It’s the last day of Children’s Book Week 2022, and I confess I haven’t read any of the books this year. I can remember when I at least read all the Older Readers books and organised activities and displays for the celebration. We didn’t have author visits because my tiny library budget didn’t allow for it. But we had displays and a lunchtime book themed trivia quiz and I encouraged kids to read the shortlisted books. One year, when the theme was “Chsmpions Read”, I got some of my Year 8 students to pose in their PE uniforms, reading books, and also photographed three on a dais with medals and books. Those photos were part of the display, and I did it because I couldn’t find photos of sporting heroes reading. It worked.
If you want to know this year’s winners, here is a link to the Reading’s bookshop site, where you can buy them if you want.
I am glad to see there is a Rebecca Lim book among the winners as I enjoy her work very much. I will get it in ebook. She lives in Melbourne!
But this post is about something else.
Book Week is about celebrating excellence in writing for young readers. It hosts about the only major award here for children’s writing - the only judged one, anyway, as there are some for kids to vote for, such as the YABBA Awards in Victoria. There used to be a similar award, the Inkys, run by the State Library’s Centre for Youth Literature, but that was closed down some time ago.
So, this is it - and even this award was nearly closed down some years ago due to lack of funds. Fortunately, it was sorted out and the awards continued.
It’s a week for celebration of all things book related. But this year I have read several whining articles and Twitter posts, by parents, about having to put themselves out once a year to make or buy a costume for that stupid costume parade. How dare the school ask them to get creative to help their children have fun! Thing is, even if you agree, it tends to have headings like “Why I’m over Book Week”.
It’s not about Book Week, it’s about one aspect of Book Week. Personally I think it would be just as much fun, or even more, for bits and bobs to be put in a corner of classrooms for kids to make their own costumes in the weeks leading up to Book Week. I was involved with the children’s program at a Worldcon once and watched kids do just this. It was amazing how creative they got. I still remember helping a young dragon to make her tail.
But it shouldn’t be about helping parents avoid encouraging their kids to read. And schools give plenty of notice. Waiting till the last minute and then complaining about the whole thing because you forgot to do it, or your duties at the office kept you too busy is not on as far as I’m concerned. It shouldn’t be about you or your convenience. Even if you do forget, there are plenty of cheap items in discount shops that can be put together to make a basic costume.
I have no doubt some of you reading this will have a horror story about your child’s school and how it messed up Book Week celebration and made your child cry. These things do happen, yes. It has to be done right or nobody will enjoy it.
Still - how hard is it for parents to support their kids in the one week a year which is about them?