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.

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!

February 29

The Future of Children’s Literature

Do you have a vision for the future of children’s literature? Who will be the drivers of change?

I wonder if Virtual Reality (VR) will play a role in children’s literature somehow. VR may sit on the video-gaming side of the fence, but what if you could retell classic stories by placing children in the book’s universe as the story is told? Would this still count as literature?

The increasing interest in graphic novels (Short, 2018, p. 290) reflect the visual culture of today’s child. I think graphic novels will become even more popular. And, perhaps, comic books!

Although there is a long way to go, I feel as though cultural diversity is starting to find its way into children’s literature. One of the books in The Little Big Book Club’s 2020 Preschool Reading Pack is called Kick with My Left Foot (Raising Literacy Australia, 2020)It is about a little boy learning to play footy in an outback indigenous community. In 2018, I read A Song Only I Can Hear by Barry Jonsberg, which touches on gender identity. I’m sure there are other examples.


Raising Literacy Australia. (2020). Kick with my left foot. Retrieved from

Short, K. (2018). What’s trending in children’s literature and why it matters. Language Arts, 95(5), 287-298. Retrieved from

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