May 23

ETL402 Assessment Item 2: Part B – Reflection

My early blog and discussion posts in ETL402 demonstrated a superficial understanding of how children’s literature could be used in classrooms and the school library. I made some vague suggestions for how my favourite picture book for older readers, Hello Lighthouse, could connect to geography or history (Murphy, 2020, March 15). I linked two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander books to the Australian Curriculum (Murphy, 2020, March 22), and analysed the postmodern devices used in Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer (Murphy, 2020, March 15).

But I never truly grasped the potential of this literature until I revisited a reading from Module One about the enormous body of research behind the power of stories.

We rely on stories like we rely on air, water, sleep, and food.” (Haven, 2007, p. 4)

I began to explore the earlier chapters of Haven’s book (2007), and after my initial confusion when putting together the first assessment (Murphy, 2020, March 31), started to see the broader benefits of children’s literature, above and beyond the improvement of reading and writing skills. Literary learning, for me, became all about harnessing the incredible potential of all types of stories to hit every part of the curriculum. It became about learning with and through books, learning about ourselves and others, about our emotions, and making sense of our world (Haven, 2007; Ross Johnston, 2017, p. 80).

In my current role as Library SSO, I am learning to apply my growing knowledge of children’s literature from Module Two and Three. For example, I made two successful book recommendations (Murphy, 2020, May 14) using what I know about children’s developmental stages and finding ‘goodness-of-fit’ (Travers & Travers, 2008). On a third noteworthy occasion, I took on McGill-Franzen and Ward’s advice (2018, p. 154), recommending a series fiction title to a middle-primary teacher for her class novel (Murphy, 2020, March 28). We ended up choosing The Magic Finger instead, something her class had never seen before. Since then, a number of her students have come to the library asking me where they can find the Roald Dahl books! This certainly demonstrates that providing exposure to a rich variety of literature is important (McDonald, 2013, p. 8). Choosing from series fiction, or the individual works of a popular author, is only scratching the surface!

I moved into Module Six questioning how we could put literary learning into practice in a more structured and accessible way, unlike my vague suggestions early in the subject. Literature Circles caught my attention as they featured as a research method in many of the articles about graphic novels I had been reading in my other topic, EER500 Introduction to Educational Research. I chose to explore Literature Circles in depth and wrote a discussion post that built the foundation for my work in the third section of Part A of this assessment, Literature Circles in History (Murphy, 2020, May 14).

Moving forward, with literary knowledge and skills under my belt, I feel confident enough to encourage teachers to use children’s literature more often in classrooms, and justify why it is important. I am excited by the prospect of children’s literature in the digital environment, and the incredible potential of book apps, transmedia storytelling, and multimodal learning experiences. Most of all, I am simply looking forward to reading more kids’ books.

Bibliography (APA 7th)

Blackall, S. (2018). Hello lighthouse. Hachette Australia

Dahl, R. (2016). The magic finger. Penguin Random House

Tan, S. (2013). Rules of summer. Hachette Australia

References (APA 7th)

Haven, K. F. (2007). Story proof: The science behind the startling power of story. Greenwood Publishing Group.

McDonald, L. (2013). A literature companion for teachers. Primary English Teaching Association.

McGill-Franzen, A., & Ward, N. (2018). To develop proficiency and engagement, give series books to novice readers. In D. Wooten, B. Cullinan, L. Liang & R. Allington (Eds.). Children’s literature in the reading program: Engaging young readers in the 21st century, (5th ed., pp. 153-168). Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.

Ross Johnston, R. (2017). Australian literature for young people. Oxford University Press.

Travers, B. E., & Travers, J. F. (2008). Children’s literature: A developmental perspective. John Wiley & Sons.

May 14

Try This Book

Reflect on your own and your professional colleagues’ knowledge of literature. Identify an occasion when you successfully connected a book with a child or group of students and how your knowledge of the book facilitated this process. Identify possible opportunities for a teacher librarian to respond to this research within the library and beyond to support teacher colleagues.

On 9 March, I completed my own Stocktake of Children’s Literature. I highlighted the day-to-day rigours of teaching as a barrier to building knowledge of children’s literature over the past seven years. And, pinpointed the Redwall series, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Treehouse series, and Weirdo, as some of the few children’s books that I have some knowledge about.

Already, just two months on, my knowledge of literature has expanded significantly. I have taken on one of the strategies identified in my Stocktake of Children’s Literature – I’ve been reading a whole heap of kids’ books from my library. I’ve read four of the graphic novels in the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi. I’ve read Birrung the Secret Friend by Jackie French. I’ve been reading George and the Great Bum Stampede by Cal Wilson as part of my support sessions with a student. Not to mention the selection of picture books which are great to read over my half hour lunch break!

One particular series, Dragon Blood Pirates by Dan Jerris, was donated to the library in Term 1. I read the first of the six books, to give myself an idea of the language level and content. Early this term, a student came to the library searching for ‘a chapter book’. He also specified ‘adventure’ as a favourite genre. My knowledge of Book One, Death Diamond, facilitated my successful connection of student-to-book in this instance. I told him about our new series of six chapter books about pirates and he seemed happy with the recommendation at the time.

A side note: this first pirate book reappeared in the returns trolley soaking wet!

Another time, late in Term 1, I accompanied a parent and his son as they wandered through the shelves. Eventually, we came to the Minecraft-themed graphic novels. I knew this boy liked Minecraft, so I recommended this title, and even the parent’s eyes lit up!

Many classroom teachers do not have much knowledge of children’s literature (Cremin, Mottram, Bearne & Goodwin, 2008, p. 458). This is reflected in conversations with teachers at my school. I’ve learnt that they remember books they read when they were a kid, but aren’t as knowledgeable about today’s popular titles. As such, teachers need more support in matching books to their students (Cremin et al., 2008, p. 459). The TL can provide this support by making recommendations to teachers during planning, or during class visits to the library. I’ve been filming a weekly video providing a glimpse into all the new books that are coming out at the library. While aimed at students, this is also handy for teachers as it gives them an idea of what is popular and what they might like to read.

BUT, the TL shouldn’t be doing all the work! According to Akins, Tichenor, Heins, and Piechura (2018, p. 66), teachers who read children’s books themselves will be more able to support their students’ reading journey. Recommendations and summaries from the TL might not be enough! The TL must encourage teachers to actually read books suitable for their students’ range of abilities. Perhaps, the TL could run a competition between the teachers? The teacher who reads the most children’s books within a category wins a prize … or something similar.


Akins, M., Tichenor, M., Heins, E., & Piechura, K. (2018). Teachers’ knowledge of children’s literature: What genres do teachers read? Reading Improvement, 55(2), 63-66. Retrieved from

Cremin, T., Mottram, M., Bearne, E., & Goodwin, P. (2008). Exploring teachers’ knowledge of children’s literature. Cambridge Journal of Education, 38(4), 449-464. doi:10.1080/03057640802482363

May 5

Theoretical Stance on Literature Teaching

Reflect on your personal theoretical stance and how this is evidenced in your practice.

Beach, Appleman, Fecho, Simon, Hynds, and Wilhelm (2011, pp. 6-9) outline three primary theories of learning – Transmission Theories, Student-centered Theory, and Socio-cultural Learning Theory.

I certainly disagree with the practices associated with Transmission theories, especially in the literature space. Simply ‘knowing’ things about literature ignores the magic of reading and the many ways that different people experience different stories. Furthermore, it is hard enough already to get kids motivated to learn without forcing ‘knowledge’ down their throats. Students must have more of a say in what and how they learn, otherwise, it’s an uphill battle!

So, I like to think a mixture of Student-centered Theory and Socio-cultural Theory is a better way to go. We need to rejig school work so that students have more choice in the what and the how, and ensure that they have a chance to collaborate, communicate and learn with their peers.

In my current role as a Library SSO, I don’t do any ‘teaching’. Therefore, it is difficult to note how my theoretical stance plays out in practice. Simply reflecting here, though, means that if I took some small groups to examine literature, I would put on my student-focussed, socio-cultural glasses when planning.


Beach, R., Appleman, D., Fecho, B., Simon, R., Hynds, S., & Wilhelm, J. (2011). Teaching literature to adolescents. Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.

April 27

Supporting Transliteracy Practices

Think about your library. What evidence is there that the library supports transliteracy practices? What do you think could be done better? Make a note of your ideas and revisit these at the end of this module.

On first inspection, I believe my library has a framework in place to support transliteracy practices.

Our school has a strong focus on the Lexile reading program. Students learn to read and practice comprehension using the quizzes. We use the Seesaw app in the junior school, and Google Classroom in the primary years, which act as a bit of a gateway to a range of digital tools.

Also, STEM lessons take place in my library. Students use Chromebooks and a range of apps during these sessions, which require a great deal of interaction across different platforms. Students use different tools, as well as take handwritten notes at times. They’re also encouraged to use different digital tools for individual research projects.

What could be done better? I think the library’s online presence must be improved. We are using Oliver version 3, which is a huge limitation. But students don’t really know how to search for the books they want. And no student has placed a hold on a book in the last 3 years. I think that once the online presence improves, students will be able to interact more with each other, and access a wider range of tools that enhance library-related learning.

April 20

Bookish Apps for Kids

Existing stories can be told in highly relevant and new ways using book apps. Evaluate the impact of this trend on the teacher librarian’s role in schools.

In his article, Top 10 Book and Bookish Apps for Young ChildrenHaughton (2015) outlines a range of apps suitable for children of a young age. For example, ‘Tinybop: The Human Body’, where users navigate around the inside of a human body. I can remember looking at a big book called The Human Body in primary school. It had little people managing each of the different body systems and parts. Without actually checking out this app, I can imagine that this would truly bring this big book to life!

Another app that captured my interest was ‘Miximal’, an interactive version of the classic 3 sector book. Coincidentally, I only just catalogued a dinosaur-themed book with 3 sections at the end of last term. Again, it would be engaging for students to read this sort of book using a digital app.

I agree with KatStasiak’s (2011) argument that a fair balance of traditional and electronic media is important; both worlds have their pros and cons. As such, while the traditional print medium is still important for a TL, a knowledge of digital apps that tell traditional stories in new ways can expand curriculum delivery and engage our students.

Furthermore, since interactive media presents educators with a chance to empower kids and prepare them for an increasingly digital future (Cullen, 2015), TLs must begin to integrate digital storytelling with traditional practices. Although, I don’t actually think that all of Haughton’s applications were necessarily useful for a TL. The integration should be justified!


Cullen, M. (2015, December 21). How is interactive media changing the way children learn. In EducationTechnology. Retrieved from

Haughton, C. (2015, January 4). Top 10 book and bookish apps for young children. In The Guardian. Retrieved from

KatStasiak. (2011, May 21). iTots: True digital natives [Slide presentation]. Retrieved from

April 10

Censorship of Children’s Literature Collections

How have your various roles based on your age, family background, societal position, religious beliefs and profession influenced your stance on censorship of children’s literature collections?

I have a grand total of 52 days working in a school library. So far, I haven’t taken a lot of notice of the books that have been added to the collection because they’ve been part of the school’s standing order subscriptions. I have just trusted that they’ve selected appropriate books for primary school kids.

Just this week I came across a book called The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead. It came to my library in this month’s standing order from Scholastic. The story is about two parents who divorce, and the father gets married to his new boyfriend. I immediately wondered – would there be any challenge to this story? It was the first time I really thought about censorship through a professional lens.

My childhood was very sheltered. I was taken to church every Sunday, and taught traditional middle class Australian values by my teacher parents. But as I moved into adolescence, I felt more and more like I’d been blocked out of parts of my world and I was worse off because of it. Books were one avenue for me to find out about sensitive issues; I think that it is important for kids to have opportunities to learn about society and values, otherwise they’ll be like me, inexperienced in adult situations. Ultimately, therefore, my stance on censorship is fairly lenient. I do wonder if that will change if a serious challenge is made to a book in my library.

April 5

Matching Developmental Stages to Children’s Literature

In helping children with selections, can you explain why age alone is an inadequate guide? How does knowledge about a psychosocial perspective of development help an adult in advising book selection for a particular child?

On its own, age is not an adequate guide to help children with selections because children bring their whole selves to a reading experience. Physical, cognitive, social and cultural influences have an impact on children’s development, and these influences may be stronger, or weaker, or non-existent, or balanced, for any given child at any given time (Travers & Travers, 2008, p. 9).

The biological, psychological and social development of a child will influence their interests and potential for engaging with a story (2008, p. 13). The adult can consider the child’s developmental level to match with the child an appropriate book.

Can you give specific examples of the match between goodness-of-fit and appropriate literature?

Goodness-of-fit refers to the match between developmental level and appropriate literature (2008, p. 9). Last year I read A Song Only I Can Hear by Barry Jonsberg (2018).

Throughout the story, the main character is developing his identity, so this text would have goodness-of-fit with a child entering Erikson’s Identity v Identity Confusion stage of development.

I’m wondering if Bren MacDibble’s The Dog Runner would have goodness-of-fit with a child in the Intermediate years of Erikson’s Industry v Inferiority developmental stage.

Children become curious about adventure and exploring the world around them at this stage (2008, p. 11), so the adventures of Ella and Emery might be of interest to them.

How would you explain the manner in which developmental psychology helps teachers and librarians and parents to understand the child’s response to literature?

Children at a certain stage of development will respond to books that match this stage because that’s what their bodies and brains are working through at that time in their life.

Can you identify the themes of several of the stories mentioned in this chapter that reflect the ideas of particular theorists?

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and John Green’s Looking for Alaska have prominent themes of good versus evil, suicide and identity, that reflect Erikson’s psychosocial stage of Identity v Identity Confusion.


March 28

Knowledge of Multicultural Literature

To what degree does your knowledge of multicultural literature enable you to support your teachers in implementing the essential knowledge, understandings and skills for this priority area?

With Australians looking more frequently to their closest neighbours strategically, politically and culturally, a greater understanding of the region is important moving forward. As such, Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia has been established as a Cross-curriculum Priority in the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2010 to present-a). The General Capability of Intercultural Understanding is closely linked to this priority because students are required to develop an understanding and respect for other cultures (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2010 to present-b).

Off the top of my head, I don’t think I have a great knowledge in this area. My multicultural reading experiences are very limited as I tend to focus my reading through a more local lens.

I know that we have a range of multicultural texts in the library at school, particularly in the picture book section. On my last pass through its contents, I saw a range of books with depictions of Asian cultures on front covers, and many of those books have passed through the circulation desk.

This is definitely an area I would need to work on to support my teachers!


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2010 to present-a). Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia. In Australian curriculum: F-10 curriculum. Retrieved from

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2010 to present-b). Intercultural understanding. In Australian curriculum: F-10 curriculum. Retrieved from

March 22

Knowledge of Australian Indigenous Literature

To what degree does your knowledge of indigenous literature enable you to support your teachers in implementing the essential knowledge, understandings and skills for this priority area?

After living in Port Augusta for six and a half years, where approximately fifty percent of the population identify as Aboriginal, I have an interest in Aboriginal culture, including literature. When I reflect upon my experiences in different classrooms, however, I can’t remember seeing a lot of examples of Indigenous literature being readily accessible to the students.

Despite my interest, my own knowledge of Indigenous literature is fairly basic, so I will need to do some research in this area to support my teachers.

This is what I do know:

We have a Series Box in our library filled with Aboriginal Dreamtime books. These books can help teachers to address OI.2, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities maintain a special connection to and responsibility for Country/Place, and OI.3, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have holistic belief systems and are spiritually and intellectually connected to the land, sea, sky and waterways (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2010 to present). They highlight the spiritual connection Aboriginal people have with their environment.

We also have a number of recent Indigenous titles, such as Coming Home to Country by Bronwyn Bancroft, and Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy, which address, in particular, OI.6, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples live in Australia as first peoples of Country or Place and demonstrate resilience in responding to historic and contemporary impacts of colonisation, and OI.9, the significant contributions of Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the present and past are acknowledged locally, nationally and globally, as well as the Organising Ideas mentioned above (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2010 to present).


Bancroft, B. (2020). Coming home to country. Richmond, Victoria: Little Hare Books

Murphy, J. & Kennedy, L. (2016). Welcome to country. Australia: Walker Books Australia


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2010 to present). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. In Australian curriculum: F-10 curriculum. Retrieved from

March 15

Postmodern Picture Books

The postmodern picture book I chose to examine was Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan.

The book tells the story of two boys playing together in summer. They have a set of rules to follow, and as the younger of the two boys continues to break the rules, the story gets darker and darker.

Postmodern Devices

Open-ended conclusion – Postmodern picture books won’t have a happy or conclusive ending (Turner, 2014, p. 53). In Rules of Summer, although the boys seem to resolve their argument, the scary characters from the summer are stuck to the wall behind the couch, staring down at them, creating a residual feeling of unease. The final spread depicts one of the dark birds from the story, wrestling with the orange crown. The ending is inconclusive, with questions raised rather than answered.

Multiplicity of meaning/ambiguity – I found three pathways in the story. There was the story of the younger boy, who doesn’t follow the rules. Then there is the story of the older boy, who has created the rules and seems to be much more aware of the consequences than his counterpart. Finally, the arc of the birds, who seem to have their own story. The meaning of the story is not immediately obvious, and open to interpretation, which is a feature of postmodern picture books (Atken, 2007, p. 3).

Multiple focal points – There is a bird to find on each spread in Rules of Summer. Naturally, this causes the eye to wander over the pictures, searching. As with much of Shaun Tan’s work, there is a lot to look at, multiple focal points, a feature of postmodern picture books (Atken, 2007, p. 2).

Juxtaposition – Although the book depicts the two boys enjoying their summer break together, each spread has an element of darkness present. So, the fun of summer is juxtaposed against the darkness of the older boy’s rules.

Connections to pop culture – Flores-Koulish and Smith-D’Arezzo (2016, p. 350) mention the connection between children’s popular culture and postmodern picture books. I certainly wouldn’t call Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds children’s pop culture! But, you can see the connection when the younger boy is locked in a small metal bubble and the birds arrive!


Hitchcock, A. (1963). The birds [Motion picture]. United States: Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions

Tan, S. (2013). Rules of summer. Sydney, NSW: Hachette Australia


Atken, A. (2007). Postmodernism and children’s literature. ICCTE Journal, 2(2). Retrieved from

Flores-Koulish, S. & Smith-D’Arezzo, W. (2016). The three pigs: Can they blow us into critical media literacy old school style? Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 30(3), 349-360. doi:

Turner, C. (2014). Opening the portal: An exploration of the use of postmodern picture books to develop critical literacy and contribute to learning in the Australian Curriculum: English. Literacy Learning: Middle Years, (1), 52-61. Retrieved from