Thursday, July 28, 2011

Congratulations to Susanne Gervay yet again!!

Thanks to Barbara Braxton for bringing this to my attention:
"Susanne Gervay’s Always Jack has won the 2011 Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature."
This is the review Barbara Braxton posted last October ...

Susanne Gervay
Cathy Wilcox
Angus & Robertson, 2010

Jack’s back!  Hero of I am Jack and Super Jack and his family, including Nanna (and her infamous purple underpants), are back in another story, this time dealing with a crisis that so many families face -  breast cancer. Known for being the author who tackles the big issues, Susanne has drawn on her experiences as a breast cancer survivor to weave a story of how a family can receive such shattering news and then pull together to emerge stronger than ever.

The cover, by Cathy Wilcox, sets the scene perfectly.  Jack is on his surfboard paddling on calm waters unaware of the big wave that has risen behind him and is about to come crashing down.  His world, at the moment, consists of his scientific experiment with his ponto, his photography, his budding relationship with both Anna and soon-to-be brother Leo, and THE wedding between his mum and stepdad Rob.  What happens when his mum receives the news after a routine mammogram makes for an intriguing and intimate look at this family’s relationships and you soon understand that this disease is a family problem, not just a mum problem.

Initially, in her innate bid to protect the children, Jack’s mum tells the children to keep it to themselves, not to worry and that she will be all right.  But this is not what Jack and Samantha need to hear.  They are worried, they need to tell their friends and they can clearly see mum is not all right so feel she is lying to them.  They feel confused, powerless and shut out of this thing that is SO big that even the wedding is postponed. But Nanna has some remarkable advice that brings the family together and helps them endure the surgery and the subsequent radiation treatment so that it becomes almost a positive in their lives.

“Story gives children a voice”, Susanne says, “particularly in these sorts of circumstances. My job, as an educational psychologist and a storyteller is to give them that voice so that those around them know what they are thinking.”  But this is not a sad , heavy book – Jack’s zany jokes, his life-changing project on Vietnam with his friend Christopher, and his deep love for his sister despite the surface bickering, shine through to provide a positive, uplifting tale that leaves a real impact on the reader.  It is not didactic but there is a powerful message both between and beyond the lines. 

Endorsed by the Cancer Council NSW ( and the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre ( this book is an essential addition to your collection.  But it is also an essential addition to the libraries of those organisations whose role is to support families affected by cancer so perhaps, as Christmas draws near, you might choose to donate a copy to them.  My colleague and I gave one to our local McGrath Foundation breast care nurse.  A percentage of the proceeds goes to the Cancer Council and the NBOCC so your purchase will touch so many lives.

If you are affected by this disease, the helpline number is 131120 and details of the National Screening program is at

Thanks to Barbara Braxton for sharing this good news.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Boolify to the rescue for struggling searchers.

Boolify is a great tool for students learning how to search more successfully.
Boolify: An Educational Boolean Search Tool

 "Boolify makes it easier for students to understand their web search by illustrating the logic of their search, and by showing them how each change to their search instantly changes their results."

There are search lessons available.

Friday, July 15, 2011

E-books-are you ready??

Given that research shows that voluntary reading is the best indicator of success around  Stephen Krashen, an advocate of free voluntary reading says: "readers do well on tests because they have no choice, because they have acquired, not learned, grammar, vocabulary, and the conventions of writing." I would rate that as my no 1 priority to address: Make the discovery of fun, enjoyable, interesting, comfortable reads possible for all of our students -many need  mountains of encouragement and guidance in this area. 
Sadly, students see themselves as a failure as other peers, who have been voluntary readers from very early days, are so much more competent students than they are. The divide is wide and for many it seems like it is too hard to ever narrow that gap. The earlier we can enthuse our students the better! 
In the School Library Journal article: Are E-books Any Good?
Do digital books help young kids learn to read,or are they mostly fun and games? Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation states: "States and school districts in America are starting to make deals with ebook companies to provide yearly subscriptions to thousands of students at a time." 
What about here in Australia? Are there any moves to provide National subscriptions in line with our new National Curriculum and stretch pressurised school budgets and provide some equity in resource availability for our students.
Researchers such as Stephen Krashen, and others who study what helps children learn to read, consider providing kids with easy access to an abundance of nonfiction and fiction books of paramount importance. Should libraries turn to electronic picture books to help them provide that access? Will E-books help or hurt?

Read all about e-books to make a well informed decision.
Polanka, Sue. No Shelf Required® includes eBooks, audio books, and other digital content found in libraries as well as the technology needed to read and listen to this digital content.
From Paper to Pixel: Digital Textbooks and Florida’s Schools [White Paper]
Lagarde, Jennifer. Hooked on e-Books This informative session shows how to best incorporate e-readers into classroom instruction.
Parker, Kathleen. E-Book Educators Group features a variety of e-Book-related topics, including the iPad, special needs, e-Book reading issues, and kindles.
Foote, Carolyn. (2009) Which way do we go? The “e-book” dilemma
INFOhio E-Book Study Group - eBooks and eTextbooks can be used effectively in school libraries. This group also studies issues related to the mobile devices that can be used to read eBooks.
Casida, Fiona. Pixilated Librarian E-Book and E-Reader Blog Comprehensive sources of current E-book and E-reader information (as they relate to classroom and instructional use. Topics include “DRM and File Formats”, “E-reader Rental Form”, etc.
Suggestions from Essential Links E-books and E-readers

In his post, The future of print: 21 interesting e-books for kids | Dangerously Irrelevant | Big ThinkScott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Educational Administration program at Iowa State University, states that: "the lines between electronic books, videos, animation, interactive games, and learning software are blurring and it’s going to be fascinating to see what gets created as authors, artists, animators, game designers, photographers, videographers, educators, and publishers work together over the next few years."

Suggested further reading from Are E-books any good?:

The young reader
School libraries: Ready to adopt?
What’s an ebook anyway?
Help or hindrance?
Bigger collections, easier access

Why would we not include such engaging resources for our students?

Check out some of the e-Books I have shared with my school community.

I will let Carol Horner, Director of Technology at the Wesleyan Schoolhave the final say in this blog post: "Today's students have grown up using technology to communicate with and engage society.  They have had access to computers, cell phones, email, and the internet since birth.  They speak the language of technology fluently and are as comfortable with the digital screen as past generations have been with pen and paper.  Education must evolve to keep up with the way these digital natives learn and process information. Ebooks, if implemented properly, have the potential to revolutionize education." 

What are your plans for including e-Books in your library?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's a MAGIC booktrailer....and shares a really interactive book....

I love booktrailers. I have plans to get some of my students to create some booktrailers this term. Our netbooks are almost up and running. We are getting closer to action stations.
If you would like some help to find interesting sites to explore you could try: Create book trailers to encourage reading.  
Kids booktrailers: Booktrailers for kids to explore and booktrailers created by kids.

Here is one of my favourite booktrailers from Chronicle Books:

Have you already or do you have any plans to explore booktrailers with your students?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Should We Shrink Wrap Our School Libraries? | Powerful Learning Practice

Where is your library headed? Are your students becoming transliterate?

This article spoke volumes to me and led me to many valuable resources provided by the AASL.

For all teacher librarians ( school librarians) and their administrators it is a must read.

Should We Shrink Wrap Our School Libraries? | Powerful Leahis article spoke volumes to merning Practice

Friday, July 8, 2011

2012 Year of Reading gets a financial boost.

National Year of Reading 2012

08/07/2011 -NEWS: Australian Government announces $1.3M funding for the National Year of Reading 2012 or read it here
Read the June issue of the National Year of Reading 2012 e-newsletter
National Year of Reading flyer- Can you read this? 
For more information visit the National Year of Reading 2012 wiki
and make sure you check out:
                              Stuff for Kids

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Concerned students share: "Why I need my High School Library."

Check out the video presentation below:
Winner of the ALA "Why I need my High School Library" 2011 Contest! Over 150 student groups also participated in The American Library Association's Why I Need My Library Video Contest, by creating creative videos on why School Libraries are important. 

Can you see your students creating something similar about your library?

Uncovering the rules for scanning book covers

Teachers scanning book covers

Teachers (inc teacher librarians) can scan book covers for use in digital presentations (including review blogs, slideshows and book trailers) under the Statutory Text and Artistic Works licence. These presentations must be for the educational purposes of the school, i.e. use in teaching, preparation for teaching, classroom/homework exercises, library resources to encourage reading and/or notify students of books available in library as well as professional development exercises.

These digital presentations can also be uploaded to a content repository (e.g. school intranet, learning management system, class wiki or blog) provided access is password protected and limited to teachers and students of the school.

A teacher cannot upload these digital presentations containing the scanned book covers to content repositories available to the public. If they wish to do this, they will need to seek the permission of the copyright owner (illustrator/s and/or publisher). This will involve contacting the copyright owner in writing and outlining exactly what you wish to do with the book cover, e.g. scan book cover to include in presentation that is placed online (state whether website, wiki and/or blog) and accessible to the public. The copyright owner will need to agree to allow the teacher to do this before the teacher can proceed.

See the Smartcopying website at:  for information on how to seek permission from copyright owners.

Students scanning book covers

Students can scan book covers to include in digital representations and upload these representations on a password protected repository as part of their classroom or homework under fair dealing for study and research. Students should attribute the copyright owner of the book cover (illustrator/s and/or publisher).

We need some more information on why the students would make these digital presentations available online to the public before determining whether fair dealing will apply to allow students to do this.

Can you please provide some examples of when students would want to make their presentations containing scanned book covers  available online to public so we can provide further advice.

For further information on fair dealing, see Smartcopying at:

Students designing their own book covers

There are no copyright issues arising from students designing their own book covers. Students own copyright in the original material they create.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further queries, please give me a call.


Sylvie Saab
National Copyright Officer, National Copyright Unit
Ministerial Council on Education, Early Childhood Development
and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA)
Level 5, 35 Bridge Street, Sydney NSW 2000

t: +61 (0)2 9561 8730   f: +61 (0)2 9561 1499

Thanks to Barbara Braxton for sharing this information.