My Churchill fellowship took me to four countries over a four month period,
during which I visited over twenty different programs and more than a
dozen institutions offering a wide range of reading and writing programs
to children and teenagers. Some programs worked with the most disadvantaged
young people, while others worked with talented young people already fully
involved as critical readers and serious pursuing their interest in writing
into their adult lives.
The professionals I met during my Fellowship were without exception hospitable,
helpful and as interested in learning about Australian practise in the
field of youth literature as I was in gaining the benefits of their experiences.
Several of these colleagues offered me accommodation, and I have made
life-long friends and professional contacts that will benefit me personally
and, I hope, my professional community here in Australia for many years
To study innovations in literacy, literature and writing programs for
children and adolescents in community and educational institutions in
the USA, Ireland and UK.
The New England Young Writers’ Conference held in Vermont. This
annual conference offers over 200 American teenagers the opportunity
to work with professional writers over a four day period.
The Centre for the Children’s Book in Newcastle, England, which
opens in 2003, will provide one of the world’s best multi-functional
centres for the celebration of children’s books.
The generous staff at the public libraries in Los Angeles, Arlington
County, Virginia, and Birmingham, England, demonstrated truly innovative
public library programming for young people. Sharon Grover of the Arlington
County Library Service kindly offered me accommodation at her home.
The importance and effectiveness of access to high quality literary
programs for the most disadvantaged youth was confirmed by the LA-based
Create Now! and the Chicago program Literature for All of Us.
The children’s book community in Ireland were welcoming and generous
in their time and hospitality. Children’s book specialist Valerie
Coghlan offered me accommodation in her home.
The Fellowship gave me many new ideas for programs which I hope to establish
for children and youth in NSW over the next few years. I am currently
in discussion with possible partners to establish the NSW Young Writers’
Conference, and hope to run a pilot program in 2003.
Since my return home, I have been invited to speak to public librarians
at the State Library of NSW and to the Literature and History Committee
of the NSW Ministry for the Arts. I have also written an article on
my Fellowship for Viewpoint: On Books for Young Adults (published by
University of Melbourne) and have a forth-coming article in the Children’s
Book Council of NSW newsletter. I am hoping to travel to WA later in
2002 to address a meeting of public librarians.
When initially researching programs to visit on my Fellowship, many literature
and literacy programs for young people existed in San Francisco, however,
by the time I undertook my Fellowship, most of these programs had folded.
It appears that the focus in this city has switched to adult literacy.
Nevertheless, I had invitations to visit the Aurora Elementary School
in Oakland, and the BookPALS program, sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild,
as well as an archival collection of old and rare children’s books
at the San Francisco State University, so my time in San Francisco was
The Aurora Elementary School is a private parent-run school with a comprehensive
program offered to children from a range of socio-economic backgrounds.
I visited the school at the invitation of the school’s librarian,
Kathy Shepler, who I knew from the online children’s literature
community child_lit. Kathy had invited me to share Easter Sunday lunch
at her family home, the first of many hospitable invitations I received
during the course of my Fellowship.
I spent the day with Kathy in the Aurora Elementary School’s library,
reading selections from Australian children’s books to her classes
and fielding questions from the children about Australia. The children
were endlessly fascinated about Australia, particularly about our native
animals and remarkable environment. It was fairly clear that the children
didn’t know much about Australia beyond these aspects — and
I found this was true of children in each country I visited. They were
surprised by the physical size of our country and its relatively small
population. Many children had also seen the Olympics, and Steve Irwin
the crocodile hunter, who is very popular in the US, and so had a fairly
skewed view of Australia — we’re all fast swimmers and in
imminent danger of being eaten alive by spiders and other "biteys".
Kathy was pleasantly surprised to find how many Australian books she had
in the library’s collection, many of which she hadn’t realised
were Australian books. As at each of the schools I visited on my Fellowship,
I donated a copy of the Steve Parish book Amazing Facts About Australia
to the school library. Hopefully, the book will dispel some of the myths
about Australia that the children held to be true. Since I returned home,
I’ve stayed in touch with Kathy and helped her find more Australian
books for her library. Greater dissemination of Australian books to international
readers young and old will go a long way to better inform them of the
diversity of the Australian experience.
I also visited the Rooftop School with Tracy Heffernan, the coordinator
for the San Francisco areas BookPALS program. BookPALS was established
in 1993 and is a sponsored program of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.
BookPALS is founded on a very clear premise: children must be exposed
to the magic of books to develop a love of reading. To that end, BookPALS
sends over 1800 volunteer professional actors to read aloud to children
at public elementary (primary) schools in at-risk neighbourhoods across
the USA, helping introduce them to the world of reading and literacy.
Over 900 US schools are involved, targeting 40,000 students annually.
Tracy’s own children attend the Rooftop School, which while in an
economically disadvantaged area is strongly supported by its local and
parent community, and is clearly a vibrant, positive place for children
to be. Tracy visits the school weekly, spending time with various classes
reading to them. The intention of the program is to introduce the concept
of reading for pleasure to children at a very young age, and from witnessing
Tracy in action with the children, it is clearly having the desired impact.
The children were receptive and enthusiastic, and confident in speaking
to and asking questions of a stranger — me! I also read to Tracy’s
BookPALS classes from Magabala Books’ award winning children’s
book Tjarany: Roughtail. The universal appeal of traditional tales was
clearly demonstrated by the children’s reactions to the stories
read to them.
BookPALS is an excellent demonstration of how a non-education-based group
— in this case, professional actors — can work to support
the literacy needs of children. Not all literacy support programs need
to come from educational groups, although clearly the support of individual
schools for the program is essential to its success. Having a professional
actor, who is not seen as a teacher or authority figure, coming in to
the school to share the joys of reading supports the idea of reading for
pleasure, rather than it being a purely educational activity.
While in San Francisco I was also fortunate enough to visit the Marguerite
Archer Collection of old and rare children’s books, curated by Meredith
Eliassen at held the San Francisco State University. The Marguerite Archer
Collection of Historic Children's Literature contains a variety of books
and other materials associated with childhood, such as toys, and covers
the important trends in children's literature from 1776 to the present
day. The collection is fascinating to anyone with an interest in childhood
and specifically children’s literature. I am hoping to donate some
significant Australian children’s books to the collection.
I spent several days with the staff of the LA Public Library (LAPL). The
staff were welcoming and generous with their time and expertise, and showed
great interest in Australian children’s literature and the work
we do with young readers and writers in Australia.
The central library of the LAPL is in downtown La and there are around
70 branches throughout the Los Angeles area. The LAPL places a great deal
of emphasis on programs to improve literacy in children and adults. LA
has the highest illiteracy levels in the USA. In downtown LA, 65% of the
adult population is in the lowest level of proficiency, with 23% in the
next level. The problem is chronic, and yet the staff of the LAPL were
unfailingly determined and optimistic about the progress they were making
in improving child and adult literacy. Their programs, such as "Wild
About Reading", in association with the LA Zoo, "Read LA"
and "Grandparents and Books", which trains senior citizens to
be readers and storytellers in the children’s sections of public
libraries, are designed to encourage the literacy skills of all members
of the community.
I attended a training session of "Grandparents and Books", where
library staff gave volunteer senior citizens guidance in reading to and
with children. The "Grandparents" have a regular schedule at
one of the branch libraries, so that the children get to know "their"
Grandparent, and so feel comfortable and confident with them. The Library
has also discovered that in libraries in more affluent areas of LA, children’s
carers and nannies, many of who have little or no English, benefit from
the storytelling and reading sessions. "Grandparents and Books"
has wide-reaching benefits, not just for improving literacy, its key focus,
but in encouraging cross-generational and cross-cultural understanding.
The Central Branch of the LAPL is itself a wonderfully welcoming place
for young readers. Its children’s room is bigger in floor space
and in the size of its collection than most Australian public libraries
are in total — the Children’s Literature Department, as the
children’s section is known, holds around 250,000 books. The Children’s
Literature Department is an older wing of the library and boasts beautiful
California History Murals by the internationally recognized artist Albert
Herter — it is a most beautiful and inspiring environment for young
readers. The Department is a comprehensive resource collection emphasising
history and criticism of children’s literature, fiction, picture
books, poetry, fairytales, biographies, and Native American, Pacific Rim
and California literature. Audio tapes, videos and a large body of materials
in Spanish help to make the Children’s Literature Department relevant
to the ten million citizens living in the greater Los Angeles area.
Locally, the Department serves as a library for the downtown LA community
with the librarians making school visits, providing homework help and
working with teachers on curriculum assignments. Children are invited
to join the Reading Clubs that are formed throughout the year. Six times
a week students are welcomed from all over Los Angeles for a field trip
adventure that includes a tour of the historic Los Angeles Public Library
building and a story time in the KLOS Story Theatre, situated in the Children’s
Literature Department. Many more teachers bring their pupils on informal
visits so that children can get library cards, check out books, and use
the Ronald McDonald Multimedia Centre.
The LA Central Library also boasts an innovative centre for teenagers
called teen’scape. teen'scape was designed in consultation with
Los Angeles area teenagers and gives them a place of their own to work
on computers, hang out, study, or read. The name "teen’scape"
is meant to convey both sanctuary for and ownership by teenagers.
teen’scape enjoys a large book collection coupled with cutting edge
technology. The department has an enormous collection of young-adult non-fiction,
comic books, popular paperbacks, study aides, college and career guides,
and classic literature. Each month new magazines are added to the collection
from over 150 magazine subscriptions. It has a bank of computers dedicated
for internet usage, another for word processing and homework, study rooms
and a lounge area with a huge screen TV and music system. teen'scape also
has hundreds of videos and thousands of compact discs available for loan.
Both teen’scape and the Children’s Literature Department are
models of children’s and young adult library services in a city
that values literacy highly. Although Australian libraries do not have
the budget of the LA Public Library system, libraries here could benefit
greatly from studying the innovative services provided by this library.
Patricia Smart of the LA Times Literacy Network was welcoming and helpful
in providing information about literacy programs in the LA area. The Literacy
Network, which is supported at a high level by both government and business
groups, provides information about the circa 250 literacy programs available
in over 500 locations in the LA area. These statistics reflect the scale
of the literacy problem in LA, and the scale of the efforts to address
the problem. The Network publishes a directory of literacy services and
coordinates an annual Literacy in Media award. During my stay in LA, I
attended the LA Times Festival of Books, where I volunteered on the Literacy
Network’s stand. It was a great opportunity to meet and chat with
teachers and others involved with literacy, and to get some insights into
the work done at the coalface with children and adults.
I also had an opportunity at the Festival of Books to meet with Brein
Lopez, the curator of Every Picture Tells a Story, a Children’s
Book Art Gallery, and to view some of the artworks held by the Gallery.
I was unable to visit the gallery itself due to a combination of LA’s
poor public transport and a heavy cold I caught while in San Francisco
which saw me in bed most afternoons and evenings of the week I was in
LA, after returning home from visiting the LAPL and other programs. Brein
expressed a high regard for Australian illustrators of children’s
books, and I hope to pursue this contact for possible future joint programs.
In contrast to the many well-funded programs I visited during my Fellowship
was Create Now! Create Now! was established by one woman in response to
the needs she perceived in her community. Jill Gurr had worked in the
film and television industries in Hollywood for many years as an editor,
writer and producer. She was well aware of the difficult circumstances
many young people in the LA area live in, and felt that she wanted to
make a difference, and that she had the skills and contacts to do so.
Create Now!, originally called Write Now! was founded in 1996 and its
mission is to provide creative arts mentoring to institutionalised at-risk
children and youths, ages 2 to 21, who have been abused, neglected, abandoned
or are involved in the juvenile justice system. There are over 125,000
children who are taken from their homes per year in Los Angeles, because
of abuse, neglect and abandonment. Many of these children end up in the
juvenile and then adult justice systems. Create Now! provides a variety
of creative arts mentoring programs to thousands of these youngsters who
live in more than 50 different court-ordered residential care facilities.
Through different types of writing, such as screenwriting, TV sit-com
writing, poetry, short stories and plays, and other creative arts such
as painting, music, dance, video production, the young people involved
in Create Now! learn to express themselves in a positive manner that can
be shared with others. Professional writers, artists, photographers, musicians,
dancers, filmmakers and other creative individuals volunteer as mentors.
They encourage English skills, cooperation, self-discipline, accountability
and self-respect. The programs clearly work to enhance the children's
skills, develop self-esteem, confidence and teamwork, as I witnessed when
I spent a morning at a Create Now! workshop.
The young people involved in the program I visited were living in a residential
home for gay, lesbian and transgender teenagers who had been kicked out
of home because of their sexuality. These are precisely the kinds of youth
who are at high risk of becoming totally alienated from society, and of
losing all self-esteem. Yet the young people I met were confident, proud,
articulate and energetic — no doubt because of the good work done
by their carers, but also in no small part because of their participation
in a workshop coordinated on their behalf by Create Now! The group —
who were keen to chat to me about their lives, their enjoyment of the
Create Now! program, and to educate me about their sexuality! —
were involved in writing and creating a film about their experience of
life, working with a team made up of a professional scriptwriter and a
Jill Gurr now manages Create Now! full time, and she does so with little
substantial funding. All her mentors are volunteers, but the programs
nevertheless cost a considerable amount to run. Word of mouth and the
generosity of individuals currently sustain Create Now!, although Jill
is aware that as the program continues to grow, a broader base of funding
will need to be sought.
They key lesson to be learnt from programs such as Create Now! (and Literature
for All of Us in Chicago, discussed later) is how critical creative arts
and, specifically, writing programs can be for young people at risk and
young people living in deeply disadvantaged circumstances. At the most
fundamental level, such programs assist these young people to maintain
and improve their literacy. Beyond that, however, the opportunity to speak
and be heard, to have a voice, to express their feelings and their views
and their creativity is enormously important for their self esteem and
their confidence. The mentors they work with open a world of creative
and professional opportunities to these young people — several youth
who have participated in Create Now! programs have had genuine professional
opportunities offered to them; for example, one young woman had a filmscript
optioned by a film production company, a young man in detention was offered
a music contract. These are, of course, the "star" examples;
what should be emphasised is that all the young people involved in Create
Now! and similar programs benefit in critically important yet sometimes
In New Orleans I attended the International Reading Association (IRA)
Conference. The conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet colleagues
in the community arts, teaching, library, writing and publishing communities.
I attended many wonderful panels and talks given by US writers who I have
long admired but have had no opportunity to hear speak about their work.
It also gave me the opportunity to learn about new writers and books.
I collected a great deal of material at the conference which is proving
to be an important addition to my professional library of resource material
on matters associated with youth arts programming, teaching, libraries
and children’s literature and publishing. I would recommend to any
future Fellows undertaking a Fellowship comparable to mine to budget generously
for sending home large quantities of print material!
After the IRA conference I was welcomed into the home of Sharon Grover,
Youth Services Collection Specialist at the Arlington County Library in
Virginia. I stayed with Sharon and her family for ten days, and having
home comforts for this period of time was a welcome relief after a month
staying in hotels and hostels. In addition to her duties at the Arlington
County Library, Sharon chairs Capitol Choices, a committee which prepares
an annual list of books of excellence for children and teenagers. She
was also at the time a member of the judging panel for the Caldecott Medal,
the USA’s prestigious picture book award. Staying with Sharon afforded
me the opportunity to gain an insight into the judging process of the
Caldecott Medal and to read a wide range of US picture books.
The Arlington County Library has dedicated spaces for the children’s
collection and the young adult collection, with specialist staff and targeted
programs for the two client groups. The children’s and youth services
collections, under the guidance of Sharon Grover, are expanding the multi-cultural
and bi-lingual materials in the collection to reflect the changing demographics
of their community. I attended several storytelling and craft sessions
in the children’s library, including a bi-lingual storytelling session
for the growing Hispanic population.
The young adult staff were preparing for the up-coming summer holidays
and their summer reading program; many libraries in the US organise activities
and reading lists for the long summer holiday break. The Arlington County
Library is dedicated to involving young adults as much as possible in
their library; high school students volunteer in the library after school,
assisting with shelving and other duties. Most significantly, however,
is the Teen Advisory Board, coordinated by Sharon and other library staff
in cooperation with local middle schools (roughly equivalent to Australian
Teen Advisory Boards (TAB) operate in many libraries across the USA, with
the Arlington County Library’s TAB considered as one of the country’s
premier examples. The philosophy of the TAB is to involve the clients
of the young adult library in the selection and peer recommendation of
books in the collection. TAB reading groups are organised in the local
schools, and library staff visit these groups and facilitate the discussion
of books. Towards the end of the school year, each TAB reading group nominate
their favourite books, and the most popular are labelled as TAB Selections.
Readers in the library thus know that these books are recommended by their
Funding for the program comes from both the Friends of the Arlington County
Library and from the participating schools; both groups contribute $3000.
This money goes to purchase multiple copies of titles selected by the
library staff from the nominations for the American Library Association’s
Best Books for Young Adults. Books for TAB reading groups are also selected
from review copies sent by publishers, and students frequently nominate
other titles as well. While the purpose of the Tab is to select new titles
to add to the library’s collection, students are not deterred from
discussing "old" books they are enthusiastic about.
I had the great pleasure of attending a TAB reading group on the day they
were making their final votes of the books they had read over the previous
school year. The students took the voting process very seriously, and
clearly appreciated the opportunity to actively contribute to their library’s
collection. They also enjoyed my Australian accent and the opportunity
to taste Vegemite!
Sharon and I travelled into Maryland where we addressed a group of Library
Science students from the University of Maryland. I spoke to them about
library services in Australia, with a focus on children’s and youth
services. Although not a librarian myself, I have worked closely with
children’s and youth services librarians during my time working
on the NESTLÉ Write Around Australia program at the State Library
of NSW. It was an important opportunity to exchange ideas and information
about Australian libraries with US practitioners.
The Arlington, Virginia is very close to Washington DC. I met with Jane
Gilchrist of the Library of Congress’ Children’s Literature
Collection. Jane gave me both an overview of the Collection, an important
historical collection of USA children’s literature, and a personal
guided tour of the Library of Congress, including some areas not open
to the general public such as the Congressman’s Reading Room.
I also spent half a day in the Oyster Bi-lingual School, the only bi-lingual
elementary school in Washington DC. I was welcomed into a third grade
classroom where I read Australian children’s picture books, including
Possum Magic and selections from Tjarany: Roughtail. I also had the opportunity
to meet with executive staff from the school and exchanged information
about literacy and reading programs in Australian and US schools. Like
the schools I visited in California, the Oyster Bi-lingual School is very
much a family and community-driven school, and programs are designed to
meet the specific needs of the community and is highly regarded as giving
unique educational opportunities to its students. Just prior to my visit
to the school, it was featured on local news programs when parents camped
overnight in the schoolyard in order to enrol their out-of-area children
for the forthcoming new school year.
The next stop was Vermont and the New England Young Writers’ Conference.
Prior to the Conference, I was the guest for two nights in the home of
Elizabeth Bluemle, the owner of the Flying Pig Children’s Bookshop
in Charlotte, Vermont. Although situated in a small community, the Flying
Pig bookshop is an extremely successful business, due to Elizabeth’s
broad knowledge of children’s literature and the personal service
she offers. It was another wonderful opportunity for me to spend time
with a colleague and share our enthusiasm for children’s literature.
Flying Pig Books
The New England Young Writers’ Conference was one of the highlights
of my Fellowship. The Conference has been running for 18 years, and is
a four-day residential college for high school students in their Sophomore
and Junior years — roughly the equivalent of our Years 10 and 11.
The Conference is held at the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College,
which also plays host to a highly regarded writer’s conference for
adults. Indeed, it was the long-standing success of the conference for
adult writers that inspired high school English teachers from Vermont
to establish the Young Writers’ Conference. Middlebury College supplies
the venue free of charge to the Conference, the benefit to the College
being that they may as a result attract applications to attend Middlebury
College from students at the Conference.
Approximately 240 students attend the Conference. The students submit
samples of their writing and a letter of recommendation from their English
teacher in order to be selected to attend the Conference. Students from
the Vermont schools involved in organising the Conference make up the
selection committee. This peer assessment is an interesting feature of
the Conference, and I must admit to being somewhat surprised that there
were no adults involved in the process. This raised some issues for the
organisers after a worrying incident on the final night of the Conference,
which I will discuss later in this report.
The students selected to attend the Conference are gifted writers, and
very serious about their writing. They nominate either prose or poetry
as their preferred genre, and are organised into groups of about 12-15.
Each morning, they work with the professional, published author allocated
to their group, workshopping their writing. Students have some one-on-one
time with their author during the course of the Conference. In the afternoons,
students choose elective sessions on specific aspects of writing, such
as "Writing Dialogue", "Creating Setting" and so on.
Social activities are organised for the evening sessions, and students
also have the opportunity to read their work at Open Mike and Poetry Slam
sessions in the main auditorium.
Selected teachers also attend the Conference as chaperones and have the
opportunity to attend their own writing workshops. Teachers also attend
the elective sessions in the afternoon, learning side by side with the
students. The Conference thus becomes a unique personal and professional
development opportunity for teachers.
I acted as a chaperone to a group of wonderful young women, all from different
states and schools. These young women quickly developed supportive friendships
and enjoyed sharing their writing with each other and with me. We remain
in occasional email contact, and it’s been a pleasure to hear about
their plans for college and their future in the long term.
The aspect of the conference I admired most was that it was entirely set
up to be for the benefit of the students. There was no disciplinary atmosphere,
and no sense of anxiety about where the students were or what they were
up to. As adults, we were hands off, unless asked to be otherwise, and
we basically didn’t intrude on the students’ experience at
all. It was for them and about them, and they respected that and there
were no behavioural problems. The site of the Breadloaf Campus also contributed
to this: the Campus is quite remote, and short of driving off site, which
would become immediately obvious, there is nowhere for the students to
However, there was one unpleasant incident which for me showed up a real
difference between the American and Australian experience. As I travelled
around the States and worked with people who work with young people, I
quickly came to realise how fundamental the Columbine High shootings has
become to the American psyche. They now know that chaos and murder can
happen in their schools in a way that we in Australia don’t know
— at least, not from experience. The Columbine shootings are never
far from teachers’ minds when any incident of conflict occurs.
At the open reading on the final night of the conference, the first reader
was a young black man who announced that something had happened that defied
the whole reason for the conference. First, he was going to read a poem
he’d previously written, and was then going to read something he’d
written in response to the incident. The first poem was a love poem; the
second an angry rap about a racist comment he said he’d heard after
he left his dorm room. The rap was unpolished to say the least, and descended
into an angry diatribe in which he called the white boys "faggots"
and made fairly overt threats to them.
It was a small group in the open readings that night; most of the students
were attending a performance of African dance in the other venue and there
were only two or three adults in the open mic audience. I was disturbed
and unsettled by the performance, but didn’t feel the need to report
it, or take it as a serious threat. I took it as angry posturing, and
thought he’d have made his point better if he hadn’t retaliated
to racism by calling the boys "faggots" — my dorm girls
who were there also commented on this later.
However, it quickly became clear that the organisers of the conference
took the incident extremely seriously indeed. The possibility that something
serious could have happened was a very real one to them. The boy could
easily have had a gun, how would they know? There were over 200 students
at the conference, and a number of them drove themselves there. The students
accused of making the comments were extremely frightened (they claimed
that they had been misheard and misunderstood). The incident made some
of the organisers question everything about the organisation of the Conference,
especially the peer selection of students. Potential litigation was discussed,
should the incident have played itself out to a violent end. After seventeen
years without incident, it was a serious and frightening matter for them
It’s worth mentioning that the Conference was notable for its lack
of ethnic diversity. There were few African American, Asian or Hispanic
students evident in the student population. The Conference organisers
are very aware of this, but were unsure how to address it; questions of
tokenism and merit were raised when the issue was discussed.
One of the organisers said that the entire Conference would be tainted
for him by this incident. It certainly wasn’t for me. I have inspiring
and happy memories of the Conference, and have been exploring ways of
establishing a "sister" conference here in Australia. I have
felt strongly for some time that we do not do enough for gifted writers
in their high school years. There are many opportunities for primary school
aged writers to pursue their interest, but secondary school aged writers
frequently complain that there are few creative writing workshops and
competitions and the like for them. Within schools, curriculum demands
take over, and many community arts groups are uncertain how to attract
young adults to their programs. Yet it is during these years that young
writers most need support, both creatively and vocationally. I hope that
if I am successful in establishing an Australian Young Writers’
Conference that it will become an important vehicle for supporting and
developing young Australian writers.
If a girl falls pregnant in her teenage years, it will take her until
she is 30 to make up for her lost educational opportunities. If she has
more than one child, she may never make up the lost ground. It was this
fact that encouraged Karen Thompson, a professional book group coordinator,
to establish "Literature for All of Us". "Literature for
All of Us" coordinates reading groups and writing workshops for pregnant
girls and teenage mothers. Nearly all of the girls involved are either
African American or Hispanic, and attend one of the three Chicago middle
or high schools for pregnant and parenting teens, or are doing their high
school equivalence certificate through other educational institutions.
The books read by the girls in the program are chosen by the group’s
leader, and the girls keep the books bought for them. As they gain their
confidence, the young women start asking for titles they’ve heard
their peers talk about — a memoir of an abused childhood, A
Child Called It, by Dave Pelzer, was in demand at one group I visited.
The books and poetry chosen are frequently by women writers of African
American and Hispanic heritage, a conscious decision to present to the
young women writing that include settings, language, themes and experiences
that relate to their lives.
The poetry these young women write in response to ideas generated by the
books or poems their group leader brings in to share with them were as
impressive and moving, if not as polished, as work I’ve read by
more privileged writers of their age. Each group has an anthology of their
writing published at the end of the school year.
The program is also having a very real impact on the literacy of the children
of the participants. Picture books for young children are read within
the group, and as they are allowed to keep the books chosen for themselves,
the young women also take home the picture books to share with their babies.
Group leaders incorporate parenting discussions into the book groups,
discussing issues such as how and where you read to your baby.
Karen Thompson has been extremely successful in attracting high levels
of funding and private and corporate donations to support "Literature
for All of Us". The program employs several full-time staff, and
the level of funding allows the young women to keep the books purchased
for their book group, and also provides for the publication of anthologies
of their writing. Since I visited the program, it has expanded to include
new programs such as the "Book Sister" mentorship program. A
number of other community groups are now using the "Literature for
All of Us" model to set up literacy programs to meet the particular
needs of their own communities. There is no doubt that it can similarly
provide an excellent model for Australian educational and community groups
to develop programs to support the literacy and creativity of our most
disadvantaged youth. Its philosophy of self-empowerment through literacy
and creative expression is certainly one that applies across national
and cultural boundaries.
New York/New Jersey/Boston
During my time in New York, with side trips to New Jersey and Boston,
I took up the opportunity to meet with colleagues from the publishing
and academic sides of children’s literature, as well as visiting
two impressive programs for young people. I also visited The Dalton School
on Manhattan’s upper east side, and met with a group of grade 4
In New York, I met with Tim Ditlow, the publisher at The Listening Library,
publisher of children’s books on audio, David Gale, a senior editor
of children’s books at Simon and Schuster, and Marc Aronson, publisher
of innovative children’s and young adult books at Cricket Books.
It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with colleagues from the publishing
industry and share ideas and opinions on children’s publishing.
I took an overnight trip to Boston and met with Roger Sutton, publisher
of The Horn Book. The Horn Book is the leading children’s literature
review journal in the US. I have long admired Roger’s strong editorial
stand on important issues relating to children’s literature, and
it was a pleasure to meet with him in person. Roger had read some of the
articles I have published in Australian journals, and asked me to write
on Australian children’s books for The Horn Book. My first article
will be published in November 2002.
Roger and I had dinner with Susan Bloom and Cathryn Mercier from the post
graduate Children’s Literature program at Simmons College in Boston,
a highly regarded program in academic circles. It was a great pleasure
to meet with these colleagues and to share an entertaining evening swapping
stories and sharing discussion of favourite books.
For the past few years I have been a member of child_lit, an online community
dedicated to discussion of children’s literature and related educational
issues. I met several fellow child_lit members while in New York, including
the listserv’s coordinator, Michael Joseph. I also went out to Rutgers
University in New Jersey, where Michael is on the academic staff, and
had lunch with Kay Vandergrift, Director of the Information Technology
& Informatics Program of the School of Communication, Information
and Library Studies. Kay teaches children’s literature to library
science students, and it is under the auspices of her school that the
university hosts child_lit.
Back in New York, I also spent quite a bit of time with Monica Edinger,
a wonderful 4th grade teacher I’d met on child_lit. I visited Monica
at The Dalton School, a private school on the upper east side where she
has taught 4th Grade for over ten years. Monica has special interests
in the use of literature in the classroom and in the teaching of history
and the place of historical fiction. I was able to see at first hand the
creative results of her teaching, and had a wonderful afternoon reading
to and chatting with her students about Australia. Monica and I also spent
a wonderful Sunday exploring her neighbourhood in the West Village, including
several hours browsing in The Bank St Bookshop, a superb children’s
bookshop attached to Bank St teacher education college.
A sample of Monica’s student’s work in the English curriculum
can be seen at:
I also spent time at two organisations offering writing opportunities
to young people, Young Playwrights Inc and Teachers and Writers Collaborative.
Young Playwrights Inc was established by Stephen Sondheim twenty years
ago. Its mission statement is to:
1. identify and develop playwrights aged 18 or younger, involving them
as active participants in the highest quality professional productions
of their plays;
2. develop new work for the stage;
3. insure that young theatre artists are heard and acknowledged by theatregoers
and by the profession;
4. promote the arts in basic education by facilitating the integration
of playwriting into the curriculum;
5. serve as an advocate for youth regardless of gender, race, physical
or economic ability, or sexual orientation.
Young Playwrights Inc. offers writing workshops, including a conference
and an "urban retreat", which involves young people coming from
all over the USA to a residential week in New York, where they attend
workshops and a variety of theatrical performances. A creative writing
competition attracts around 1500 entries each year, and winners of this
competition have their play professionally produced off-Broadway in New
York, an extraordinary opportunity for young writers. The organisation
also offers teacher in-servicing on the art of playwrighting.
I was impressed with the high professional standards of Young Playwrights
Inc. Its success with young writers is evident, and the range of opportunities
it offers within a single genre of writing is admirable. It provides an
excellent model of the professional management of a youth arts organisation.
Teachers and Writers Collaborative, a non-profit organization, was founded
in 1967 by a group of writers and educators who believed that writers
could make a unique contribution to the teaching of writing. T&W brings
writers and educators together in collaborations that explore the connections
between writing and reading literature and that generate new ideas and
materials. T&W writers' diaries, as well as articles from other writers
and teachers from around the country, are the source of T&W publications.
T&W publishes a bimonthly magazine and books, distributed through
the 200,000 catalogues they mail to writers and educators each year.
The day I visited the T&W offices a group of authors were meeting
with T&W staff to discuss their involvement in the forthcoming summer
schools program in District 75. District 75 is the New York public school
district for children with learning and/or emotional disabilities. The
authors shared their experience of the T&W program. Some of them had
worked in District 75 before, and had excellent advice for their colleagues
on the sorts of strategies that had worked for them to meet the specific
needs of the children. Others were completely new recruits to the T&W
program, and were keen to learn from their more experienced colleagues.
Participating in this group was most inspiring, and I felt the opportunity
for the authors to share their ideas and experiences was most important.
A feature of T&W that impressed me is that it offers programs that
targets students with particular needs in a way that we do not do here
in Australia. Writing workshops have been devised for students who are
considered "at risk" and/or likely to drop out of school. Another
program is offered for deaf students. There are bi-lingual, special education
and gifted and talented program available. T&W also works with mainstream
kids in mainstream schools, and offers after school writing groups for
interested young people.
Another impressive feature of the T&W program is the variety of writing
workshops it offers. Not limited to the writing of fiction, as is often
the case with author-in-schools programs, T&W offers workshops in
areas such as:
* Poetry, fiction, and playwriting
* The literary and personal essay
* Memoir and journal writing
* Multicultural literature and writing
* Whole language learning
* Theatre improvisation for problem solving and conflict resolution
* Content-area writing (eg. social studies, ecology, the sciences)
* Children's literature
* Inter-generational writing projects
T&W also hosts a season of readings by published and unpublished writers,
and coordinates a literary radio program on a local New York community
radio station. Like many of the programs I visited, T&W incorporates
a teacher in-service component. T&W also has an extensive publishing
program, with a wide range of books published on different aspects of
writing. Since returning to Australia, I have found some of the T&W
books extremely useful in teaching creative writing to a group of Year
9 students while undertaking a teaching block early in 2002.
T&W is a superb model of colleagues working together across professions
to bring the best educational and creative experience to young people.
There is much about their workshop program and organisational structure
that Australian youth arts organisations could benefit from.
My final morning in New York was spent at the Brooklyn Public Library.
Susan Raboy, manager of Young Adult Services at the library showed me
around their wonderful children’s and youth spaces in the library.
Recently renovated, the library has been extremely creative in making
the most of their limited space. A technology centre for teenagers was
constructed as a "second floor" within the existing library
space. A kind of loft construction houses bank upon bank of iMacs, available
to young users of the library for research and homework use.
I visited the library during their summer reading program. The library
foyer was full of young children involved in craft activities, while within
the children’s area, groups of children sat chatting with authors
and storytellers, learning about the craft of writing. It is clearly a
vibrant, inviting library deeply committed to offering wonderful services
to its young clients, and my visit was a fitting and joyful conclusion
to my time in the USA.
In Ireland, I was welcomed into the home of Valerie and Rex Coghlan for
the month I was in the country. Valerie is Librarian at the Church of
Ireland College of Education and is one of Ireland’s leading specialists
in children’s literature. Valerie was instrumental in setting up
Children’s Books Ireland, an organisation promoting Irish children’s
books comparable in function and philosophy to the Children’s Book
Council of Australia.
I was fascinated to discover that few Irish schools have a dedicated library
space, and there are few teacher-librarians as we understand them. Most
schools rely on an enthusiastic teacher or parent volunteer to oversee
their small collection, which is likely to be housed in a spare classroom.
In her role as Librarian at the College, Valerie regularly runs workshops
and seminars to inform these voluntary librarians about issues to do with
library management and information science, and about children’s
books. Valerie held one such seminar while I was in Dublin, and she invited
me to speak to her students about Australian children’s books. It
was a great opportunity to promote Australian children’s books.
I also had the opportunity to visit a primary school in Dublin, and fielded
more questions about deadly Australian animals. One young girl asked a
particularly interesting question: Did Australian children learn in Aboriginal
English as well as English? This question arose because all Irish children
learn bi-lingually, in English and Irish. The question made me somewhat
sad, because although Australian children have access to excellent education
about Aboriginal Australia, as we know, few Indigenous languages still
exist. In this direct connection with their original language and culture,
Irish children have a wonderful advantage over many other children the
Dublin is home to The Ark Children's Cultural Centre. Opened in 1995,
The Ark is situated in Dublin’s lively Temple Bar arts and entertainment
district, and is Europe’s only custom-designed children’s
art centre. It is dedicated to cultural work for, by, with and about children
and it attracts around 30,000 children and 5000 adults through its doors
each year. The Ark, which has received major sponsorship money and European
Union funding, contains a 150 seat theatre, an amphitheatre, gallery space
and large workshop studio. Its philosophy can be summed up as follows:
"In The Ark, children are makers and doers, as well as lookers and
listeners." The Ark offers programs across many art forms: literature,
theatre, music, storytelling, fine art and sculpture. It also features
an impressive outreach program working with children in public housing
and rural children, to ensure that young people from all backgrounds can
benefit from the work of the centre.
The program on offer during my time in Dublin was called "Bless the
Beasts". This program had print making (an exhibition of Picasso
animal prints) and sculpture as its focus. The centre employed a sculptor
to work with groups of children creating "beasts" out of found
objects; scrap metal, car and computer parts; if it was industrial rubbish,
you could make a creature out of it. Observing a group of Year 4 students
watch a practising artist, who was very skilled at demonstrating his craft
to the young audience, and then put into practise some of the techniques
he showed them as they built their own "beasts", was a delightful
experience. At the end of the program, the child-built sculptures were
to be exhibited in the amphitheatre behind The Ark.
It is unlikely, sadly, that the kind of funding required to establish
a splendid children’s cultural centre like The Ark will be found
in Australia. However, visiting The Ark reminded me how lacking we are
in NSW, and perhaps in the rest of Australia, in centres that focus on
children’s participation in the arts. The Ark, and many other programs
and arts centres I visited on my Fellowship, renewed my determination
to find new ways of bringing quality arts experiences to young Australians.
I attended the European Reading Association Conference held by the Reading
Association of Ireland and gave a paper on Indigenous writers of Australian
children’s books, which was extremely well received. This conference,
and my meetings with Clare Ransom, director of Children’s Books
Ireland, enabled me to meet many Irish children’s authors and the
key Irish children’s publisher, Michael O’Brien of O’Brien
Press. These meetings will evolve in the future to develop an Irish-Australian
network of children’s literature professionals. In particular, I
am now representing O’Brien Press’s children’s books
to Australian publishers for local rights, and will be hosting Marie-Louise
Fitzpatrick, an award-winning author/illustrator, during her forthcoming
professional visit to Australia.
As I commented in an article I wrote for "Children’s Books
in Ireland", Ireland’s leading children’s literature
review journal, during my stay in Dublin, there are many similarities
between the Irish and Australian children’s literature communities,
both culturally and in terms of the publishing industry. Australia and
Ireland are both smallish countries population-wise, and our publishing
industries are locally strong, but not particularly significant internationally.
We’ve also got a common history with Britain, and Irish children
— like Australian children — for many decades found the bulk
of their reading made up of English and US titles. Accordingly, one of
the great similarities I found is that both countries produce books for
young readers that are unashamedly Irish, or Australian, without being
twee or relying on national stereotypes or being overly jingoistic.
One of the most marked differences in the kinds of books Ireland and Australia
publish for young people is a reflection of the strikingly different make-up
of the Australian versus the Irish population. Australia is a far more
multi-cultural society than Ireland, and our books reflect this aspect
of Australian life as a matter of course. It will be interesting to observe
whether or perhaps, rather, how Irish books begin to encompass the changing
nature of Irish society as more immigrants and asylum seekers arrive.
England and Scotland
The key organisations I visited in the UK were Education Extra, the Birmingham
City Library, the Centre for the Children’s Book in Newcastle, England
and The Scottish Book Trust.
Education Extra, based in London but operating throughout England, provides
advice, resources, information and support about out-of-school-hours learning.
Education Extra’s purpose is to enable schools to work with pupils,
their families and the wider community to build an environment in which
learning is extended beyond the formal school day, which encourages new
ways of teaching and learning and which reflects the diversity of people's
interests and needs.
The program I was most interested in was Education Extra’s Reading
Clubs. Education Extra has been helping schools to run successful reading
clubs for the last five years. A recent report into 100 clubs showed that
most children involved increased their reading age over the year, developed
much more enthusiastic reading habits, greater self esteem and displayed
better behaviour both in the club and in conventional class lessons.
Education Extra has been successful in forging strong relationships with
major publishing partners, including Puffin, Bloomsbury, Random House,
Orion, Faber and Faber, and is thus able to offer schools substantial
book discounts to support the reading groups. In addition, Education Extra
offers club organisers telephone and email support, a schedule of excellent
club activities and email networks for organisers to share ideas and tips.
As I visited England during their summer school holidays, I was unable
to visit a reading group in action. However, it was clear from my visit
to Educational Extra’s Reading Groups' coordinator, Ben Locker,
that the program is extremely successful and beneficial to its young participants
and their teachers. Australian schools would benefit enormously by a coordinated
program of supported reading groups such as that offered by Educational
Extra to promote reading for pleasure and educational success outside
the curriculum constraints of the classroom.
The Birmingham Library offers innovative programming through its Centre
for the Child within the Library itself, and through its outreach programs,
which include a program delivering books and information about supporting
early literacy to new parents through the region’s hospitals and
baby health centres. I visited the Centre for the Child during their summer
holiday program and participated in a book-based activity with pre-schoolers.
However, I was most impressed to learn about the annual Young Readers
UK literary festival for young readers developed and mounted by the Birmingham
Young Readers UK is a festival with children and young adults and their
families as its target audience. Over 100 children’s book authors
and illustrators, poets and storytellers make up the two week program,
and each year the Festival attracts thousands of young participants. This
is remarkable for a child-focused arts festival, but especially so as
it is mounted in a regional centre. Given that children’s books
are so frequently marginalised in the literary community, it is encouraging
to know that such an extensive Children’s Literature Festival can
attract so many participants and be successful over many years. Regretfully,
I was not in England during the 2001 Festival, but hope to attend the
Festival some time in the future, and look to experiencing it as a model
for potential Australian children’s book festivals.
The Scottish Book Trust focuses many of its activities on children and
youth. These activities include promoting Scottish children’s literature,
as well as child and youth literacy. Their Writers in Scotland scheme
subsidises visits by Scottish writers to schools and libraries, allowing
Scottish children to benefit from the experience of meeting and working
with professional writers. Although such school visits are common in Australia,
few receive subsidised funding to assist disadvantaged communities to
access such visits.
The Trust also produces an extensive range of highly professional publications.
6. Words of Wonder. Available for children from toddlers to teenagers,
these colourful leaflets offer guidance and up-to-the-minute recommendations
to appeal to young readers and all those interested in what they’re
* Beginning with Books. Widely used by teachers, librarians, social workers
and health visitors to support early literacy initiatives, this illustrated
booklet is designed for the parents of young children. Beginning with
Books is available in 10 languages including Gaelic, Scots and Welsh.
* Radical Reading. This leaflet is designed to help parents and teachers
keep adolescent readers interested in reading. It lists over one hundred
"tried and true" books for this age group.
* What’s best for Your Child. This leaflet gives tips on encouraging
reading for parents of children from birth to teens. Schools and libraries
often distribute it amongst parents and carers as part of their work.
The Trust also publishes posters, reading guides and numerous other publications
to support children’s reading and promote Scottish writers. It is
perhaps the most comprehensive publications list of any child-focused
literature organisation I have come across, and serves as a model for
the kinds of publications-as-outreach/education for organisations such
as The Children’s Book Council and the network of Writers’
Centres around Australia.
The Trust also acts as a central repository of information about book
events throughout Scotland, offers training and outreach programs such
as "Books For Boys", "Getting Them Reading", specialist
study workshops for Higher English pupils and in-service talks for teachers
and librarians, and administers literary awards. In Australia, these kinds
of activities tend to be divided amongst different professional and voluntary
organisations with varying degrees of funding, and to varying success.
Having all these disparate activities coordinated by a central body allows
for a cohesive approach, and avoids duplication across different organisations.
Significant centralised funding such as that enjoyed by the Trust also
allows for a high level of professionalism in program development and
Helena McConnell and Mary Briggs established the Centre for the Children’s
Book as an archival repository for British children’s literature.
For many years, international (especially US) collectors have been buying
manuscripts, illustrations and other related archival material of British
children’s books, and Helena and Mary believed it was important
to both keep this material in the UK, and to make it available to scholars
and researchers. Virtually single-handedly, these two women have brought
to fruition not merely a literary/academic archive, but what will probably
be the world’s premier community-focused Children’s Literature
The development of the Centre has coincided with a boom in Newcastle under
the Labour government — Newcastle has been completely transformed
in the 13 years since I last visited family there in 1988. New apartment
complexes along the riverfront sit cheek by jowl with a new Arts Centre
and a new Music Centre. Heritage buildings are being refurbished as community
arts centres, and a particular focus in the educational community is on
youth literacy targeting youth at risk. It is in this context of community
renewal and cultural growth that the Centre for the Children’s Book
The Centre has been operational for several years now, although it won’t
be settled in its new home in the St Peter’s Marina, a heritage
mill building until 2003. When that happens, the Centre will be a seven
story complex, offering gallery space, an educational centre, a bookshop
and other program and exhibition spaces. The archive, the initial purpose
for the Centre, will be held off-site, but will be made available as always
intended. To date, the Centre has used various venues around Newcastle
to mount hugely successful programs and exhibitions, such as a Tin Tin
exhibition that attracted tens of thousands of visitors from the UK and
I believe that the success and innovation of the Centre is due in no small
part to the remarkable and, in my experience, rare achievement of bringing
together financial and practical support from groups across the spectrum
of community — arts organisations, national and local government,
educational groups, commercial organisations such as publishers and corporate
sponsorship. In this way, the Centre provides a model we can learn a great
deal from in Australia in our efforts to mount well-supported and viable,
on-going programs and comparable Youth Arts Centres. Finally, I am hoping
in coming years, with the support of the Australia Council and Australian
publishers, to mount a program and exhibition of Australian children’s
books at the Centre for the Children’s book.
In short, my Fellowship was an extraordinary opportunity to experience
best practise by colleagues in education, libraries, publishing and community
arts in delivering quality literary and literacy experiences to children
and young adults from all walks of life, and all levels of participation
in culture and society. Many of the programs I visited would meet the
needs of young Australians, and offer them experiences not currently available
to them. I am currently working towards making partnerships with appropriate
arts and literature organisations to investigate new programs such as
a sister Young Writers’ Conference to the New England Young Writers’
Conference, and maintaining and developing the contacts made. In particular,
I am pursuing the possibility of touring some Australian children’s
authors to the US and UK. Furthermore, we in the Australian children’s
literature community should work actively to develop and nurture international
links and professional and cultural exchanges. We should also beware our
own parochialism and be open to the ideas, innovations and experiences
of our international colleagues in publishing for young people, and even
more particularly, of our colleagues delivering significant literary and
literature experiences to young readers and writers.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
My Fellowship confirmed for me some of the "gaps" I have long
felt have existed in the work we do with and for young readers and writers
in Australia. I was also impressed with the high degree of regard with
which Australian children’s books are held internationally, and
hope to build on the contacts I made to actively promote Australian children’s
books and their creators to the rest of the world.
One of the key groups that I feel have been under-serviced by literature
programs outside the education system are gifted teenage writers aged
14/15+. Prior to leaving the State Library of NSW in order to undertake
my Fellowship, I was Senior Project Officer for two years on Nestlé
Write Around Australia, a creative writing program for children in their
senior years of primary school. We frequently received requests from high
school students, asking that a category of the program be added for them,
as since they had left primary school, their opportunity to participate
in creative writing programs had all but disappeared.
The New England Young Writers Conference provides an excellent model for
supporting adolescent writers. The conference lasts for four days, and
students — who must submit work and a recommendation from their
English teacher to be accepted into the Conference — elect to join
either a prose or poetry workshop. Each morning, they work in small groups
with a professional, published writer in their genre, and also have several
one-on-one conferences with their tutor. Teachers attending the conference
as chaperones also have their own morning writing workshops, a wonderful
personal and professional development opportunity.
In the afternoon teachers and students alike can choose from electives
focusing on specific aspects of writing, such as dialogue and character
development. At night, there are open mic readings and poetry slams, as
well as musical entertainment and other social events.
The conference was one of the most satisfying creative experiences I have
ever had, and it was clear from the students that it also provided them
with life-changing opportunities. Young adults who are serious about their
writing need all the support they can get, yet outside of the classroom,
which is usually curriculum-bound, they rarely have the opportunity to
benefit from professional support and advice. Those workshops which do
exist are usually one-offs, and writing competitions rarely provide much
in the way of feedback.
I am currently working to establish a sister conference to the New England
Writers’ Conference in my home state of NSW. I have received a great
deal of enthusiasm for this project in my discussions with possible partners,
and I hope to be able to mount a pilot conference in 2003. The biggest
challenge will be in finding enough funding to ensure that the NSW Young
Writers’ Conference will be accessible to all young writers, regardless
of economic situation. Long-term, I hope to incorporate an exchange program
for both students and teachers with the New England conference.
DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Disadvantaged children and youth and young people living in extreme circumstances
can benefit enormously from access to reading and writing programs, yet
are rarely able to do so. Two programs I visited in the USA were specifically
set up to address the needs of some of the neediest young people in their
communities. In Los Angeles, Create Now! takes professional television,
film and song writers to centres for homeless youth and into youth detention
centres. These young people have the opportunity — for some, the
first opportunity in their life — for creative expression. In some
instances, work opportunities have arisen from the workshops organised
by Create Now. In Chicago, Literature For All of Us coordinates reading
and writing groups for pregnant and parenting teenage girls. The literacy
rates of these girls and their children and improved remarkably by the
program. Common to both these programs is the enormous improvement in
self-esteem in the young participants.
While many public literary programs for children and young people attempt
to find ways to ensure access for socially and economically disadvantaged
children, I am not aware of any groups or programs specifically targeting
the young people from the most difficult backgrounds in their literary
programs. This is an area that requires attention, as it is evident that
the opportunity to improve both the literacy standards and the opportunity
for self-expression makes a significant difference to the lives and self-esteem
of this group of young people. I personally intend to look for opportunities
to promote this idea, and to assist social welfare organisations to include
such activities in their programming.
PROMOTION OF AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
While not the specific focus of my Fellowship, it provided me with a wonderful
opportunity to meet with colleagues from all areas of the children’s
book community. I found there to be an enormous interest in Australian
children’s books and their creators, but as comparatively few Australian
children’s books are published internationally, my colleagues had
difficulty accessing either the books themselves or information about
them. To this end, I am investigating two projects:
1 . To work with the Centre for the Children’s Book in Newcastle,
England to coordinate an exhibition and education program about Australian
2 . To establish a website dedicated to promoting Australian children’s
books to the world. The site will be linked to an Australian online bookseller.
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