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.
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).
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: http://cbca.org.au/Picture-Book-Notables-2014.htm
Heng L., Shapiro J. (1984). Son of the Revolution. HarperCollins Publishers.