Posted by: savingaussiebooks | March 27, 2010


Several authors talk about their personal experiences in school libraries … sometimes the one place in a school that can be a haven for a child.

Guest blogger:  LEE FOX – Author

(Lee Fox is the author of the hilarious picture book Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair, illustrated by Cathy Wilcox. Lothian, 2006)

It was the scariest school I’d visited. The kids were scary and the teachers were even scarier. As I walked across the playground, one kid told me his play lunch had been stolen. Another kid cried because she’d fallen over and grazed her knee. A teacher yelled at two boys for not wearing hats. In a concrete thoroughfare ten kids flew passed me screeching like a flock of white cockatoos. As I walked up the steps to the school library I felt jangled – and it was only 8.45 a.m.

I walked though the library door and stepped into another realm. It was silent. Two calm and rather lovely teacher librarians spoke quietly to children about stories they might like to read. Other children sat on bean bags with their heads in books. Five children raced up the library steps talking loudly. But when they walked through the library door, their voices dropped as they headed for the shelves to find a favourite book to read before the bell rang.

On the wall there was a display the kids had made for Book Week. As I set up for my talk I felt my previous anxiety subside and I thought, ‘I love school libraries and I love the teacher librarians who make them a refuge for young book lovers.’


Guest blogger:   GABRIELLE WANG – author

(Gabrielle’s book Little Paradise has just been released by Penguin Australia)

When my children first started primary school, there was a lovely teacher librarian who enthused the students with a love of books and reading.

Then in Year 5, there was a change of school principal. He moved the TL to the computer room and employed a library assistant instead.

At the end of the year the TL resigned.

The library went from being an exciting classroom with displays of new books and colourful posters, to a lifeless, dull space.


Guest blogger:   HELEN ROSS – author/poet

(Helen is a regular visitor to school libraries. Her latest book is 10 Yellow Bananas)

I was recently invited to Sydney for two school visits as a visiting author, as well as conducting poetry workshops. My story telling sessions with the Preps were conducted in the libraries.

It was lovely being surrounded by aisles of lovely books and the librarians acted as ‘hosts’ and tour guides of their school.

The librarian knew all the children and lunchtimes were abuzz as children poured over their favourite books, and chatted to the librarians about their favourite books. The librarians had such a wealth of knowledge as they assisted children in choosing books of interest.


In the United Kingdom, high-profile Children’s and Young Adult authors like Philip Pullman have been campaigning to make school libraries a compulsory feature in all British schools.  The Guardian Newspaper – July 2009

The campaign’s supporters, who also include the Carnegie medal winners Mal Peet and Beverley Naidoo, are concerned that while prisoners have the statutory right to a library, schoolchildren do not, and they believe it is essential that children get the habit of reading for pleasure.

“[We] wholeheartedly support the right of prisoners to a library. It can be part of the process of rehabilitation through education. We are concerned however that school students do not have the same right. Research indicates that many young people who offend have low literacy levels,” they say in a letter that will be sent to secretary of state for children, schools and families Ed Balls this evening by the campaign’s head, the twice Carnegie-shortlisted author Alan Gibbons.


  1. Reading for pleasure is a wonderful thing. I’d not give it up for quids. But teaching children how to use books, information and libraries is much more than that. It gives them the keys to unlock the world.

  2. Speaking as a senior, a mother and one-time helper in a Grade 3 classroom encouraging some of the children with reading difficulties it’s reasonable to assume that some children have not had an early introduction to books and/or not been read to from an early age.

    This is why it’s imperative for all schools to have a bright and joyful library and a friendly understanding librarian, a happy place where the children can feel relaxed and comfortable, where the joy of reading can be awakened, a place filled with colourful books and brilliant posters where young imaginations can be stimulated and new worlds revealed, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave filled with treasures waiting to be explored.

    Further, the role of the teacher-librarian need not be limited to books but could include encouraging student participation in playacting.

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