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

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!