Updated: Mar 18
There are 2 events each year that are highlights for us at Learn From Play – National Simultaneous Storytime and the CBCA Book Week and this year I received the most wonderful Book Week gift. A present which has changed forever how I will view this annual event in the Australian Literary Calendar.
Each year, since 1945, the Children's Book Council of Australia has brought together children and books to celebrate Book Week. A time for schools and libraries to celebrate Australian children's literature. In schools, pre-schools and libraries this is most often celebrated with a “book parade”. An event where children select a book and dress up as a character from that story. As a nod to multimodal storytelling some schools also allow students to dress up as movie characters.
I remember these fondly from my own childhood and the years of assisting my children with their costumes. As a teacher it reminds me of the many times I have had to sticky tape and staple together costumes that haven’t survived their wearer’s boisterousness. The mayhem as students running around fretting that their metre tall witches hats had been dented on the bus trip to school or their bright blue face paint had smeared onto their best friend’s pristine white t-shirt as they hugged each to other that morning.
Yet this Book Week it was not me up to my armpits in glue and cotton balls but my sister. I was so amazed and honoured this week when my sister decided to dress my nephew as Fred from Frugal Fred. This book was written to teach children about being environmentally conscious. The benefits of reducing, reusing, recycling and repurposing and I did not in my wildest dreams think that anyone would make a costume to go with this book. But the pictures speak for themselves.
My sister, an artist and passionate mother wanted her son to have a one-of-a-kind costume. While she could have easily dressed him in any of the dozen of superhero costume he regularly enjoys playing in she made this amazing mask and found the cutest red vest I have ever seen. What an amazing gift to receive and what an eye opener.
I finally understand something about Book Week that I have never understood before. For me book week was always about exposing students to new books. Sharing a love of reading. Literacy based art and craft, games and a morning tea with the school community. But this year it was different.
This year I saw how Book Week is a celebration for authors. A chance to see the difference they can make in young children’s lives and that of their parents. How having students come dressed as characters other students are not familiar with can create a new interest in a book previously unknown. For me it was about the ability for this pre-school to share a book with their children that they did not know existed but which will be the cornerstone of future environmental education lessons.
This is what Book Week is all about. Sure it is about finding a winning author, activities and a lot of fun but it is also about the sharing of stories and messages in books. The joy of having written a book people care enough about to make a costume to celebrate it. Thank you Es for making this the best book week I have ever had.