Celebrating Children's Book Week with the CBCA

By Jane O'Connell

Jane O’Connell, an independent director at the Children’s Book Council of Australia, looks at how school library and teaching staff can get involved in Children’s Book Week, which will be running from 20–26 August in 2016.

Australia's Story Country Book Week Banner for 2016

Children's Book Week 2016 banner. Artwork by Shaun Tan.

Australia’s rich history of storytelling is an important part of our culture. It helps us to make sense of who we are and how we live, and the theme for Children’s Book Week 2016 captures this history beautifully. Australia! Story Country opens up a world of opportunity to engage young readers by helping them share their own stories, and enjoy the stories captured in the wonderful range of Notable and Short List Books by Australian creators.

The first Australian Children’s Book Week was held in November 1945, with the theme United Through Books, and there has been a different theme every year since then. Teachers can access the full list of themes from the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) website, and use them to create critical and creative thinking ideas for older students.

CBCA Official Book Week resources

Now celebrating 70 years of supporting and promoting the best of Australian children’s literature, the CBCA has teamed up with award-winning author and illustrator Shaun Tan to create delightful Book Week materials. The artwork in the Australia! Story Country poster acknowledges the themes from many iconic Australian picture books over the past decades, and children will love trying to spot the references to their favourite stories. It is the perfect companion to the Book Week bunting, bookmarks, stickers, and other merchandise that can be used to produce fun displays in classrooms and libraries.

The CBCA has also created the Official Book Week Handbook with exclusive information and a comprehensive notes section to help teachers celebrate the full range of stories referenced in the poster. Children of all ages — and some adults — will love the black and white outline version of the poster, which is perfect for colouring in, adding to library displays, or class activities.

There are also suggestions for activities that work well with Australian Curriculum general capabilities such as Information and Communication Technology, Personal and Social Capabilities, Ethical Understanding, and Intercultural Understanding.

Book Week in schools

With the help of the handbook, library and teaching staff can select a range of options from the 2016 Notables or Short List books for students of all reading levels to enjoy. Many libraries create a special display of Book of the Year Award Short List books suited to different age groups for students to browse and borrow. Students love to be involved with shortlisted books: some partake in challenges to read as many as they can, and others vote for their favourites to see how they compare with the judges’ decisions. 

CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2016

The presentation of the 70th CBCA Book of the Year Awards in Sydney on 19 August officially opens Children’s Book Week, which runs from 20–26 August 2016. The CBCA’s National Patron, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), will present the awards, which have become the most respected and influential in Australia.

The awards have had a profound influence on the careers of countless Australian authors and illustrators, and on the literacy levels of Australian children. Award categories are: Older Readers, Younger Readers, Early Childhood, Picture Book of the Year, and the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.

Library and teaching staff can find information about the CBCA Children’s Book Week merchandise via the CBCA website or through their local branch of the CBCA. Some information on the website is restricted to members only. Membership benefits include access to discounts on merchandise, high resolution images, branch-specific activities, and more, and it is a great way to support the vital work of the CBCA.

CBCA Short List Books 2016

Book of the Year: Early childhood

  • Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, Aaron Blabey, illust: Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press)
  • My Dog Bigsy, Alison Lester (Penguin Random House)
  • Perfect, Danny Parker, illust: Freya Blackwood (Little Hare)
  • Ollie and the Wind, Ronojoy Ghosh (Penguin Random House)
  • Mr Huff, Anna Walker (Penguin Random House)
  • The Cow Tripped Over the Moon, Tony Wilson, illust: Laura Wood (Scholastic Press)

Book of the Year: Older readers

  • The Flywheel, Erin Gough (Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • The Pause, John Larkin (Penguin Random House)
  • Freedom Ride, Sue Lawson, (Black Dog Books)
  • A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books)
  • Inbetween Days, Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)
  • Cloudwish, Fiona Wood (Macmillan)

Book of the Year: Younger readers

  • The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet, Libby Gleeson, illust: Freya Blackwood (Allen & Unwin)
  • Soon, Morris Gleitzman, Viking Books (Penguin Group)
  • Run, Pip, Run, J. C. Jones (Allen & Unwin)
  • Sister Heart, Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press)
  • Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars, Martine Murray (Text Publishing)
  • Shadows of the Master, Emily Rodda (Omnibus Books)

The Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

  • Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, Rohan Cleave, illust: Coral Tulloch (CSIRO Publishing)
  • The White Mouse: The Story of Nancy Wake, Peter Gouldthorpe (Omnibus Books)
  • The Amazing True Story of How Babies are Made, Fiona Katauskas (ABC Books, HarperCollins)
  • Lennie The Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony, Stephanie Owen Reeder (NLA Publishing)
  • Ancestry: Stories of Multicultural Anzacs, Robyn Siers & Carlie Walker (Dept of Veterans' Affairs)
  • We are the Rebels: the Women and Men who Made Eureka, Clare Wright (Text Publishing)

The Picture Book of the Year

  • Ride, Ricardo, Ride!, Shane Devries, text: Phil Cummings (Omnibus Books)
  • My Dead Bunny, James Foley, text: Sigi Cohen (Walker Books)
  • Flight, Armin Greder, text: Nadia Wheatley (Windy Hollow Books)
  • One Step at a Time, Sally Heinrich, text: Jane Jolly (Midnight Sun Publishing)
  • Suri’s Wall, Matt Ottley, text: Lucy Estela (Penguin Random House)
  • And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Bruce Whatley, text: Eric Bogle (Allen & Unwin)
Australia! Story Country Book Week Badge for 2016

Image credits

Artwork by Shaun Tan. © copyright 2016 The Children’s Book Council of Australia.

Jane O'Connell

Independent Director

Children's Book Council of Australia