steadily increasing and students are now regularly accessing e-books for independent reading at school and from home via the school’s intranet. From a teacher’s point-of-view the opinions are divided; with many students unable to download subject e-texts due to family financial constraints, so only half of the students have the necessary texts to use in class. Interestingly, the students actually prefer to read a printed text rather than the e-text. However, teacher’s do happily admit that access to e-texts is instant, require no storage space, and all students are required to have them readily available, (in theory at least), for use in class at any given time. The jury is out on e-books as functional educational texts at the moment, but as fiction, they are a great success! 

Censorship and Book Collection

Teachers and librarians may be questioned about the value of having a particular book, and being prepared to handle these challenges requires knowledge about children’s literature and its potential to diversify the curriculum. Censorship is difficult to define, and varies according to who is defining it (Hunt, 2001), but there is often a need to understand conflicts of intellectual freedom as a process based on age, family background, society’s attitudes, religious beliefs, or profession, with the historical and cultural context surrounding a text usually affecting the level of disapproval it receives (Vandergrift, 1997, para. 9). Vandergrift challenges professional teachers and school librarians to “invite others to read, question, think, criticize, and share their own interpretations … Without this ongoing dialogue and challenge to ideas and beliefs, there is no intellectual freedom” (1997, para. 9).

As teacher librarians, we need to consciously consider both the basis of intellectual freedom in our society, and policies, especially Freedom to Read, that exist through professional associations such as ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association), together with our responsibilities as professional educators to our school communities. A very fine line to walk! 

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2014). Statement on free access to information. Retrieved from:

Brisco, S. (2011). E-books in the school library. In Polanka, S. (Ed.), No shelf required: E-books in libraries, (pp. 37-54). Chicago: American Library Association.

Elish-Piper, L., Matthews, R. W., Risko, V. J., Johns, J. L., Bass, J., Dasinger, S., Illig-Aviles, B. (n.d.). A Reader’s Bill of Rights. Analyse, Issues and Insights. Retrieved from:


Hipple, T. (1996). A review essay: ‘Better than life’. ALAN Review, 23(3). Retrieved from:

Hunt, P. (2001). Children’s literature. Oxford, UK ; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers.

Pennac, D. (1999). Better Than Life. Coach House Press. Toronto, Canada:

The Reading Bill of Rights – A Child’s Right to Read. . The Scholastic Channel. Retrieved from:

Robertson, D. (2010, Oct 21). The Reading Bill of Rights – A Child’s Right to Read . Scholastic Channel.

Vandergrift, K. E. (1997). Censorship, the Internet, intellectual freedom, and youth. Retrieved from:

Module 2. Diversity in Children’s Literature

Professional Knowledge Strategies

Some strategies to increase my professional knowledge of children’s literature are, accessing publisher’s book lists in Australia, Europe, and the USA, of recent and popular children’s and Young Adult’s literature. Another strategy would be to access the various professional and children’s choice Literary Awards in Australia as an alternative source when considering children’s literature for the school library.  Together with the student’s own book reviews, which are always a good indicator of popular trends or good reads for a certain age or year level.
For example, reading trends for 2014 at my secondary college school library were:

Year 7, Dystopian fiction such as ‘The Hunger Games’ series, and James Phelan ‘The Last Thirteen’ series & Alone trilogy.
Year 8, Robert Muchamore’s ‘Cherub’, ‘Henderson Boys’, & ‘Aramov’ dystopian series and Kirsty Murray’s ‘Children of the Wind’ series and ‘India Dark’.
Year 9, Fantasy fiction such as the ‘Twilight’ series, Cassandra Clare’s ‘The Mortal Instruments’, Scot Gardner’s ‘Book Mark Days’ girl’s fiction and the popular ‘One Dead Seagull’ and ‘White Ute Dreaming’ boy’s fiction.
Year 10, Fantasy fiction as above, and Archie Fusillo’s ‘Last of the Braves’ and ‘The Yard’.

Children’s Literary Awards

Another children’s literary award that would be useful for educational purposes is The Children’s Book Council of Australia’s (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year Award, awarded ‘to the outstanding book of the Picture Book genre in which the author and illustrator achieve artistic and literary unity, or, in wordless picture books, where the story, theme or concept is unified through illustrations’ (2007-2014, CBCA).The award is an acknowledgement of the invaluable contribution picture books provide within both educational and social contexts.

Contemporary picture books are increasingly popular among older readers, and have become invaluable for teachers to use as opportunities for student’s to make meaning of texts, and develop critical literacy learning in the Australian Curriculum.

Featured image


The top ten reasons why teachers, librarians, and parents should provide picture books for older readers are:

1. Themes are often of universal appeal.
2. Talented artists and illustrators are using picture books as public galleries.
3. Many issues dealt with require a maturity level beyond that of young children.
4. The short and appealing format makes picture books easy to incorporate into whole language or literature-based curricula.
5. Students with learning difficulties or those learning English as a second language will be able to make the visual/verbal connections necessary for successful reading and learning.
6. Picture books can serve as models for fine writing and excellent illustration.
7. Picture books can be used to introduce concepts and sophisticated ideas.
8. Students accustomed to learning visually through television and computers will adapt naturally to the picture book format.
9. The language in picture books is succinct and rich — a terrific way to increase vocabulary.
10. Those lucky students who learn to love picture books will receive a lifetime gift and will be
forever thankful (ETL 402, Module 2, School of Information Studies, CSU, 2014).

Literary Non-fiction

Biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, letters, diaries and journals, travel and exploration narratives, are all examples of literary nonfiction. In The Little Refugee by Anh Do and Suzanne Do, Anh writes with humour and compassion of his life as a refugee (Mod. 2).

Another information book which is a quality example of the genre is Son of the Revolution by Liang Heng, Judith Shapiro, (1984, isbn13: 9780006367505), and published by HarperCollins.
This non-fiction additional resource would support Year 7 students who are studying China as part of their Southeast Asia History curriculum, as it is an autobiography of a young Chinese man whose childhood and adolescence was spent in Mao’s China during the Cultural Revolution.

ETL 402, Module 2. Diversity in Children’s literature. (2014). School of Information Studies, CSU. Wagga Wagga.

The Children’s Book Council of Australia’s (CBCA). (2014) Picture Book of the Year Award. Retrieved from:

Heng L., Shapiro J. (1984). Son of the Revolution. HarperCollins Publishers.

ETL 402 Literature Across the Curriculum

Much of what we teach in schools is concerned with facts. Literature is concerned with feelings and quality of life, but Literature is also a rich engaging art form which can teach concepts and skills throughout all curricular areas.

For teacher librarians it is the reconceptualisation of the audience for children’s literature, and the extraordinary growth, great variety, and growing richness evident in the literary works intended to have children as their primary audience.

Meaning of Childhood?

Literature is a growing thing, reflecting the social realisms of a developing and increasingly demanding world. More recently the impact of technology has enhanced the access to a rich literary experience, encouraging a more positive attitude to the significant opportunities new technologies offer for reshaping the way in which narrative for children is conceived and presented, so that it continues its role of constructing meaning in their lives.

  1. Do you have a vision for the future of children’s literature?  Who will be the drivers of change?

Children’s literature today encompasses a vast range of genre, form and media which takes the reader on an imaginative excursion, reflecting, capturing, finding meaning and even creating meaning, in relation to the world we live in. Works of children’s literature are therefore changing, in tune with what our world is and is becoming. The reader’s relationship to text and the texts themselves have also been clearly expanded, and new opportunities such as phone and tablet apps exist in children’s literature to engage with the powerful images and dramatic forms of multimedia and the Internet. Literature circles, book clubs, and a range of Web.2 technologies encourage a deeper social engagement with literature thereby allowing readers to enjoy and appreciate a book more fully.

What are the key elements for a definition of children’s literature? Note them down in dot points on your blog.

Children’s literature:

  • Is distinguished by its audience, with childhood being a legally defined period from birth to eighteen years.
  • Encompasses a vast range of genre, form and media.
  • Is finding and creating meaning in relation to the world we live in.
  • Is changing in tune with what our world is, and is becoming.
  • Uses new opportunities like phone and tablet apps to engage with the powerful images and dramatic forms of multimedia and the Internet.
  • A great variety and growing richness, evident in the literary works intended to have children as their primary audience.
  • Aids the development of cognition when human minds rely on stories and on story architecture as the primary roadmap for understanding, making sense of, remembering, and planning our lives.
  • Is engaging in a great deal of interesting and comprehensible reading.
  • Can provide an interpretation of the world that children need for developing cultural literacy.
  • Also helps to develop a sense of national identity and extends children’s cultural boundaries.
  • Explores possibilities and allows us to ask ‘what if’ questions, develops children’s imagination and helps them consider nature, people, experiences and ideas in new ways.

 I really like this description of reading as the value of literature in providing knowledge and understanding:

Experiences children have with literature gives them new perspectives, making it possible to feel and live connected to the lives of others. Good writing can transport the reader to other times, in other places where they can vicariously experience historical events, adopt a character’s persona, enjoy adventures, excitement and sometimes struggle with hardships. Such experiences can bring us closer to characters of every nationality and be a potent weapon in the fight against xenophobia. Given the chance to walk in the footsteps of others, readers can develop empathy and understanding. Reading gets us out of our own time and place and out of ourselves but in the end it will return us to ourselves, a little bit different, a little changed by the experience (ETL402 Module 1, 2014).

Interestingly, teacher librarians and teachers alike encounter the reality that in general, motivation for reading tends to decline over the primary school years for the population as a whole, and reading for its own sake, and children’s perceptions of themselves as readers, declines as they get older.

Zipes (2009, p. 17) is also concerned that the  digital technologies will dull children’s senses so that they are no longer capable of being reflective or engaging in prolonged reading events, and that the dominance of design will cause images to become more appealing than words.

Reflection:  Response to Zipe.

(Critics) are not recognising or do not want to recognise that the former traditional approaches to alphabetic literacy through reading print are not meeting the needs of young people who read texts much differently than the generations of teachers and educators who are teaching them.    (p. 42)

Do you agree with Zipe’s comment? Consider the implications for your role as a teacher librarian?

  • Students prefer graphic novels to copious printed texts. Easier to read and the message is conveyed through illustrations rather than print. Graphic novels are in high demand in our secondary college and teacher librarians have recognised their appeal and value and select more for the library collection.
  • Different genres have emerged such as Dystopian, Fantasy and Horror texts that appeal more to secondary students and extend their areas of interest from their online or electronic games.
  • Students would rather read shorter fast-paced stories than voluminous novels containing dense text, and prefer well known authors of teenage books that write action packed spy thrillers such as James Whelan, or read Dystopian series like the Hunger Games or Twilight.
  • E-books are very popular and don’t take up physical space in the library and are easily accessed by students at home or on holiday. Developing an E-library is an important component of all libraries now, but especially at school where they are often used as curricular texts.
  • Magazines especially those appealing to male students usually feature particular sports, hobbies or activities that students like to read. They are more popular in school libraries now rather than non-fiction texts. Students consider them’ light reading’ and engaging.

Recent research in England suggests that opportunities for children’s and young people’s reading for pleasure may have been curtailed as a result of other curriculum imperatives. Under pressure to raise standards, there has been a strong emphasis on meeting objectives and managing the curriculum, but reasons for reading in the first place appear to have been neglected. In particular, little attention has been paid, either in research or policy documentation, to why literature still has a clear role to play in English education (Module 1, 2014).


Charles Sturt University, School of Information Sciences. (2014) ETL402 Module 1, Overview & Introduction to Children’s Literature. Wagga Wagga: N.S.W.

Zipes, J. (2009). Misreading children and the fate of the book in Relentless progress the reconfiguration of children’s literature, fairy tales, and storytelling. London: Routledge.