West Australian Kids love Aussie books!

The West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) shortlist for 2016 has been announced, with just over half of the 58 books on the three shortlists coming from Australian authors/illustrators.

What this says about Australian books.

Although books nominated by young readers must meet the eligibility criteria (see below) they are not restricted to nominate books by Australian authors.  This demonstrates that West Australian kids love Aussie books and that here in Australia, we have a children’s publishing industry to be proud of!

What is WAYRBA?

Launched in 1980, WAYRBA is the longest running Children’s Choice Book Award in Australia. Each year the young readers of Western Australian are invited to send in nominations for books they would like considered for the shortlist. From February  to September, young readers all around the state vote for the books they have read.  After collating all the votes, the winners in each category are announced in November.

My 2016 WAYRBA Display
My 2016 WAYRBA Display

Qualifying criteria is applied by the WAYRBA Committee after children have nominated.

  • The book must have been published in the previous five years and be commercially available within Western Australia.
  • Only one title from an author may be included on a shortlist, however, as there are three shortlists, this does not exclude another title from the same author appearing on a different shortlist.
  • Each book can only appear on a shortlist once, and cannot be nominated in subsequent years.
  • If the book is part of a series it must be able to be read as a stand-alone book (either as the first book in the series, or a series that is not impacted by strict reading order.)
  • The author must be living.
WAYRBA Display 2016
WAYRBA Display 2016

Why are Children’s Choice Awards so Important?

Children’s Choice Awards offer an alternative to the some of the other prestigious, and much celebrated awards, where both the shortlists, and eventual winner are selected by adults. Children’s Choice Awards celebrate those books that children and teens love to read. Access to books selected by other young readers can also be a critical influence towards convincing reluctant readers to pick up a book.

“I have won three Hoffman awards at the WA Young Reader Book Awards and the trophies hold pride of place on my sideboard. I am so proud of them. The main reason is that these awards are chosen by the actual readers, the kids I wrote the books for, so that makes them special and the very best thing to win. Finding out you have appealed to a whole load of readers and written something that they liked, is a huge reward after all the doubt and uncertainty and self-doubt during the long haul of creating a manuscript. I hope the WAYRBA continues for many years, or as long as I keep writing at least.”
Norman Jorgensen, West Australian Award Winning Author

Another Book Nerd Moment when Mandy and I presented Norman and James with their trophies for The Last Viking Returns. WAYRBA AGM 2016
Another Book Nerd Moment when Mandy and I presented Norman and James with their trophies. WAYRBA AGM 2016

You can view the 2016  WAYRBA shortlists here

Older Readers’     Younger Readers’     Picture Books

 

Bassendean Library Competition

The Bassendean Library held a call for submissions on “what the library means to you” as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations of operation from their “new” facilities.

I’m delighted to announce that I was one of the winners  – also worth mentioning is that fellow Bassendean Writing Group member, Punito, was also a winner.

Bassendean Library Confirmation Letter

Here’s the full text of my submission:

As a small child, the side room at Bassendean Library where the children’s collection was housed was a treasure trove of stories waiting to be read, somewhat akin to Aladdin’s cave. While my Mum fossicked in the main library, usually hunting for the latest Wilbur Smith novel, I was free to explore and make a choice about which picture book I was going to take home that week.

Growing up with Cystic Fibrosis, I soon discovered that I could take a book with me while I waited at the hospital. I could read while I did my many treatments, and if I felt tired or short of breath, I could sit and read. I was different to other children, marked by a progressive illness, but books didn’t judge me. Instead, they took me on adventures and to places that my wonky lungs would never allow me to go.

Midway through primary school we moved to a semi-rural area. I no longer had access to a public library that I could walk to, and the school library was just a shelf at the back of the classroom. My Mum, who read but wasn’t a “reader”, couldn’t see the problem. You can after all, only read one book at a time, she reasoned.

I solved my problem when, every second weekend, I stayed overnight with my Gran in Bassendean. On a Saturday morning, I would trek back to Old Perth Road and head to the Bassendean Book Exchange. I was without doubt the worst customer they had. Each Saturday I managed to scrounge a small bag of Gran’s Mills and Boon books or Secret Confession magazines that I exchanged for the pick of their children’s books. There was a wonderful lady who ran the book exchange, and she never once complained that I treated her shop as a library when I sat and read all morning. Each week just before noon she would remind me that the shop was closing soon. I would carefully make my selections, always maximising the use of any credit I had. Clutching my bag of swapped treasures, it was time to hustle back to Gran’s. I always slowed down as I passed by the library, staring longingly through the door towards the books that were out of my reach. It never occurred to me that instead of reading at the book exchange, I should have been reading at the library. Living out of the district, my focus revolved around the loss of my precious pink library cards and the flow on consequence that I was no longer entitled to take library books home.

In high school, I continued to stay with my Gran, still on a fortnightly basis, but by now I’d found a solution to my library card problem. One Saturday, I dragged my Gran down to the library and got her to sign up. I immediately relieved her of her library cards. Having both out-read and outgrown the children’s section by this time, it was fortunate that her four yellow cards allowed me access to the main library. Initially I crept through the library, making my selections rapidly, trying to borrow before any of the staff realised that I wasn’t “Mavis” and sent me back to the children’s section.

One Saturday as I skulked through the stacks trying to be inconspicuous, Wendy, one of the librarians, placed a book in my hand and told me to try it. The following fortnight, she had another suggestion for me. She carefully cultivated my reading after that, pointing me towards books that challenged my thinking, that pushed me as a reader but were always age appropriate. Two authors that I distinctly remember her placing in my hands are still among my favourites today. Dean Koontz (back when he was still clinging to his middle initial) and Anne McCaffrey with her grand tales about the Dragonriders of Pern.

At the end of Year 10, I approached Wendy and asked if I could do some volunteer work at the library over the summer holidays. I was so fortunate that not just Wendy, but all of the ladies working in the library, took me under their collective wing and showed me the ropes. Eventually, my volunteer work became more permanent, and I volunteered every Saturday morning. Each week I hungrily absorbed everything they showed me. Here was a world that revolved around books and information, I absorbed everything I could, eager to learn. I couldn’t imagine a better place to work.

Throughout my life, one of the messages that was repeatedly given to me was, “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t”. Therefore, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when my Year 11 Guidance Officer told me that due to my health, I couldn’t make a career out of a love of reading. ‘Libraries are too dusty,’ he told me, ‘they’ll make you cough. Books are too heavy, you won’t be able to carry them.’ So he sent me off to do an accounting course. Account books were definitely NOT the sort of books that I was passionate about.

After high school, I studied an accounting course at TAFE while I worked part time. My heart wasn’t in it, I kept thinking back to my happy Saturday mornings, flicking through the card catalogue, checking for inter-library loans. Still it took me another seven years to shake the message that I couldn’t make a career from my love of books. By now, libraries were starting to go digital, and as I studied librarianship, I realised that the background the Bassendean Library ladies had given me had been priceless.

When I graduated, my chosen career path within the library industry was never in doubt. I intended to work within the school system. The first time I placed a book in the hands of a child and saw their eyes light up with delight, I knew my instincts had been right. My core values have always been moulded by how Wendy treated me as a teen. That the right book in the hand of a child at the right time can change their life. That you shouldn’t judge or devalue a child’s reading tastes and that they should be given the freedom to explore the world of literature.

In my mid-30s I returned to reside in Bassendean. The library building had changed, and so had some of the faces, and this time my son joined me on my Saturday jaunts to the library. Around this time, the prophetic words of my Year 11 Guidance Officer started to come true. My health was rapidly declining. Books were now too heavy for me to carry home from the library and I was forced to change my organic browsing habits into consolidated searching with the use of the online OPAC. With a Herculean solo effort, my son somehow managed to carry home all the books I’d selected, not to mention his own. Although I had never neglected the friendship I had forged with books in my childhood, while I was on extended sick leave they became my lifeline. On oxygen and virtually housebound, I wiled away the days with my faithful dog at my side and a library book in my hands.

Now, I’ve been given a second chance at life, with the gift of a new set of lungs. This gift has meant that not only have I returned to managing my school’s library, but I now have the energy to pursue my love of books in a different way. No longer on a Saturday morning and not always as a reader, now my Bassendean Library routine centres around Monday evenings in meeting room 2. As a children’s writer, I attend the Bassendean Writer’s Group, perfecting my stories. Stories that reflect a lifetime love of books and reading. Stories that will one day reside on the shelves. The circle will be complete when my stories are ready for another child to take off the shelf and begin a love affair with books. A love affair, that for me, began at Bassendean Library.

 

WASLA Awards

WASLA is the peak body for teacher librarians and other school library staff is WA – so it’s kind of nice to be officially recognised by them as the joint winner of the Library Officer / Library Technician of the Year for 2015.

From my nomination:
“Her true love is children’s fiction and her knowledge has seen a turn around within the quality of the collection and this has results in higher borrowing rates.”
“Sandi’s great strength is to provide an informative, welcoming and effective library environment to enhance students’ knowledge and understanding and enjoyment of literature, no matter the situation the school has been placed it. This guarantees a well-used and functioning library.”

WASLA Joint Winner 2015
WASLA Joint Winner 2015

 

WASLA Winners 2015
WASLA Winners 2015 – Hanneke Van Noort (Joint Winner LO/LT) Leonie McIlvenny (Teacher Librarian of the Year) & Me! (Joint Winner LO/LT)

So I thought this might be a good time to show off how pretty my library is at the moment.

Historical Fiction & Biographies
Historical Fiction & Biographies
Non Fiction
Non Fiction
Picture Books
Picture Books
Junior Fiction
Junior Fiction
Senior Fiction Corner
Senior Fiction Corner

 

And the Displays …

 

Read Local - Our West Australian Authors
Read Local – Our West Australian Authors

 

Fairy Garden (Currently Invaded by the Dwarfs)
Fairy Garden (Currently Invaded by the Dwarfs)

 

ANZAC Display
ANZAC Display

 

Dewey Number of the Week
Dewey Number of the Week