Mrs Allen and I had the enormous privilege of attending a literature conference where we were taught and entertained by a panel of authors and illustrators including Leigh Hobbs, Australia’s Children’s Laureate who was the keynote speaker. As Australian Children’s Laureate, Mr Hobbs champions the role of libraries and books in nurturing the creative life of a child.
We watched Illustrators such as Mark Wilson, Kyle Hugh-Odgers and Leigh Hobbs demonstrate their skills in a session called 'Illustrators in Action’. We were in awe as Jeannie Baker showed us how she uses natural materials to create the most amazing collages. The panel shared their journey in researching, writing and illustrating books. Some of the simplest books can take two years or more to write. We came away from the conference determined to continue to promote stories and aim to develop a love for reading in our students.
Children and books go together in a special way. A book can be a magic gateway into a wider world. It is a privilege and a huge responsibility we have been trusted with to bring to the uncluttered, supple mind of a child the delight of knowing God and the many rich things he has given us to enjoy including language. This is every parent, teacher’s and library officer’s privilege and books are his keenest tools.
Take all the words available in the human vocabulary and read them from the dictionary and you have only a list of words. But put those words into a certain order and they can speak to us. The Bible says:
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).
God wants us to use words with creativity and imagination. We are to use words wisely. Every child ought to know the pleasure of words so well chosen that they awaken sensibility, great emotions, and understanding of truth.
Developing a love for reading in the early years is a lifelong lasting gift. Reading and sharing stories help your child become familiar with words, it develops their vocabulary, stimulates their curiosity and sparks their imagination.
Author Jane Yolen (1977) is a particularly eloquent spokesperson for the contributions of literature to a child’s development:
Just as the child is born with a literal hole in its head, where the bones slowly close underneath the fragile shield of skin and hair, just so the child is born with a figurative hole in his heart. Slowly it too is filled up. . . . What slips in before it anneals creates the man or woman that child grows into. Literature, folklore, mythology—they surely must rank as one of the most important intrusions into the human heart.
The theme for Hobbs’s two-year term as Australian Children’s Laureate was ‘to champion creative opportunities for children, and to highlight the essential role libraries play in nurturing our creative lives’.
'Libraries have played an enormous role in my life', Hobbs says. 'Reading and exploring history and art is something I have been able to do because of libraries. I’m passionately interested in histories and cultures and I hope that through my work I can encourage children to explore and experience these things too.'
Mrs Allen and I will continue to seek out good books, to read and enjoy with your children.
Helen Lakstins | Library Officer/Special Needs Coordinator