Pen’s TL Blog

Journey to the Centre of Teacher Librarianship

What is ‘children’s literature’? Is it different to children’s ‘literature’? July 30, 2011

Filed under: Literature,Reading for pleasure,Teacher Librarianship — penszen @ 3:34 pm

As part of my subject Literature in Education, we are debating the definition of ‘children’s literature’. This is what I had to say on the forum:

“A definition of children’s literature must consider the role children play – as readers and perhaps as selectors – as well as what ‘literature’ is. Just because it is for children, should the quality that is ascribed to ‘literature’ over fiction in general be compromised? Winch (2006) uses longevity and impact as two measures which might separate literature out from other written works. Enid Blyton was not held in my (childhood) primary school library as she was considered poor quality but her works have stood the test of time and are beloved of many children, so according to Winch, they would be included in a collection of children’s literature. She would, however, be left out if literature meant “high literary and artistic standards” as suggested by Sutherland and Arbuthnot (1991, pp.5-7, in MacGregor’s document).
Personally, I loved Enid Blyton and would love to share her with young readers today, so I think my definition would be broad enough to allow relatively populist authors if they did prove to be lastingly successful, though I would draw the line at the Psycho Bum books, beloved of many as they are…”

I was immediately queried over my judgement of Andy Griffith’s Pyscho Bum books so I must hasten to add that though I find them eye-rollingly juvenile, of course I appreciate their value in appealing to children, particularly otherwise reluctant readers.  I would always have them in multiple copies in a library collection. My question is whether ‘literature’ includes ALL material made for or enjoyed by children or whether it indicates a certain literary merit and is therefore somewhat exclusive. What do you think?

Winch, G. (2006). Literacy : reading, writing and children’s literature (3rd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.


Out and proud. March 11, 2011

Filed under: Libraries,Ramblings,Reading for pleasure — penszen @ 1:50 pm

I’m not sure what librarians are trying to prove. Is it that they feel undervalued, unrecognised? They can come across as so condescending, as if we mere mortals cannot possibly be aware of the trials they face managing resources for an ungrateful public. I appreciate that it’s true, the average punter does not realise what a complex and demanding job it is to be a good librarian. I stress good librarian. We all know librarians who fit the stereotype of a sour-faced, mean grouch who doesn’t seem to want to actually share ‘their’ library resources. We also know perfectly pleasant librarians who have their systems in place, from 20 years ago, who do not seem aware of the changing pace of the world outside their shelves.

Good librarians are truly amazing people, with energy to burn, curiosity, empathy and minds sharp, quick and broad. They know their patrons and they know their products and they are not afraid to lead. Most importantly, they learn unceasingly, and they share that learning. I have been inducted into the world of good librarians through this course, and especially through the OZTL_NET listserv, which connects librarians all over Australia and beyond. They are inspiring. I fancy I could be like that, but I also came into this course because I have a love of books. I know. Shoot me now.

John Kennedy, in his 2006 book Collection Management, is withering when he states, “Until ten or fifteen years ago, entrants to library science courses were notoriously prone to nominate a ‘love of books’ as the reason for their choice of career” (p. 35). I know, John, how naive! While being a shameless lover of books, I do recognise that it does not automatically make you a good librarian, but I would dare to say it is a desirable attribute. Despite the growing number of alternative information sources and entertainment media available, libraries are still largely populated by books. I would be disappointed if my librarian was anything less than enthusiastic about books. Perhaps I am so book focused because I work in the primary realm of the education landscape, where learning to read is paramount as an entry to learning and pleasure. At our end, books are still an integral part of the library experience, and I will continue to love them, out and proud.

Kennedy, J. (2006). Collection management. A concise introduction. Revised edition. Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.


Is it already May 14th? May 14, 2009

Filed under: ISPs,Ramblings,Reading for pleasure — penszen @ 10:43 am

How can so much time have passed since my last blog entry?? Lucky I have some other TL student bloggers out there to inspire me (see my blogroll). I was commenting away till I realised I should be putting some of those ideas on my own blog.

So what have I been up to? Aside from nursing sick children and taking little trips to the countryside, I have knocked over the critical analysis of three information search processes. I know I’ll fall down on the wide reading bit, but I certainly have opinions so there’s no problem with the ‘critical’ bit. I hope. We’ll see. Moving right along. I have a sense of impending freedom and I’m trying not to rush through the work, just to be finished. But ooh, that freedom…

The other thing I have achieved is actually finishing a fiction book, my first in literally months. “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage, 2005) is a great read, so cleverly crafted and skillfully written. I imagine Niffenegger had huge sheets of paper with timelines all around her workspace. I’d love to read about the process of writing that very temporally complex book. (If that’s the right use of that word.) Plus, can I add that saying Niffenegger’s name is a pleasure in itself.

Yes yes I should be writing something about the course, but I just feel a bit rebellious this morning. So I’m off to play lexulous online. Ha.


Hello world! February 26, 2009

Filed under: Reading for pleasure,Teacher Librarianship — penszen @ 1:45 am

Good morning and welcome to my first post of my first blog.

A bit about me. My name is Penny and I’m a primary school teacher who is currently at home with my 4 year old son and 1 year old daughter. I love being a full-time mum but I miss the stimulation of teaching and schools in general. So having finished a postgrad diploma in Special Education at Macquarie University (highly recommended) I have decided to pursue another interest, which is Teacher Librarianship.

I have always loved books and reading. I was one of those quiet bespectacled children who liked nothing more than adventuring with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, sobbing through the heartwrenching animal tales of Helen Griffiths, soaring with Anne McCaffrey’s dragonsingers and getting spooked by Nicholas Fisk. I wanted one day to be that kind of writer, who would produce books that people hugged to their chest after reading, wanting to stay with those characters for ever.

As a teacher, I love to share my passion with children and I fancy that I’m a pretty good story reader. Nothing settles a bouncy class more than a good book. I was lucky enough to get a three day a week job in a junior school library for a year while I was pregnant with my son. I was in heaven – I loved being involved with all the children and all the staff (collegiality is one of my favourite things), being in what I considered the hub of the school. And being surrounded by books. I spend the year catching up on all the newer fiction that I was out of touch with, carrying home piles of books and devouring them in satisfying chunks. Children’s books really are tasty. After that I realised that I wanted to pursue that avenue and eventually, when I get back to work, to work in a school library again, and next time, really know what I’m doing.

So here I am, starting my Master of Education in Teacher Librarianship at Charles Sturt University, starting a blog and starting to get my head around the new world of information technology that our children, and we, are surrounded by. Wish me luck!