Page 3065 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 August 2013

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National Book Week

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (6.35): One of my favourite times of year has come around again. August 17 to 23 is the Children’s Book Council’s National Book Week. This year to celebrate Book Week I will be visiting early childhood centres to read with kids and to celebrate with the educators the importance of books and early education. Everyone in this chamber knows the importance of early reading experiences in shaping lives. Seventy-five per cent of children’s development occurs before the age of five, and the foundations of lifelong literacy are laid in these early years.

Book Week is also a time to reflect on the other benefits of early reading. Books do not just improve the literacy of our children; they help shape their world view and begin to engage them in considering what kind of community they would like to live in. In honour of Book Week I would like to recommend one of my favourite stories, Click, clack, moo: cows that type by American author Doreen Cronin. Doreen Cronin, like many of our award-winning Australian authors, understands that even very young children are interested in and capable of exploring complex ideas and balancing competing views.

Doreen’s story Click, clack, moo: cows that type is an illustrated story about a community of animals who find an old typewriter and discover that with the ability to communicate with Farmer Brown, they have the resources to come together and campaign for good changes at the farm.

Over the course of Doreen Cronin’s series, which includes Click, clack, moo, Click, clack, quackity-quack and the very exciting Vote for duck, the animals do not always agree. Sometimes the interests of the cows are not the same as the interests of the ducks, and the hens and sheep make issues even more complex. But the animals of Farmer Brown’s farm are committed to building a good community; so they always try to work together to find solutions that balance everyone’s needs.

I think cooperation and compromise are important concepts for young children to grasp. So I was very pleased to see that acclaimed children’s author Sue deGennaro, who illustrated Jackie French’s fantastic The tomorrow book about our renewable energy future, takes up this same theme in her CBCA shortlisted book, The pros and cons of being a frog. In this story, two young friends learn through an argument that they have different strengths, weaknesses and interests, but that the most important thing is learning to respect each other and to get along.

Literacy and life skills are two of the benefits of children’s engagement with books from a young age. But I have to say, my favourite part of Book Week is seeing the enjoyment and imagination that comes from sharing stories. When we are all done with this long sitting session this week, I encourage all of my colleagues in this place to put down the budget papers for an evening and instead share the work of one of our great children’s authors with a young person in their life.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms Berry. I am just wondering whether you move from Click, clack, moo to Animal farm?

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