What did she learn?

image by Mysticartdesign, downloaded from pixabay

Moons ago, in a faraway snowy land, a school librarian started her ETL 402 quest:  to develop a strong theoretical base on which to build a school library that fosters engaged readers and enhance life-long learning (Wocke, 2018, November 11).


LESSON 1: Know your readers
In the visually dominated lives of our students the screen has replaced the printed text as the main medium for communication and reading, according to  Lamb and Johnson (2010), is not done in isolation any longer (Wocke, 2018, December 19). Printed books alone, are never going to be enough again to ensure that our students are “engaged readers” and according to Hashim and Vongkulluksn (2018) this is a critical component driving student learning and long-term academic success (p. 359). They reason that engaged readers are motivated and self-regulate their reading and apply learned strategies to real-life and out-of-school reading experiences (Wocke, 2018, December 30).

Davila and Patrick’s (2010) offer advice: find out what interests your readers – do not judge their choices, but read their suggestions and facilitate their choice (Wocke, 2018, November 24). Utilising the affordances of ICT to enhance reading – by linking the reading experience to multi-media formats – expanding the reading experience to include social links, extension and exploration opportunities and personalised elements as (Cullen, 2015; Wocke, 2018, December 29).

LESSON 2: Promote
It is vital to  display and promote our collections in attractive and interesting ways. We need to organise our libraries in ways that make “browsing” easy and help students over the search hurdle (Cornwall, 2018). Kimmelman (2018) argues that uncluttered, quality collections counter choice overload and presents meaningful options to our patrons. Genrefication, for example, reduces the number of options and positively affects patron self-sufficiency and independence (Wocke, 2018, December 26). We recently implemented this by genrefication of our fiction collections and see immediate benefits for patrons and librarians. We are investigating expanding this further with our non-fiction collection and are looking at BISAC subject headings (2018) as a possible easier way of browsing than the DDC.

LESSON 3: Diversify
Librarians need to maintain diverse collections, not only in terms of genres (did this librarian fall in love with graphic novels and steampunk recently (Wocke, 2018, December 19, Wocke, 2018, November 29)!), but by incorporating cross-cultural and cross-curricular collections (Maclure, 2018, November 19). We must also expand outside of the walls of the library by including ebook and audiobook collections, even if these are not initially very popular, because it is important that we educate our communities to understand and embrace the value of multi-modal and multi-platform experiences as part of developing 21st century literacy (Horsley, 2018, December 27).

LESSON 4: Literary learning
The last lesson is one that I did not even know I needed to learn: Literary learning enhances access to curriculum content (thereby supporting student engagement and learning) through inclusion of carefully selected works of literature into content learning. Readers encounter people, places, events and situations that allow them to develop an understanding for perspectives and points of view that may be different to their own experience and understanding (Ross Johnson, 2014, pp. 477-478). I learnt many literature response strategies, such as literature circles, book trailers and story mapping with which to build links between literature and curricular content.

How did the ETL402 quest end? Hopefully never! Much has been done, much remains to do, and I realise that my learning will be a life-long quest.


Complete BISAC subject headings list, 2018 edition. (2018). Retrieved January 27, 2019, from Book Industry Study Group website: https://bisg.org/page/bisacedition

Cornwall, G. (2018, July 22). How genrefication makes school libraries more like bookstores. Retrieved December 26, 2018, from KQED website: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/51336/how-genrefication-makes-school-libraries-more-like-bookstores

Cullen, M. (2015, December 21). How is interactive media changing the way children learn? Retrieved December 29, 2018, from Education Technology website: https://educationtechnologysolutions.com.au/2015/12/how-is-interactive-media-changing-the-way-children-learn/

Davila, D., & Patrick, L. (2010). Asking the experts: What children have to say about their reading preferences. Language Arts, 87, 199-210., 87, 199-210. Retrieved from http://www2.ncte.org/resources/journals/language-arts/

Hashim, A. K., & Vongkulluksn, V. W. (2018). E-Reader apps and reading engagement: A descriptive case study. Computers & Education, 215, 358-375. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.06.021

Horsley, D. (2018, December 27). Task 1: Ebooks & reading [Blog post]. Retrieved from ETL402 201890 Discussion Forum: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_35350_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61731_1&forum_id=_143048_1&message_id=_2029004_1

Kimmelman, A. (2018). The wise whys of weeding. Teacher Librarian, 46(1), 20. Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=gale_ofa562488215&context=PC&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en

Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2010). Divergent convergence part : cross-genre, multi-platform, transmedia experiences in school libraries. Teacher Librarian, 37(5), 76-8.

Mclure, I. (2018, November 19). Thread 4: Multicultural literature [Blog post]. Retrieved from ETL402 201890 Discussion Forum: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_35350_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61731_1&forum_id=_143059_1&message_id=_2048880_1

Ross Johnson, R. (2014). Literature, the curriculum and 21st century literacy. In G. Winch, R. Ross Johnston, P. March, L. Ljungdahl, & M. Holliday (Authors), Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (5th ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Transliteracy in our library (now)

image by rawpixel, downpoaded from pixabayThis very short, “spontaneous” post is in response to the reflection exercise at the beginning of ETL402 module 5:

¨Think about ‘your’ library – as teacher librarian, librarian, teacher or public user. 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 to inform your response to the Discussion Forum task outlined later in Module 5.

My instinctive response:

  • We offer ebooks and audiobooks – exposure to multiple media
  • We offer a virtual library with 24/7 access through our libguides/website – we encourage exploration and inclusion of the digital information
  • We curate resources – print, audio and video – we encourage students to stay focused and directed in their digital actions, we provide access (and exposure) to appropriate and relevant resources 
  • We offer access to online databases, not just print resources – providing opportunity to develop digital literacy
  • We work with teachers to evaluate research skills (how to search, evaluating sources, etc.) – teaching information and media literacy

What can we do better? How?

  • By modelling transliterate behaviour
  • By raising awareness
  • By encouraging participatory behaviour
  • By publish ourselves
  • By creating opportunities to participate online in social forums, in ways that demonstrate good digital citizenship practice.

I also looked back on another blogpost I did for an earlier module on “transliteracy” (“We need to transliterate, practically” (Wocke, 2018). Here are the main points I take away from this post now:

  • Transliteracy is presented as an over-arching concept, a unifying perspective, encompassing different literacies and communication channels, capturing in essence our capacity to interact with information as both linear and non-linear message (Andretta, 2009, p. 3)
  • School libraries are in fact ideal places to develop transliterate skills, because its collections facilitate access to information sources in many different modalities: print on paper, digital print media, images, audio and video recordings, as well as access to different technological tools and platforms. Learners are exposed to a wide range of source and encouraged to investigate different media and environments (Jaeger, 2011, p. 46).
  • Teacher librarians create media- and resource rich environments and assist students in creating print, digital or multi-modal information artefacts, choosing the most suitable medium, tools or platforms, for the product. They encourage students to go beyond the ability to interact with specific modalities but includes the intentional follow through of repeated and transferred learning behaviour related to knowledge building and communication (Bush, 2012, p.5). They create opportunities, and provide scaffolding, for the development and execution of transliterate skills.
  • It is essential for the teacher librarian to be transliterate, to keep up with the development of new media and transfer skills to newer media in order to model and teach students and fellow educators. They do not teach use of a medium, but the skill to evaluate, produce, communicate, organise, encouraging higher order thinking skills and transfer of skills.

Good stuff that 😉


Andretta, S. (2009, August). Transliteracy: Take a walk on the wild side. Paper presented at World Library and Information Congress: 75th IFLA General Conference and Assembly, Milan, Italy. Retrieved from http://eprints.rclis.org/14868/1/94-andretta-en.pdf

Bush, G. (2012, September/October). The transliterate learner. School Library Monthly29(1), 5-7.

Jaeger, P. (2011, October). Transliteracy – new library lingo and what it means for instruction. Library Media Connection30(2), 44-47.

Wocke, G. (2018, March 29). We need to transliterate, practically [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2018/03/29/we-need-to-transliterate-practically/

Ebooks: yes, BUT…

Ebooks: Yes! BUT…

In my previous post Ebooks: yes or no?, I concluded “yes to ebooks”. This view was confirmed by those posted by classmates Horsley (2018) and Ali (2018) in the discussion forum, when they both argue that it is the role of TLs to make a range of literature formats available to our students and (Horsley continues) to educate our communities by developing an understanding of the value of multi-platform experiences and their contribution to 21st century literacy.

A number of readings from ETL402 Module 4 informed my understanding of ebooks and digital literature formats further:

image by Nadine Doerle, downloaded from pixabayHashim and Vongkulluksn (2018) identify “engaged reading” as a critical component driving student learning and long-term academic success (p. 359). They argue that the motivational and cognitive aspects of engaged reading reinforce each other and that engaged readers read and interpret content because they are motivated to do so. Engaged readers further learn to self-regulate their reading and apply learned strategies to real-life and out-of-school reading experiences. (How does this relate to ebooks? Keep reading…)

Cullen (2015) reasons that interactive media captivates children’s attention and allows them to engage with learning in a way that is intrinsically bound to their familiarity with technology. (Keep reading…) Utilizing the affordances of connected and digital ICT (e.g. accessibility, diversity, communication and collaboration, multi-model and non-linear, interaction, dialogue, creativity, organization, inquiry (Canole (2012, p. 84)) allow for the development of innovative forms of literature (or ebooks if you want) that engage multiple senses and encourage active learning through engagement and experimentation. Cullen sees this as an opportunity for active learners to build knowledge, allow for individual differences and provide achievement, success and progression.

In Lamb and Johnson’s (2010) exploration of the connection between literature and multi-media formats, they showed that students are extending their reading experiences, and exploring opportunities and options to include a wide range of technology tools as they explore cross-genre, multi-platform transmedia connections. In practical terms: they may read a book and then use different mobile devices and platforms to explore the topic online and discuss their thoughts on a social network.

The affordances of ICT can then be used to enhance reading in more than one way: through the connected options and opportunities explained above and through the actual features of an ebook.

image by chau_cn, downloaded from pixabayZipke’s (2013) evaluation of ebooks led her to describe the minimal ebook as including illustrations and animation, oral reading of the text, text-highlighting, built in dictionaries and foreign language translations, as well as the ability for the reader to interact with characters and objects (p. 375). Many newer ebooks make use of more advanced affordances, such as voice recognition, touch screens and manipulating (tilting and shaking) of the device (p. 375). The affordances should make reading deeper and richer and not be a distraction, in other words make good use of the medium, while still encouraging independent reading and good literacy practices:

  • the read-aloud enhances comprehension
  • text is displayed prominently, with some form of tracking option
  • word pronunciation and dictionary tools assist with decoding and vocabulary development
  • narration, animation and interactive media support emerging literacy skills (p. 377).

This is the reason I say “Ebooks: yes, BUT…”

Ebooks have the potential to motivate and engage, BUT it must be in conjunction with:

  • strong writing
  • interesting language
  • engaging subject matter
  • developmentally appropriate themes (p. 377)

Sekeres and Watson (2011) points out that the multimediacy (p. 264) of the multimedia literature formats encourages engaged reading and active audiences (p. 261). They argue that these formats of literature – ebooks and their connected environments – allow readers to develop the skills and strategies needed for the “new literacies” needed in the 21 century (p. 260).


Ali, S. (2018, December 30). Re: Task 1: Ebooks & reading [Online forum post]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_35350_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61731_1&forum_id=_143048_1&message_id=_2029004_1

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer.

Cullen, M. (2015, December 21). How is interactive media changing the way children learn? Retrieved December 29, 2018, from Education Technology website: https://educationtechnologysolutions.com.au/2015/12/how-is-interactive-media-changing-the-way-children-learn/

Hashim, A. K., & Vongkulluksn, V. W. (2018). E-Reader apps and reading engagement: A descriptive case study. Computers & Education, 215, 358-375. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.06.021

Horsley, D. (2018, December 27). Re: Task 1: Ebooks & reading [Online forum post]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_35350_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61731_1&forum_id=_143048_1&message_id=_2029004_1

Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2010). Divergent convergence part : cross-genre, multi-platform, transmedia experiences in school libraries. Teacher Librarian, 37(5), 76-8.

Sekeres, D. C., & Watson, C. (2011). New literacies and multimediacy: The immersive universe of The 39 Clues. Children’s Literature in Education, 42(3), 256-273. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10583-011-9133-4

Zipke, M. (2013). Building an e‐Book library: Resources for finding the best apps. The Reading Teacher, 67(5), 375-383. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1221





Ebooks: yes or no?

image by Perfecto_Capucine, downloaded from pixabayIs an ebook only an electronic version of a traditional print book that can be read by using a personal computer or by using an eBook reader? No, but they can be…  Is it  any digital publication that can be read on a computer, e-reader, or other electronic device? No, but some are…

O’Connell, Bales & Mitchell (2015) get it right, I think, when they say ebooks can:

  • be read or listened to;
  • can include images and multimedia elements,
  • can have tools for bookmarking and notetaking and links to related and extending resources;
  • they can be multimedia and interactive – allowing active participation (p. 196).


“Are we there yet?” Asks Rothman (2017). Not yet, answers Gray (2017).

It is a difficult decision for a school library to decide whether ebooks are really worthwhile in a school library collection. Gray says they are wonderful, he reads them all the time, but… “they have not reached the tipping point for being the best option in our school library”, but he does admit “ebooks are a question, not of if, but of when”.

Rothman remarks that the use of ebooks in school libraries are relatively new and evolutionary in nature. At the end of her research project with middle school students and Kindle ereaders, she recommends restraint until a school librarian has determined how – or whether – students will use ebooks. But how, Ms Rothman, will you determine this if you do not expose your students to ebooks? Can we really afford to sit and wait until it is all sorted out?

There are so many advantages to ebooks:

  • Never lost, damaged, late
  • Do not take up shelf space
  • Hyperlinks to dictionaries, extended content and translations
  • Ease of reading with changeable fonts and background colours, text to speech features
  • Available immediately, 24/7 and 365


  • Device needed
  • Expensive
  • Different lending models from different publishers, copyright restrictions

It is true that many students prefer the tactile experience of a book, but they need to also experience – and obtain the fluency – of reading an ebook. Our students should be exposed to new ways of perceiving text, or re-imagining text (Parks, 2010, p. 15). Surely this can only happen in the digital connected world, not through paper-based books?

So here is what we are doing at ICSZ…

We have some Kindles with preloaded content (Ms Rothman does not approve), because they are relatively cheap through Amazon and each book can be installed on 6 different devices. This is a really good option of have many copies of very popular books, book club and book competition titles available without it costing too much or taking up shelf space.

We have just joined an Overdrive consortium of local international schools. By pooling our content we should be able to have a large enough group of funds, books and students for a viable option.

Ebooks: yes or no?

Yes, because we have to expose our students to the format to enable them to become first consumers and then producers of the next level, which will hopefully fulfil all the promise Of O’Connell et al.’s definition.

The trick now is: how do we successfully promote our ebooks?



Gray, M. (2017). Ebooks: To subscribe, or not to subscribe? Connections, (101). Retrieved from https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-101/ebooks-to-subscribe-or-not-to-subscribe

O’Connell, J., Bales, J., & Mitchell, P. (2015). REvolution in reading cultures: 2020 vision for school libraries. The Australian Library Journal, 64(3), 194-208. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049670.2015.1048043

Parks, D. (2010). Transforming the library – e-books and e-buildings. In D. Parkes & G. Walton (Authors), Web 2.0 and libraries : impacts, technologies and trends (pp. 13-29). Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=alma991012588295402357&context=L&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en

Rothman, A. (2017, May/June). E-books in public school libraries: Are we there yet? Knowledge Quest, 45(5), 30-37. Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=proquest1894939174&context=PC&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en

“Where are the scary books?”…

… Joan asks as she rushes into the library between the lunch break and the beginning of the English class to check out a book for silent reading – she has about 90 seconds to pick a book. James is surrounded by classmates from his English class who are all in the library to check out books and is at least as much interested in socialising and goofing around than in picking a book.

These typical scenarios that sketch the behaviour of many students when they visit the library to choose a book to read. How can we best arrange our collection to meet Joan and James’s needs?

image by klimkin downloaded from pixabayAccording to Bendici (2018), gentrification is the reorganizing of library collections according to genre to simplify it for students to find books and to boost circulation. Instead of following traditional library practice of shelving the fiction collection according alphabetically according to the surname of the author, the collection is sub-divided into smaller sections, according to popular genres.

A study of literature on the subject of genrefication of fiction collections shows a lack of in-depth research and a number of remarkably similar anecdotal accounts about successful genrefication projects written by satisfied librarians with hands-on experience:

Are Dewey’s Days Numbered?

Genres generate renewed enthusiasm for school libraries

How genrefication makes school libraries more like bookstores

“Genrefying” a high school library: A detailed planning document

Genrefy your library: Improve readers’ advisory and data-driven decision making

All of these authors recounted patron’s behaviour similar to that sketched in my introductory paragraph, as the reasons to take this project on. They also refer to the tendency of students to “browse” similar to one would in a bookshop or to ask a librarian to locate a book, rather than use the OPAC. In our increasingly visual culture we need to plan our libraries according to patron usage, not according to systems optimised for librarians administrative loads. We need to organise our libraries in ways that help students to get over the search hurdle (Cornwall, 2018).

Kimmelman (2018) points out that small quality collections that are uncluttered make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. He applies Harris’s theory about choice overload, namely that we need strategies for presenting meaningful choices to our patrons. Genrefication reduces the number of options and positively affects patron self-sufficiency and independence.

What then needs to be done?

  1. Weed the collection if needed (don’t spend time re-classifying books that are outdated)
  2. Determine basic groupings or genres.
    Since neither Dewey nor BISAC are helpful here, librarians may use first-hand
    knowledge about their collection and circulation, or Goodread’s classifications for
    (also see what Sweeney used).Make signs and use symbols and icons where possible.
  3. Add colour-coded and/or textual labels indicating the genre
  4. Update the catalogue with new classification or sublocation, as appropriate (Cornwall, 2018).


What does it take?

  • Time. Time and effort. And planning.

What are the benefits to students?

  • Easily identifiable smaller collections of books of the same “type”.
  • Standing near your favourite book, chances are you are near other books you may like. Or with others who enjoy the same types of books as you.

What are the benefits to librarians?

  • Easier to spot gaps in the collection
  • Easier to recommend books
  • Easier to know the collection
  • Data about circulation, borrowing habits and strengths and weaknesses in the collection enhances decision-making (Sweeney, 2013)
  • Genres support “passive” readers advisory service

What are the problems associated with genrefication?

  • Finding the time and manpower
  • What to do with authors who write in more than one genre
  • What to do with books that fit more than one genre
  • Should non-fiction books be genrefied?
  • What to do with ebooks?

… not too many problems, actually


A personal observation: We jumped in and genrefied the bulk of the collection in just more than a week. It was crazy, but doable. I do think that for students it is easier to find books, I know that as librarian I find it easier to direct them and to make suggestions. Our catalogue (for unrelated reasons) does not yet provide good data, but potentially the genrefication should enable us to make data-driven collection development decisions.

How about genrefying the non-fiction collection? My fingers are itching, but I need to weed and plan really well first.


Bendici, R. (2018, May 24). Genres generate renewed enthusiasm for school libraries. Retrieved December 26, 2018, from District Administration website: https://www.districtadministration.com/article/genres-generate-renewed-enthusiasm-school-libraries

Cornwall, G. (2018, July 22). How genrefication makes school libraries more like bookstores. Retrieved December 26, 2018, from KQED website: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/51336/how-genrefication-makes-school-libraries-more-like-bookstores

Harris, C. (2013). Less is more. School Library Journal, 59(6). Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=proquest1355957640&context=PC&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en

Kaplan, T. B., Dolloff, A. K., Giffard, S., & Still-Schiff, J. (2012). Are Dewey’s days numbered? School Library Journal, 58(10), 24. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/1151777485?accountid=10344

Kimmelman, A. (2018). The wise whys of weeding. Teacher Librarian, 46(1), 20. Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=gale_ofa562488215&context=PC&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en

Minton, C. (2014, May 4). “Genrefying” a high school library: A detailed planning document [Blog post]. Retrieved from Beyond the Shelves website: https://christyminton.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/genrefying-a-high-school-library-a-detailed-planning-document/

Sweeney, S. (2013, Summer). Genrefy your library: Improve readers’ advisory and data-driven decision making. YALS, 11(4), 41-45. Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=gale_ofa337071006&context=PC&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en



The Graphic Novel Punch


image by aitoff, downloaded from pixabay

In our secondary school library graphic novels circulate 4 times more often than other fiction formats. It is clear that this is what our middle schoolers prefer to read. As librarian it is my task to be informed about and support their reading choices. This is why I chose the “graphic novel” option for my first ETL402 assignment.

Graphic novels look like books and can be fictional and nonfictional. They encompass many genres and are created for all age groups. The stories are told in sequentially presented panels, through a combination of text, pictures, symbols, dialogue balloons and sound effects. This I knew. I learnt a lot more about what graphic novels are and how they can be used in the guides from Scholastic  and CBLDF guides (“Panel Power”, n.d.;  A Guide, n.d.). What I did not realise was that while they employ standard literary devices in sophisticated ways, they require a different kind of reading than textual books – there is further decoding and interpretation of the visual aspects involved. Analysis of not only artistic elements (drawing, colour and shading), but of elements of graphical design (panel layout, perspective and lettering style), and even an understanding of cinematic conventions, are required (Goldsmith, 2009, p. 5). It soon became clear to me that I greatly underestimated this form of fiction, through my investigation I realised that by understanding graphic novels better, I was not only in a better position to support and encourage the popular reading of my students but found a way to understand their choices better.

image by aitoff, downloaded form pixabayHere is one important thing I learnt:  Digital technology is providing the impetus for our culture to become increasingly visual. Students’ daily consumption of information and entertainment is dominated by colourful, animated on-screen images, where the screen has replaced printed text as the main medium for communication. This multi-modal environment is changing the way students make meaning and requires competence in interpreting, evaluating, and representing meaning in visual form. This visual literacy is not only needed to successfully consume and produce information in the multi-modal 21st century, but provides opportunities in the classroom to create, analyse, and critique multi-modal texts (Rowsell, McLean, & Hamilton, 2012, pp. 444 – 446). Graphic novels are multi-modal texts that combine traditional literacy skills with visual literacy in a format that is acceptable to and preferred by our students (Hammond, 2010, p. 43). It is clear that these novels not only deserve a place in our library fiction collections but must be taught in our literature courses and can be used to introduce other aspects of the curriculum as well. The novels I examined in my research are excellent vehicles to introduce issues such as immigration, culture, racial identity and stereotyping.

I came across a lot of research that indicate that graphic novels can be used not only to expand literacy, but for reading motivation (of especially, but not exclusively, reluctant male readers), language learning, improved comprehension and vocabulary development (Edwards, 2009, pp. 56-58; Gavigan, 2012, p. 20; Snowball, 2005, pp. 43 – 44; etc. etc. etc.).

image by aitoff, downloaded from pixabayHistorically graphic novels did not have a good name for being serious literature, it needs to shed the stigma of triviality and the educational benefits need to be examined. Teachers and parents will need to be educated and convinced that this is “real reading”. Many graphic novels are only superficial in content and many contain explicit content and language that make them unsuitable for use in school. Teacher librarians need to be knowledgable and well-informed to make good choices when building graphic novel collections.

So, what should this teacher librarian do now that she has a much-changed view about graphic novels?

  • Read more graphic novels
  • Include more in the collection (but be careful about the selection)
  • Read more graphic novels
  • Display the collection prominently
  • read more graphic novels
  • Promote the collection through book talks
  • Read more graphic novels (get the idea?)
  • Talk to students about graphic novels
  • Talk to teachers about graphic novels
  • Conduct professional development sessions about the value of graphic novels in the curriculum

Guess what I’ll be reading over Christmas…



Edwards, B. (2009, November). Motivating middle school readers: The graphic novel link. School Library Media Activities, 25(8), 56-58. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234584435_Motivating_Middle_School_Readers_The_Graphic_Novel_Link

Gavigan, K. (2012). Sequentially smart – using graphic novels across the K-12 curriculum. Teacher Librarian, 39(5), 20-25. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-294899941/sequentially-smart-using-graphic-novels-across-the

Goldsmith, F. (2010). The readers’ advisory guide to graphic novels. Chicago: American Library Association.

A guide to using graphic novels with children and teens. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2018, from https://www.scholastic.com/graphix_teacher/pdf/Graphix%20Teachers%20guide.pdf

Hammond, H. K. (2010). The development of a school library graphic novel collection. In R. G. Weiner, R. W. Scott, A. K. Nyberg, W. T. Fee, & F. Goldsmith (Authors), Graphic novels and comics in libraries and archives: Essays on readers, research, history and cataloging (pp. 41-51). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.

Panel power: Using comics to make lifelong readers. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2018, from CBLDF website: https://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/panel-power-using-comics-to-make-lifelong-readers

Rowsell, J., McLean, C., & Hamilton, M. (20112). Visual literacy as a classroom approach. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55(5), 444-447. https://ila.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/JAAL.00053

Snowball, C. (2005, Summer). Teenage reluctant readers and graphic novels. YALS, 43-45. Retrieved from http://yaworkshop.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/graphic2.pdf










Taking stock of what I know

Personal background

I have been a school librarian now for 10 years. In the first school I worked as a librarian, I had the great pleasure to gather all the books available in classrooms form pre-K through Grade 12 and create a library. There was no budget. I had to see the head of school and get permission for every single book I bought. Almost all of the books bought were from Scholastic, on money raised by running a book fair.

In the second (and current) school I joined the secondary school library with a well-established collection – with a more than slightly British flavour. I now have a moderate to generate budget to spend according to my professional judgement.

image downloaded from pixabayWhat I read

I read (and listen to) a fair number of middle school and YA fiction in order to make book recommendations and engage with our students about their fiction reading. I am quite familiar with all the popular authors, series and titles. But I really do not have a strategy to expand my knowledge and tend to read what I like, or what is already popular.

Strategies for increasing my professional knowledge

  • Find out “who” to follow (twitter, blogs, publications & columns, RSS feeds)
  • Understand trends in reading interest, preference and choice
  • Listen to Podcasts and webinars

Paying attention to the theory and practice suggested in ETL402 seems the best of all strategies to follow.

Glad I have this opportunity, excellent leadership and a buzzing cohort to learn with.


Defining Children’s Literature

As is true of so many concepts and ideas, there are many, many different definitions of Children’s literature, some appeal, some not.

I really appreciated the format in which Jenifir Schneider (2016)  presents her “almost anything goes” definition, as well as the way she derived it:

“Children’s literature is a collection of books as old as the printing press and as new as the latest app.

Children’s literature portrays all aspects of humanity, inhumanity and non-humanity, all periods of human history and all places of this world as well as worlds beyond.

Children’s literature is poetry, fiction, nonfiction, argument, and biography.

Children’s literature includes picture books and pop-up books, paper books, plays, and digital texts. Children’s literature includes many stories and single stories, happy stories, sad stories, scary stories, mad stories, and not stories.

Children’s literature is created for and read by children, adolescents, and adults. Children’s literature is high art, extraordinary writing, and everything in-between” (pp. 18-22).image by sasint, downloaded from pixabay

I find the Library of Congress’ (2008) definition that children’s literature is: “… material written and produced for the information or entertainment of children and young adults. It includes all non-fiction, literary and artistic genres and physical formats” much more inclusive and progressive than the one in Essential of Children’s Literature, which starts off with “children’s literature is defined as high-quality trade books for children from birth to early adolescence, covering topics of relevance and interest to children through prose and poetry, fiction and nonfiction” (Short, Lynch-Brown, & Tomlinson, 2018, p. 4). “High-quality trade books”? Really? That is a very narrow outlook for the 9th edition of a generally accepted authoritative volume that was published 10 years after that of the LOC.

To be fair they do continue to admit that children’s books are now published in electronic formats and are of the opinion that: “These formats are not in competition with print books but instead offer different experiences and potentials for children to connect with literature (p.4). I wonder if they will be proved correct?

As I studied various definitions found in books, encyclopaedia, academic sources and general websites, I came to the conclusion that the definition of children – and therefor childhood is of importance. The definition should not to be too specific, actually as general as possible and should not include examples – these are illustrations or applications of a definition, not part of a definition.

The definitions offered in the forum by fellow students expanded my view. For examples Vicki’s description that children’s literature “entices children to want to read an learn” is much more positive than some views that it is meant to “educate” or “tell a moral story” (Bennett, 2018). Jae’s list includes the fact that some examples of children’s literature tells moral stories, but also lists general characteristics that the protagonists are often children, the topics are of interest to children, etc. (Clarke, 2018). Paula offers the interesting opinion that while the more general definitions provide a broad parameter, they cannot encompass the entire genre, as some works may easily fit into other genres (e.g. adult fiction) because of their complexity or because of the way they are illustrated, and warrants a rider (Callen, 2018).

All the different definitions have helped me examine – refine and expand – my own view and luckily,

I do not have to choose only one!


Bennett, V. (2018, November 17). Defining children’s literature [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Callen, P. (2018, November 16). Defining children’s literature [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_35350_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61731_1&forum_id=_143056_1&message_id=_2049644_1

Clarke, J. (2018, November 19). Defining children’s literature [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_35350_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61731_1&forum_id=_143056_1&message_id=_2053345_1

Library of Congress collections policy statements. (2008, November). Retrieved November 22, 2018, from The Library of Congress website: https://www.loc.gov/acq/devpol/chi.pdf

Schneider, J. J. (2016). What is children ‘s literature? In The Inside, Outside, and Upside Downs of children’s literature: From poets and pop-ups to princesses and porridge. https://doi.org/10.5038/9780977674411

Short, K. G., Lynch-Brown, C., & Tomlinson, C. M. (2018). Essentials of children’s literature (9th ed.). NY, NY: Pearson.

Change in children’s literature

The first readings for Module 1 was certainly interesting. What captivated me in every article I read was the authors’ attempts to understand and predict the changes that the multimedia and participatory online digital world will have on children’s literature. There seems consensus about one thing:change is inevitable  (Hateley, 2013, p. 1; Short, 2018, p. 287; Wolf, 2014, p. 416).

What will drive this change?

Technologynot for the first time

Technological advances have always contributed to changes in children’s literature: It once enabled the relatively cheap reproduction and dissemination of books and later led to the high-quality printed illustrations that today is a hallmark of children’s books.

The positive affordances of digital technology: accessibility, diversity, multi-modal, non-linear, interactive, communication and collaboration (Canole, 2013, p.89) will be driving factors in the change in children’s literature (Hateley, 2014, p. 6). These characteristics of technology, coupled with an increasingly visual culture, means our children are immersed in many multimedia experiences. Texts will become – or be supported by – interactive, visual, auditory elements (Short, Lynch-Brown, & Tomlinson, 2018, p. 228). Hateley (2014) argues that a move towards more interactive digital reading is inevitable (p. 7). The textual is now also related to the visual, the audio, the spatial, and the behavioural (Cope & Kalantzis, 2012, p. 5). Readers are engaged by a multimodal, interactive, participatory and personalized experience (Hateley, 2014, p. 10). As the iPad generation become authors and artists the creative affordance of digital technology may bring even more innovation and change (p. 11).

An important point to consider is that technology not only changes the format and appearance of children’s literature, but it changes how children read, share, discuss and analyze text (Serafini & Youngs, 2013). In 2007 already, the US National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) reported a correlation between the decline in reading and increased participation in electronic media (To Read, 2007, p. 10).

Who will drive this change?

The Marketmoney talks

My last point stressed that technology is changing children, the consumers of children’s literature. It is important that we not romanticise children’s literature but remember that this is one of the few sectors in the book market that is thriving and making money. Short (2018) links the continuing lack of cultural diversity in children’s books to market-driven trends (p. 292-3). The publishing of children’s books relies on market analysis and products will be created according to the greatest demand – this being perceived as the majority portion of the population, at the expense of minority groups and cultural diversity (p. 295). The trend of smaller publishing houses is being usurped by the larger ones, is further decreasing the variety of books in the market.


image by Pezibear, downloaded from pixabay

Student voicefor the first time

An interesting development that I picked up from Kirsten McLean’s (Nielsen Books) 2016 address is that the decisions on children are coming to play more of a role – traditionally dominated by parents) on which books families buy. As children are more active online and find books and characters (from games, film, etc.), as well as series and spin-offs, they are more actively advocating their choice and driving “a lot of decision-making” (Jarrard, 2016). An interesting development at a time when student voice and student agency is getting more attention and recognition, while online participation and social media is on the rise.

Do I have a vision for children’s literature?

I would certainly like it to always be a magical place where children can go to experience the unexperienced and dream dreams.

Children’s literature will never again be purely paper or text-based products of my youth; our culture is becoming far to visual, and our way of experiencing and interacting with information far to interactive and participatory, for this to be true.

Technology changes us – I keep thinking back to Marchall McLuhan’s ideas related to “The Medium is the Message” and wonder what the long term impact of the Digital Age is going to be on our literature, on our experiences and dreams. As always, only time will tell…


Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.). (2012). Multiliteracies: Lit learning. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/CSUAU/detail.action?docID=241994#

Hateley, E. (2014). Reading: From turning the page to touching the screen. In Y. Wu, K. Mallan, & R. McGillis (Authors), (Re)imagining the world: Children’s literature’s response to changing times (pp. 1-13). Dordrecht: Springer.

Jarrard, S. (2016, June 29). Children’s book market trends and opportunities featured at Ci4 [Blog post]. Retrieved from BTW website: https://www.bookweb.org/news/children%E2%80%99s-book-market-trends-and-opportunities-featured-ci4-33962

Serafini, F., & Youngs, S. (2013, February 7). Reading Workshop 2.0: Children’s literature in the digital age. The Reading Teacher, 66(5), 40-404. https://doi.org/10.1002/TRTR.01141

Short, K. (2018). What’s trending in children’s literature and why it matters. Language Arts, 95(5), 287-298. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/2036727382?accountid=10344&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo

Short, K. G., Lynch-Brown, C., & Tomlinson, C. M. (2018). Essentials of children’s literature (9th ed.). NY, NY: Pearson.

To read or not to read (Research Report No. 47). (2007, November). Retrieved from National Endowment for the Arts website: https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/ToRead.pdf

Wolf, S. A. (2014). Children’s literature on the digital move. The Reading Teacher, 67(6), 413-417. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1235

ETL 402: Literature across the Curriculum – the journey

INF402, my only subject for 201890, focuses on the use of literature in education – specifically to enhance student learning, long-term reading and life-long learning.

image by BookBabe, downloaded from pixabayThe learning outcomes are to be able to:

  • “evaluate a wide variety of literature, and apply such knowledge to the selection, appreciation and critical evaluation of literature in education;”
  • “analyse theory, research and models related to literature, and interpret the implications for education;”
  • “appreciate the role of multi-literacies, including visual literacy, in the context of literature in education;”
  • “predict and interpret social and cultural issues as they apply to the use of literature in education;”
  • “identify how digital environments diversify school student experiences with literature;” and
  • “extend the role of the teacher librarian in promoting literature across the curriculum.”

My knowledge about the use of literature in curricular setting is not great, but very practical. I look forward to develop a strong theoretical base from which to build understanding and insight, and plan for the role our secondary school library can play in the future use of literature in our school.