Meet educator and CBCA Vic member, Christine Oughtred
25 May 2021
Christine has been passionate about children’s literature her whole life. She first became involved with the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) as a children’s librarian. It was only once she met a kindred spirit in Jane Parsons, and together they started the Geelong Regional Group of CBCA Vic, that Christine was able to realise her dream to promote children’s literature in Geelong, Victoria’s largest regional city.
As a lifelong advocate of the benefits of reading from a young age, and getting children excited about books and storytelling, Christine is encouraging all libraries, schools and families to get involved in CBCA Book Week 2021.
“Sharing books from an early age lays the foundation for children to seek and enjoy the fun, discovery and companionship of stories,” Christine said.
“You notice how children's understanding of text and illustrations, the sophistication of meaning and pure pleasure grows the more they are exposed to stories.”
This year, Christine is on the CBCA National Awards Sub Committee, among a network of talented and passionate Australian children’s literature creators, educators and advocates. Working within the children’s literature community is a wholly rewarding experience for Christine, who is not only an educator and librarian, but also a mother and grandmother herself.
Christine is encouraging all families to be involved, and use children’s literature and storytelling as vehicles for learning, laughter and joy.
“To borrow words from Jane Godwin and Anna Walker's recent book ‘Don't Forget', I think stories can be a rich source for laughing, crying, wondering and talking together,” she says.
“As educators we will reap the rewards of early and continued exposure to books through engaged and creative thinkers, active participants in life and strong writers and artists!”
Having witnessed the evolution of children’s literature over many years, and the innovations with digital platforms like Story Box Library (SBL), Christine is a fierce advocate for engaging children in new ways. She sees opportunities within digital literacy for encouraging creativity, improving accessibility and instilling confidence in educators everywhere to use the right tools.
“Skills in digital literacy allow for interest driven, sensory and engaging learning for children and young people today,” Christine says.
“More than anything it allows them to develop individual creative responses to areas of interest.
“Young people don't have a barrier to playing with and experimenting with this means of communication.
“With the right support and encouragement educators can grow capacity for using some of the myriad of tools available that can make learning fun.”
As an innovative digital platform and form of ‘edutainment’ (educational entertainment), SBL is leading the way with partnerships such as CBCA Book Week, to improve children’s accessibility to stories, and advocate for high-quality Australian literature and stories.
“Story Box Library support of the Shadow Judging initiative has been invaluable and much appreciated by CBCA and the reading groups participating,” Christine says.
“I am thrilled to see SBL going from strength to strength and making great stories accessible to so many.
“Working with Story Box Library is always a delight as we share the same values of promoting high quality books and stories to children.”
Christine’s experience has shown how initiatives such as CBCA Book Week not only hold great importance for educators, libraries and children, but also benefit Australian publishers and industry, by supporting and promoting high-quality literature and providing a platform for local creators. Children are then empowered, through the CBCA Shadow Judging initiative to discuss and analyse the stories themselves, given the opportunity to share ideas and opinions in an open and respectful forum, while deepening their understanding and learning of text. Given the growing importance of critical thinking skills in Australian curricula, Shadow Judging helps kids not just read the text, but learn more on a deeper level.
“I think 'Shadow Judging' allows us to take the time to 'deep dive' into great books, talk about them together and have fun discussing and responding to them,” Christine says.
“When we read about the difference to student confidence, friendships and the deep thinking and experience of reading the books, we knew we'd created a perfect way to give voice to young readers themselves.
“It's another way of sharing the potential benefits of reading great stories which helps publishers, creators, booksellers and all in the children's literature network.”
Promoting children's literature in Australia and its local creators, we were very excited to partner with CBCA Victoria to create this Short Film, meet with the Shadow Judging panel and find out how kids can get involved. SBL will also be sharing dedicated Shadow Judging resources for all schools to use in the lead up to and during CBCA Book Week 2021.
The Children's Book Council of Australia is a not for profit organisation which aims to engage the community with literature for young Australians. CBCA Book Week 2021 runs during Term 3 of the Australian school holidays, from August 21-27. The 2021 theme is: Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds.