The School Library Association of NSW invited me to speak about advocacy at their recent conference at the State Library of NSW. I was asked to talk about a range of topics including: the transition our school library is currently undergoing with the assistance of Kevin Hennah; the partnership with our local municipal library; the need for teacher-librarians to use social media, blogging and local media to publicise the savvy, changed place of libraries in school culture.
When my daughter discovered two of her literary heroes, Jackie French and Morris Gleitzman, were speaking at the same conference she was very keen for me to get her paperbacks autographed by the authors. When I mentioned this to Michelle Jensen, the president of the association, she went quite a few better and asked Lucy to introduce both Morris and Jackie. Her rationale, that a 10 year old reader was who our authors and teacher-librarians were serving, made sense.
Lucy did very well and the hashtag tweetstream had some very nice commentary from the delegates. She did not seek my assistance preparing, other than to have me listen to her practice. She prepared very conscientiously and I was proud of her efforts in front of 125 delegates (and her heroes).
Here are Lucy’s brief introductions:
First of all, I would like to thank Michelle Jensen for inviting me here today to introduce some of my all-time favourite literary heroes.
We all know Morris Gleitzman and adore his books. My dad’s favourite is Misery Guts, but I like some of Morris’s more recent stories.
I’ve avidly been reading holocaust fiction for the last year or so, and some of my favourite books are in the Once series, about a Jewish boy called Felix and his bossy, feisty best friend Zelda. The series tells the story of how they survive in the world of war around them.
What I like about these books and other novels by Morris Gleitzman, are that the characters, in the changing world around them, are so innocent, and sometimes think up the funniest stuff to solve their predicament.
Some of my favourites are Boy Overboard, the story of a young asylum seeker from Afghanistan, and Give Peas A Chance, a book chock-full of hilarious short stories.
I think the thing that’s the most incredible about Morris Gleitzman’s novels are that they can turn you from laughing to crying and back again, all on the same page.
My class last year found this out after a busy Term One spent studying some of Morris’s fantastic funny literature, especially Keith Shipley’s hilarious adventures in Australia.
I think we can all agree once you start reading Morris Gleitzman’s books, it’s pretty much impossible to stop!
You haven’t come here to listen to me, you’ve come here to listen to Morris Gleitzman. Can we give him a warm welcome, please!
I would like to start off my introduction to Jackie French, one of Australia’s most popular, prolific, and well-renowned authors, with a passage from one of her novels.
The houses crouched like mushrooms behind their iron railings. Matilda ran as fast as her skirts would let her, staying close to the fences, one shadow among many. The night air smelt of smoke from coal fires, and the big furnaces of the jam and tin factories. Someone was cooking sausages too. Her tummy clenched into a knot.
She’d eaten nothing since Tommy’s sandwiches yesterday. She’d told Mum the factory gave the workers dinner. It was a lie; Mr Thrattle’s cockroaches ate better than his workers. But Mum was so thin these days. Two shillings a week only bought food for one.
This passage is from my favourite book by Jackie French, A Waltz For Matilda, also one of her most popular historical fiction works and in her series telling the stories of the women of Australia.
Jackie writes across all genres, from picture books to historical fiction to humour and gardening nonfiction, and even newspaper columns!
Her amazing characters become so real they could almost be standing next to your seat, reading along beside you. Jackie has the ability to make different worlds come alive, as if you’re dancing with Nikko and Thetis in Ancient Greece, or fighting monsters with Boo at the School for Heroes.
For both adults an children, whatever you like, however good a reader you are, Jackie French is inspirational, as well as a near-perfect author.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jackie French to the stage!
I tried my best too. It seems, from the response on twitter and at the conference, that teacher-librarians are putting their shoulder to the wheel of convincing Premier Barry O’Farrell to champion the idea of one library card for all citizens in NSW that I have written about in the last six months in a number of publications, including this blog.
Here’s my brief slideshow to support the presentation about our library and advocacy.