Storytime with Jessica – Children’s Book Week

Children’s Book Week is here and at the library, in the children’s area, this is our biggest week. Why? Because it’s the culmination of the Children’s Book Council of Australia‘s Book of the Year awards (the winners were announced to kick off Children’s Book Week). It’s more than that, it’s our chance to celebrate reading, celebrate Australian authors, illustrators, and creators of children’s books, and a chance to remind everyone how important Australian stories are for Australian kids.

We encourage children to read widely, read often, read daily, read for fun and knowledge. It’s good to re-read books, it’s great to discover a new author and read every book they have ever written (or wait patiently for that second book). It’s important to read books from around the world so we learn about life and people and places from around the world.

However, this week it’s all about remembering that it’s incredibly powerful for children to read Australian books; to read about people having familiar experiences or living in familiar places…to see themselves in the books they read. It’s also great to see that you can be an Australian author/illustrator and that if that’s your passion you can follow Mem Fox, Garth Nix, John Marsden, Sarah Epstein, Aaron Blabey, Andy Griffiths, and all of the other amazing authors who are highlighted by these awards.

And then there is the chance to dress-up for Storytime, to win cool prizes in our competitions, and to read lots of great books that are new and interesting.

Since the Notable lists were announced in February you may have seen some out our review blogs, today to celebrate Children’s Book Week, my Storytime blog post is going to look at some of the winning and honour books that we didn’t get a chance to review.

The Books

Link to Catalogue record for How to Make a Bird

How to Make a Bird illustrated by Matt Ottley, and written by Meg McKinlay 

Winner – Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Picture Book of the Year award.

A moving and visually stunning picture book that celebrates the transformative power of the creative process from inception through recognition to celebration and releasing into the world. We shadow the protagonist as she contemplates the blue print of an idea, collects the things that inspire from the natural world to shape a bird. And breathes life into it before letting it fly free. It shows how small things, combined with a little imagination and a steady heart, can transform into works of magic.

This book is beautiful, like floating through a watercolour dream and building birds with your own hands. I wanted to review this book, and I’m so pleased it won, but I still don’t feel like I have enough words for it. I would simply ask you all to give it a read and then make something impossible.

Not Cute. by Philip Bunting

Honour Book – Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Picture Book of the Year award.

Quokka did not like being cute. Not one bit. This is the romping, stomping, chomping tale of one stubbornly adorable marsupial.

Quokkas don’t have much of a chance in the cute game, they are all cute. They even manage to not look like rodents enough for me to think they are cute but this quokka does not want to be cute and they go out of their way to stop people thinking they are adorable. With a funny ending and a good message about being stubborn this is a lovely story from one of my favourite Australian author/illustrators.

Link to Catalogue record for Not Cute.
Link to Catalogue record for We Love You, Magoo

We Love You, Magoo by Briony Stewart 

Honour Book – Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year – Early Childhood award.

Meet Magoo, our silly dogoo. He’s so funny. He loves to chew things, until he’s given something just for him.

I’m not a dog person, never have been so I don’t have the same deeply held love of dog books that dog lovers seem to have but this is a delightful rhyming book celebrating all of the ways that dogs want to be just like their humans and the frustrations that come with that.

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals by Sami Bayly

Honour Book – Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year – Eve Pownall award (for Information Books).

Dangerous animals get a bad rap, but this illustrated encyclopaedia helps us appreciate the incredible features of some of our more hair-raising animal species. With more than sixty of the most deadly and dangerous animals from across the world to explore, every page of this volume is more eye-opening than the last. You will learn interesting facts about these fascinating species, (many of which you won’t have even known were deadly) such as how they have adapted to survive and whether we should be threatened by these animals or appreciate them for their incredible features. Children and adults alike will pore over the breathtaking scientific illustrations of unusual animals from the geography cone snail to the wolverine, the Irukandji jellyfish to the slow loris, debating their relative dangerous features, learning about science and nature along the way.

This book, and it’s companion – The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals, are both wonderful books filled with amazing animals and information. The benefit of books like this is that you can pick them up and put them down easily or flick through for the animals that really jump out at you. It’s a great way to introduce that type of reading and non-fiction books.

Link to Catalogue record for The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals

Stickers and Questions

You may have noticed that at our Storytime sessions your Storytime person gives out stickers, and they ask your child some questions:

  • Did you do some cutting today?
  • Did you do all this colouring?
  • How did you make your hippo naughty?
  • Which book did you like? Why?
  • What colour is this?
  • Where would you like your sticker?
  • What are you dressed as today?

All of these questions are about interactions, helping children develop recall skills, question and answer skills, as well as providing a space for them to practise their interpersonal exchanges and talking to people (adults specifically) that they are somewhat familiar with in a safe environment, with their adult there, in preparation for school when their adult won’t be there.

Storytime Interactions

Storytime is broken into three sections separate sections from the perspective of interactions:

  1. Reading/Songs/Rhymes/Letter of the Week
    1. This part of the session is all about the presenter and the large group interaction. We read the books, ask some questions to the group (answered by the kids willing to put themselves out there in front of a group, or the presenter themselves), do some rhymes/songs asking everyone to move together.
  2. Craft
    1. This part is very much about the children – it’s asking them to complete a task. They have seen a finished product and we want them to aim for the same product (most of the time). Excluding those weeks when we are asking kids to use their imaginations and aren’t giving them a sample. The main interaction here is between parent and child.
  3. Stickers and Questions
    1. This is the part where the interaction narrows down to presenter and child and this is the time when the presenter is able to ask one-on-one questions and children who don’t feel confident sharing to the whole group will have their chance to share without the pressure of an audience.

It’s important to finish on the fact that if children aren’t feeling up to answering, if they are shy, if they don’t feel confident in English, if for any other reason they don’t want to, it’s okay if the child doesn’t answer. We always aim to work as much within children’s comfort zones as we can – allowing for them to have a go when they are ready.

Story Box Library

Explore more of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year highlighted books with Story Box Library.

Story Box Library is an eresource available for free with your library card.

Story Box Library (SBL) has released CBCA Book Week stories, from the Picture Book of the Year, Early Childhood and New Illustrator categories. Alongside reads by famous storytellers, CBCA Book Week story releases will also be accompanied by Auslan translations. Explore the full CBCA Book Week shortlisted titles on their website.


Today’s craft isn’t like our normal ones are, today I wanted to showcase the craft that David did – he had the theme (Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds) and then he used his imagination to come up with three displays for the library. Imagination is very powerful. In David’s case, he has the artistic skills to create something like below but first he had to learn to cut, colour, draw, trace, etc. and I would encourage you to do that with your child.

Take the theme and make something of your own, we would love to see anything you create.

It doesn’t matter if what you create looks amazing (like David’s) or needs to be explained (like if I had have done it) it’s the process that is really important. And doing it together.