Reflecting on Joyce’s Manifesto (2010)

At Edutech in Brisbane in 2015, I had the amazing good fortune to attend the Masterclass conducted by Joyce Valenza and Shannon Miller. At the end of the day I took the opportunity to mention to Joyce that we had used her Manifesto in ETL401. Her immediate response was… “But I need to revise that! I must get around to doing that!”

Joyce Valenza

Joyce Valenza

Apart from revealing her self-effacing approach to the world of library celebrity… this response reminds me that Libraries are organisms – changing and responding to patterns of usage – so we, too, must adapt, morph, change. So, given that this manifesto was written in 2010 in the USA, how do we respond to it with regard to the section on reading? Let’s have a look… I have copied the relevant section here and have been thinking about what it looks like for my library as we face 2016…


  • You explore new ways to promote and celebrate reading. You are piloting/equipping learners with both traditional, new, and emerging book formats–downloadable audio books, Playaways, Kindles, iPads, Nooks.

While my library does have a small group of iPads, they are not easily used to access books in various formats for students in my library. Our budget has not yet afforded us access to an eBook format but we have provided access to our local council libraries via our library management system. Our students, in 2016, have still not indicated a huge interest in having books delivered electronically and many of them are very protective of the paper format of books.

  • You share ebook apps with students for their iPhones, droids, and iPads and other mobile devices (Check out Gale’s AccessMyLibrary, School Edition)

Similarly, while we use lots of different apps for learning in our library, we do not have ebook apps available on our iPads. This is again connected to budget but also to do with the process of managing iPads for shared use in schools. iPads were not designed as multi-user devices and they come with some specific management challenges. Top of the list… how does a school pay for the apps and how do we audit that process? It is easy to dismiss these sorts of organisational hurdles and to be perfectly honest… I have resorted on a number of occasions to simply paying for apps myself rather than wrestle with school administration over how to get money into the iTunes accounts of our iPads. Ridiculous but true…

  • You market, and your students share, books using social networking tools like Shelfari, Good Reads, or LibraryThing.

Managing a social networking presence that complies with my employers Social Media Policy as well as being a manageable maintenance load for the variety of sites that my role as Teacher Librarian requires… costs a huge amount of time. Achieving an appropriate percentage of time allocated is challenging. While I have a presence on Goodreads, I currently do not share this with my students. This is one I’ll have to think about. Besides… currently completing the MEd has drastically interfered with the amount of fiction I get to read and record on Goodreads.

  • Your students blog or tweet or network in some way communicate and reflect about what they are reading

Nope… not doing this either… while my library does have a twitter account, I currently do not use this with my students. Might have to think deeper about this one and figure out what this could look like.

  • Your desktop screensavers promote great reads, not Dell or Apple or HP.

Nope… we don’t have desktop screensavers, user security means students must logout of their profiles and it resolves back to the signin page… no screensavers. Maybe this would be a good reason to instal a screen at the circulation desk… hmmm… good idea.

  • You link to available free ebook collections using such tools as Google Books, International Children’s Digital Library (See our own ebook pathfinder.)

No… not currently… I wonder if this can be achieved in our new Library Management System(LMS)? I’ve just had a response from Softlink to explain how I can turn on Google Reviews so I might look at this next.

  • You review and promote books in your own blogs and wikis and other websites.

Hmmm… I don’t currently have a book review website and probably should! Our LMS does have the capacity for students to upload reviews of books they have read but they have not yet engaged with the new system. This needs to be promoted for 2016.

  • You embed ebooks on your websites to encourage reading and support learning.

Hmmm… no I don’t… but I do now have access to the school website… it might be time to do this!

  • You work together with learners to create and share digital booktalks or book trailers.

And this one is a NO as well. In my high school library I currently have very limited access to learners during class time. Changing the model for our library has been a slow process and promises made have been reneged. For 2016 I have wangled my way into getting access to Year 7 for 1 lesson per cycle for Term 1… book trailers is part of the plan for this time.

Well… that’s quite revealing. Although we are a very busy library we do not meet the criteria that Joyce listed in 2010. This is very interesting… and much food for thought.


Valenza, J. (2010, December 2). A revised manifesto. In School LIbrary Journal. Retrieved from

Picture credit:
Used with permission

why is the study of literature important for children? ETL402 reflection

Attempting to reflect on a heavy reading load and two very challenging pieces of assessment, I find two significant ideas in particular will remain with me from this summer semester course, ETL402 Literature Across the Curriculum:

  1. the power of stories
  2. the importance of the transaction between reader and text

Haven’s (2007) evidence for the importance of story, story reading, and storytelling and its impact on the brain development and education of children, reinforced for me the imperative that the role of the Teacher Librarian in schools must be maintained and embellished. Story is an essential element of education – narrative structure is a powerful inquiry that opens up an important relationship between the role of the Teacher Librarian and the students within their school, and the possibilities of significant collaborations with teaching staff from all key learning areas – based around quality literature.

This revelation was then deepened by an exploration into the values of children’s literature:

  • literature develops social awareness – it can highlight important social and moral concerns (Harris, 1990)
  • literature offers vicarious experiences – it helps children deal with their problems
  • literature reinforces the narrative as a way of thinking (Huck, Hepler, Hickman, & Kiefer, 1976)
  • literature develops the imagination (Gaiman, 2013)
  • literature reveals literary and artistic preferences – picturebooks develop visual literacy – the power of the postmodern picturebook
  • literature provides reading for background knowledge in curricular areas
  • literature develops thinking skills

The power behind this understanding is that stories are a better (more effective and efficient) way to teach and to communicate (Haven, 2007). The bottom line here is that stories are remembered – they are a more efficient and more accurate way to support and sustain learning with a higher accuracy in recall (Haven, 2007). Better than any other way! This transaction between reader and text provides a new and powerful experience in life (Rosenblatt, 1956).

Returning to the blog posts that I have written in this course:

reminds me of just how much work is involved in getting to know our library collection and using it to support learning in my school through collaboration with classroom teachers. This is an ongoing challenge and requires diligent effort.

Also, an assumption hidden in the Marcoux and Loertscher reading (Marcoux & Loertscher, 2009) that “all Pre-K-12 classroom teachers are knowledgeable in building reading skills” made me pause for consideration. It is my view that many faculty areas do not actively participate in engaging students in reading and are unaware of the missed opportunity that lies hidden within the focus of the second assignment – the power of literary learning. The continued preoccupation with marching through a content dense curriculum without a focus on powerful and engaging literature, in a wide variety of formats and delivery methods, is a significant missed opportunity for engagement with our students.

I found the readings on Digital Literature of particular interest as we begin the 2016 school year. Budget decisions as we juggle the provision of literature in print and digital formats must be patron driven, and I continue to question the cost vs benefit of establishing eBook platforms. The challenge also continues to clarify the role of the Teacher Librarian in the acquisition of new literacies particular to the networked, hyperlinked and interactive model of communication and information transmission, and the trends in interactive media (Friedlander, 2013).

Looking forward into the 2016 school year and beyond, another challenge emerges as this course concludes… convincing staff from all curriculums that the literature we invest in has significant potential for learning in their key learning area, and student engagement, support of adolescent reading skills, development of thinking skills, use of technology for learning… and so much more… can be incorporated into literary learning if they are willing to give it a try.



Friedlander, A. (November 26, 2013) Ten trends in interactive media for children from dust or Magic, Retrieved from

Gaiman, N. (2013, Oct 16). Why our futures depend on libraries, reading, and imagination. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Harris, V.J. (1990) Benefits of Children’s Literature. In The Journal of Negro Education. Vol. 59, No. 4 (Autumn, 1990), pp. 538-539

Haven, K. F. (2007). Story proof: the science behind the startling power of story. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from EBook Library

Hogg, D. (2015a) Who will be the drivers of change? [online] Retrieved from

Hogg, D. (2015b) Key elements of children’s literature. [online] Retrieved from

Hogg, D. (2015c)  Evaluating the quality of children’s literature. [online] Retrieved from

Hogg, D. (2015d) Digging deep into the picturebook collection. [online] Retrieved from

Huck, C. S., Hepler, S. I., Hickman, J., & Kiefer, B. Z. (1976). Children’s literature in the elementary world. Harcourt: Brace, Jovanovich.

Marcoux, E., & Loertscher, D. V. (2009). The role of a school library in a school’s reading program. Teacher Librarian, 37(1), 8–14,84.

Rosenblatt, L.M. (1956) “The Acid Test for Literature Teaching.” English Journal Vol. 45 No.2 (1956), pp. 66–74.

Digging deep into the picturebook collection…

Voices in the parkThe first assignment for ETL402 – a rationale for school/library fiction collections in the form of a journal article – was a significant challenge… huge! Sure it was the time frame – getting the learning modules completed at the end of the year spent in a new school, juggling both the Teacher Librarian and Computer Coordinator roles, planning for Christmas… stress and exhaustion had taken its toll… but it was much more than these factors that pushed down on getting this assignment finished and submitted. This assignment resolved itself into a difficult question – how well do you know your Picturebook Collection and does it have a place in a high school library? To be honest I ended up spending more time on that question than the assignment.

In the three years of being in school libraries, I must admit I have developed a bit of a soft spot where the Picturebooks are concerned. I’d found myself falling in love with these books, their authors and illustrators, and wishing hard that high school teachers would make more use of them in their classrooms – so they seemed the obvious choice for this assignment.

This might sound strange to all those who dismiss the Picturebook format as something that should be confined to the early childhood reading experience, but in the last three years I had come to realise how much the titles in this format had expanded beyond early readers and how many of these books were pitched at the middle school and young adult market… and how inviting these books were to me as a reader.

Therefore, this assignment became an opportunity to explore this section of our school library collection and wrestle with what was there… and what wasn’t there… as we make plans for the new school year and allocate budget to potential purchases. This assignment also saw me off on many sidetrack adventures as I explored the significant contributions of particular authors and illustrators, and researched the breadth and depths of their individual bodies of work in this format. I found myself coming face to face with amazingly beautiful as well as dreadfully scary images that inhabit these books and a developing appreciation for the skill required to write, draw and produce these titles.

In particular I was down rabbit holes with Gary Crew, Margaret Wild and Anthony Browne …and then the amazing range of books designated as “sophisticated”.

The counterpoint between text and image led me to explore two particularly interesting features of many post-modern picturebooks – metafiction and intertextuality.Stinky Cheese Man


The notion of destroying the illusion of a “reality” and substituting an emphasis on the book’s “fictionality” (Nikolajeva & Scott, 2006) is a feature that can lead to all manner of creativity in student writing. An excellent example of these books are those of Jon Scieszka . The best known of Scieszka’s books, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992), illustrated by Lane Smith, explores a metanarrative – the narrator appears in both the pictures and as one of the characters in the story, providing a running commentary.


Intertextuality refers to the incorporation of all kinds of links between two or more texts utilising tools like parody, irony, literary and extra-literary allusions, direct quotations or indirect references to previous texts, fracturing of well-known patterns, and so on. Intertextuality assumes the reader’s active participation in the process of decoding the text when reading. It is the reader who makes the intertextual connections. In particular, this led me to explore picturebooks from different cultures and the opportunities that they provide to learn about cultural differences exposed in these texts.

The picturebook format certainly has a lot to offer the high school classroom teacher – hopefully I have built a sufficiently strong argument to that effect in Assignment 1.


Nikolajeva, & Scott, C. (2006) How picturebooks work. New York : Taylor and Francis


Evaluating the quality of children’s literature

Reference: Rothlein, L. (1991). The literature connection: using children’s books in the classroom. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman.

Picture Bookswordle7

  • Do the pictures extend the text rather than conflict with it?
  • Are the pictures clear and easily distinguishable? Are extraneous details avoided?
  • Do the illustrations enhance the setting, plot, mood, and characterizations?
  • Will children be able to identify with the characters and the action?
  • Are the style and language appropriate for young children?
  • Do the illustrations avoid stereotypes?
  • Is the theme significant?
  • Is the concept or theme appropriate for young children?
  • Have a variety of books been chosen to reflect multicultural awareness?
  • Have books been chosen that reflect a variety of genres?

Modern Fantasy

  • Is the setting authentic and integral to the story?
  • Is the language appropriate and consistent? Does it add credibility to the fantasy?
  • Is the plot creative, believable, and ingenious?
  • Does the story blend fantasy with reality, making that which is impossible seem possible?
  • Are the details consistent with the plot, setting, characters, and viewpoint?
  • Is the element of time authentically represented?
  • Are the details so vivid that the reader becomes one with the story?
  • Are emotions conveyed honestly? Is the human condition portrayed honestly?
  • Is the reader led into new insights and understandings? Does the story contain worthwhile themes?
  • Does the story contain worthwhile themes?
  • In works of science fiction, does the story contain scientific laws, principles, and technology that give plausibility to the situations and solutions?


  • Are sensory images of sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touching created?
  • Does the poem contain figurative and alliterative language?
  • Is adequate and interesting repetition provided?
  • Does the poem flow in a natural and rhythmic manner?
  • Is the language and speech appropriate for the child’s understanding?
  • Are the words manipulated in an appealing manner to contribute to the meaning of poem?
  • Does the poem appeal appropriately to a child’s emotions?
  • Does the poem appeal to a child’s sense of humor?
  • Is there a quality of imagination so a child perceives something in a new way?
  • Does the poem have a purpose?

Realistic Fiction

  • Can the child identify and relate to the characters or situation as portrayed in the text and illustrations?
  • Is the content presented honestly and realistically?
  • Does the child have an opportunity to gain insights and understanding into problems and situations?
  • Are a variety of cultures and lifestyles represented?
  • Are the characters and actions plausible?
  • Is there a hopeful, positive, and mature approach for dealing with a problem or situation?
  • Is there enough information to allow the child to draw his or her own conclusion?

Historical Fiction

  • Are past events depicted accurately and authentically?
  • Are the details of the times portrayed accurately and authentically?
  • Do the characters reflect the values of the times?
  • Is the plot consistent with the times?
  • Is the language appropriate to the times, yet interesting to present-day readers?
  • Does the theme provide insight into and understanding of past events?
  • Does the story provide a perspective of the way in which the past affects the present and the future?
  • Are fact and fiction blended in an interesting manner?
  • Is the past brought to life?

Key elements of children’s literature

Available at:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

  • Literature written, usually by adults, and widely read by children and adolescents.
  • Narrative voice designed to target an audience of children or young adults. Developmentally appropriate – reading level, vocabulary, maturity level and cognitive pitch.
  • Can include novels, poetry (lyrical style), drama, biographies, autobiographies, short stories and essays.
  • Can be read, performed or incorporate multimodal delivery.
  • Can be in different formats such as picture books, novels, bridging books, ebooks and digital books – using a wide variety of literary devices and technology tools.
  • Often written to explore a moral concept, cultural theme or introduce new ideas.
  • Themes are often fanciful – not confined by reality – inspiration for the imagination – empowerment
  • Often influenced by how childhood is perceived by society or the dominant culture – therefore it can depict the prevailing times and attitudes.
  • Holds a memory place in people’s minds – connect adults to their childhood and the books that helped to shape them or connect them to specific memories.
  • Allows children to explore different cultures, times and ideas.
  • Influenced by the stakeholders – the industry of children’s literature. Authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, reviewers, critics, teachers, parents… and the audience i.e. children
  • Is linked to how we view childhood – can provide insight into historical approaches to children.
  • Exposure should be diverse and high quality – not prescribed by adults.
  • No guarantees about engagement for particular children – one child may engage completely while another will not engage at all. e.g. Harry Potter obsession
  • Should never forget to aim for being read for pleasure and enjoyment by children.
  • Tool for learning about literary devices.
  • Means to explore identity – to learn from – to discover.
  • Children’s literature can often be seen to have to be approved by adults for children to be able to access it… until they decide to enter a library on their own.


Edit: December 6, 2015

After reflecting on these key elements, and trying to understand the impact of children’s books being written by adults, then the importance of the role of narrative and storytelling as ways for children to make sense of their world becomes clear. Attempting to understand the role of books, and other things, as cultural tools – reflecting the differences in ‘childhood’ for those growing up in the USA vs Afghanistan (an exaggerated view). It becomes so important to me to ensure that when we choose what stories to give our children access to, that we take into consideration the kind of childhood that is revealed in those stories so that the reader can relate to the stories (Smidt, 2012). How we then intertwine access to children’s literature that is deemed to be “important” for educational purposes does provide the Teacher Librarian some challenges when collaborating with teaching staff. There is much to consider here… with the other persistent challenge continuing – how does the Teacher Librarian get involved in these decisions regarding providing access to books across the curriculum outcomes?


Smidt, S. (2012) Reading the world – what young children learn from literature Trentham Books Ltd : Stoke on Trent

Who will be the drivers of change?

Do you have a vision for the future of children’s literature?  Who will be the drivers of change?Fire girl by Matt Ralphs

The other night, a good friend, Margot Lindgren, who maintains a fabulous book review blog for children’s literature, posted a review of a new book by Matt Ralphs. Although I’m not a Teacher Librarian in a primary school, Margot’s style in writing reviews makes me return to her blog to read her viewpoint – she is forthright, eloquent and sincere in her love of children’s books. I always learn a great deal from reading her reviews.

So this particular review struck a chord with me – a strong female protagonist in a story written by a young, male author and in a genre that is very popular with readers in my high school library. I took to twitter and posted the following comment with a mention to the author and included a link to Margot’s review and it wasn’t long before the author replied…

So here we were – promoting this author’s book – no publisher in sight, no marketing department… just the author and his readers sharing our response to his book… and this is certainly no longer an unusual interchange! My point here is that social media… connectivity… is a driver of change in the world of publishing. Authors have a whole new virtual world that is open to them to engage with their readers – and not just on Twitter!

Enter the ‘hybrid author’. The author “who prefers a diverse approach to getting her[his] work out there, which means utilizing both the traditional system of publishing and also acting as an author-publisher in order to retain control and self-publish her[his] own work.” (Writer’s Digest, 2013) So in addition to the traditional means of publishing the work of authors, the Internet provides the author with choices. These choices have also affected the very nature of authorship because anyone can self-publish – anyone can find an audience – anyone can write a book and find their readers online.

The effect of connectivity and self publishing doesn’t come without its challenges, certainly, but as a driver of change? The possibilities are endless. Back in 2012, I had a group of high school girls who were significant self publishers on WattpadOne girl in particular had over a thousand followers and her collection of stories stretched to many hundreds of hours of writing… none of which was acknowledged at school! Writers will find a way… and have lots of choices in this modern, connected world.

As a Teacher Librarian who has a Twitter profile, it has fascinated me to find myself with followers who include a wide range of authors, from all sorts of genres and age groups. I have no idea how they find me – other than if they investigate the #tlchat #AussieEd #dlchat or #oztls hashtags, but it hints of the modern author’s use of connectivity to get their name out into the world of book consumers and hopefully encourage a few purchases along the way. Children’s literature is morphing and changing… interaction between author and reader is adapting and changing… genres are expanding, platforms are multi-modal… there are so many opportunities for change.



15 ways to publish student writing

Introduction to Children’s Literature

To be useful to students in a School Library, I think it’s fair that Teacher Librarians work hard at getting to know their collection… especially their fiction collection. Some of this happens by osmosis… really! Having conversations with booksellers and high end readers – and it’s amazing how much information we can pick up about genres, authors, reading trends and series. Engaging with our borrowers can lead to all sorts of valuable titbits of information.
Visiting favourite bookshops that provide short reviews of books as shelf ornamentation is another invaluable means to gather information about children’s and young adult fiction titles. One of my favourite such bookshops is Kinokuniya in Sydney – a treasure trove of children’s literature with lots of book reviews displayed to read and learn.
This leads us to another item on the Cunning Plan for 2016 – the addition of book reviews to both our Oliver catalogue and our shelves. Here’s an example of the type of information that we can add to the shelf to increase our borrowers interaction with wide reading:
Title of Book:
Author of Book:
Personal Reaction to the Book and your Reading Experience: (Prompts to get you thinking)
What did you think of the book?
What resonated with you?
Where were you most drawn into the story?
Where was your transaction with the text the most powerful?
What will you carry with you from the reading experience?
Would you recommend the book to others, and why?
Number of stars out of five stars:
Three words to describe the book: