March 9

Stocktake of Children’s Literature

It sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud, but as a teacher, I never felt as though I had time to simply enjoy books in my classroom. Sure, I’ve included books as a tool for research, and taught reading using books. I set up a wicked reading corner and instilled in my students pride in keeping it tidy.

But I was rarely able to just enjoy a great book without it having a purpose beyond pure entertainment.

As such, my stocktake of children’s literature over the last seven years has been somewhat limited by the rigours of classroom teaching. I’ve had glimpses of children’s literature, of course, at Book Week, for example. I’ve seen which books get chosen to be read after lunch each day. And I’ve had kids’ books pop up in my email inbox, as part of newsletter subscriptions with publishers. But I haven’t really known what is popular, or which books have won awards.

Until now!

Having started my new job in a school library this year, I’m just starting to catch up on recent children’s literature. Humorous series, like Weirdo, or the Treehouse books, are very popular. In fact, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series box rarely has any books left in it. Books that were around when I was a kid are still there, but they don’t seem to be as popular. Books like the Redwall series, or authors like Judy Blume, or Roald Dahl.

As far as genres and formats go, I feel relatively knowledgeable on middle grade novels about sport, as I did have to do some research in this area when self-publishing my Bernard Beagle series during the last four years. I know what sorts of language, themes and structures go into books for this audience. I can also remember a couple of children’s books we studied at Flinders for my Bachelor of Education. At this stage of my library career, though, I don’t have a strong knowledge about any other genres and formats.

Some strategies I already use to keep up with children’s literature:

  • Subscriptions to publishers newsletters
  • Walking through the children’s section at book shops

Some strategies I could start to use:

  • Subscribing to other children’s literature magazines and blogs
  • Reading some more of the books held in my own school library collection

I’m actually really looking forward to Module 2! It will be great to dip into the universe of children’s literature!

March 19

Tension in the Library

Think of an occasion when you have witnessed tension between what a teacher or student is looking for and what a library collection holds.

One of the English topics I studied at Flinders University was called ‘Fiction for Young Readers’. A wide range of children’s books were listed as essential reading. Titles included the artistic Window and Where the Forest Meets the Sea, by Jeannie Baker; the wonderfully illustrated John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat, by Jenny Wagner; the well-known classics, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, and Possum Magic, by Mem Fox; and longer texts, such as Two Weeks with the Queen, by Morris Gleitzman, and Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo, by Tim Winton.

Jeannie Baker's artistic picture books

Jeannie Baker’s Window and Where the Forest Meets the Sea (Source: Author)

All of the books were available at the university bookshop. With only the meagre wages of a part-time Hungry Jacks employee in my wallet, I decided to purchase books on the list that I thought I might use in the classroom one day, or those with sentimental value. I loved Jeannie Baker’s books as a child and Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo remains one of my favourites to this day. Of course, I was able to borrow John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat from my mother, so I didn’t have to buy that one.

Two Weeks with the Queen and Lockie Leonard

Two Weeks with the Queen and Lockie Leonard (Source: Author)

For those who couldn’t afford the books on the list, or for those who wanted to save money, the books were made available at the university library. It was here that I witnessed tension between what students were looking for and what the library collection held.

With so many students enrolled in the topic, it was almost impossible to borrow them, even with a two hour loan-limit placed on them. To borrow the longer texts, you had to arrive on campus really early, or leave quite late so that the chances of a text being unavailable were reduced. And even then, other students had the same idea.

This story highlights the benefit of a multiple user model, where any number of users can access a electronic text at any given time (Kimmel, 2014, p. 57). Had the books been available to every student, all the time, there would have been no tension at all. I think that by now, almost ten years later, the system would have improved.


Kimmel, S.C. (2014). Developing Collections to Empower Learners [American Library Association]. Retrieved from