Once upon a Book Week: a real page-turner

Every year, the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) invites schools and students to explore another world of possibilities within the pages of books – and this year was a real page-turner! The 2022 theme, Dreaming with eyes open, celebrates nature and Australian children’s authors with a focus on First Nations people and their rich, story-based culture. 

"When I heard that this was the theme, it reminded me of what Albert Einstein said about imagination," says College Principal Mr Charleson. "He said that imagination is more important than knowledge because knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand while imagination embraces the entire world and all there will ever be to know and understand. This is what reading does for us from our very earliest experiences of sitting beside someone we love with the pages of a book open in front of us. It really is dreaming with your eyes open.' 

The theme was vividly illustrated by Australian author and teacher, Jasmine Seymour.

Dreaming with eyes open
Artwork created by children's author and illustrator Jasmine Seymour

At BAC, today was the conclusion of one glorious week celebrating all things ‘books.’ The week's program of activities started with the traditional BAC Book Parade. A favourite time of the annual Primary calendar, parents always drop by to watch the parade of story characters, often a reflection of their own creative activities in the weeks preceding the big event.

The costumed figures spark waves of nostalgia among observers, intergenerational conversations about favourite books, and the imagination of every single child and adult: aptly summed up in dreaming with eyes open!

“The Book Parade is about encouraging students to read and engage in books and characters – and letting their imaginations go wild! They step into that character for the day, which is exhilarating,” says Primary LRC Coordinator Lyn Weir.  

Other Book Week activities this past week have included special guest readers who visited children in classrooms and stopped by to read a story to anyone who felt like it in the shade of the Prep buildings at lunchtime. It really demonstrated how books can be read anywhere, anytime, by anyone. 

The program of events culminated in the conclusion of the Premier's Reading Challenge, in which students were encouraged to read as many books as possible between 9 May (for Prep to Year 9 students) and today. Students were encouraged to choose from a range of fiction and non-fiction books suited to their ability. With the last of the reading records coming in today, we are seeing an impressive level of interest in books from BAC students. In an astonishing effort of independent reading, Year 3 student Abhisri read a total of 2003 books during the Challenge!

Congratulations to everyone who discovered, rediscovered, or indulged in their passion for reading. It really goes to show that you’re never too young (or old) to pick up a book!

Premier's Reading Challenge
Year 3 student, Abhisri, read 2003 books during the Premier's Reading Challenge this year

Thank you, guest readers, for showing our students your love of books, too. Readers over the past week were chosen for the connection they have to the College community:

1.     Shanyn Cantrill – past student, parent
2.     Jess Cameron – past teacher, concert director
3.     Carol Bacon – retired teacher
4.     Sandra Harman – retired teacher
5.     Damon Quick – deputy principal
6.     Mrs Hedges – Primary school teacher
7.     Bridie and William – College captains
8.     Mrs Moaga – Secondary receptionist
9.     Mr Jackson – Secondary teacher

Students have been listening to some of this year's CBCA shortlisted books, written and illustrated by Australians. These books will soon be added to our library for students to borrow, says Year 1 teacher Ms Lowrie, whose belief about the power of books on young lives led her to source the books and organise many of the activities for 2022 Book Week.

“Reading is a skill we take great care in nurturing in Year 1. We want students to see reading as a fun way of learning interesting things, another form of entertainment, and a tool for developing their vocabulary so that they can express themselves in different ways.”

Did you know? Facts about the benefits of reading

Educators find that early reading has long-term social and academic benefits for children. Parents reading with children from a young age stimulates their brain development and strengthens the parent-child bond. The higher level of language and literacy gained by reading becomes fertile ground for the development of higher-order thinking skills, powers the imagination, boosts self-expression, increases an individual’s understanding of their own thoughts and feelings, and makes them more comfortable and familiar with other people’s emotions. Researchers have found that when 30 or more books are present in the home during early childhood, children will achieve higher scores for literacy in the Year 3 NAPLAN test (adjusted for socio-demographic factors).

Great ways to foster reading at home

There are several things parents can do to foster reading at home:

  1. Ask your child questions about what they are reading
  2. Read aloud and encourage your child to read out loud to you – make sure reading is fun
  3. Ask your child what they think will happen next
  4. Let your child see you read – books, recipes, newspapers, web pages, messages
  5. Browse bookstores together
  6. Visit the local library and let your child choose reading books
  7. Let younger children hold books as you read and help you turn the pages 

“This year’s Book Week and accompanying theme Dreaming with eyes open remind us that reading is much more than just about learning to read and write. In the same way that First Nations people pass their learnings from generation to generation, we learn about life through stories, including those from the Bible. Stories teach us how to be in the world today. Thank you to all of those involved in Book Week 2022,” said Mr Quick, Deputy Principal, Primary.

Mrs Moaga reads during Book Week 2022
Mrs Moaga reads to students at lunchtime
Lunchtime reading during Book Week 2022
Mrs Hedges reads to students at lunchtime
Lunchtime reading during Book Week 2022
College Captain William reads to students at lunchtime
Book Week 2022
Mr Quick reads to students during Book Week
Book Week 2022
College Captain Bridie reads to students at lunchtime